Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on December 18th, 2007

Do CSS Menus Block Search Engines?

I got an interesting question on one of the lists that I read. How can I tell if my CSS drop-down menus are blocking Google? It seems that another person suggested that CSS menus will hide your site from the search engines.

Well, besides the obvious of creating a sitemap, how could you find out for sure if your CSS menu system is blocking search engine spiders? I thought about it for a few minutes and came up with this:

TO FIND OUT FOR SURE IF YOUR MENUS ARE MASKED FROM GOOGLE:

  1. Create an orphan page on the site with some unique text on it. (Orphan = no other pages link to it including the sitemap).
  2. Add a link to the orphan in your CSS drop-down menu.
  3. Wait for Google to crawl the site (usually in a week or so) and then search Google's index for that page using the site:yoursite.com directive (or click on "Advanced Search" to specify that you only want results from this particular site).

If it's in there then you're golden - the spider is getting past the menu and is passing Google love. If not, time to build new menus or explore your other options. Like, for example, creating a "plain text" footer navigation on your front page.