Two of the popular spokespeople for Google have let their distaste for websites using “read more” or similar buttons to expand the content displayed on the page be known.

“Why would a site want to hide their content?” asked John Mueller. “I hate those.”

Meanwhile Gary Illyes tweeted his confusion over the use of such buttons. “I’ve never understood the rationale behind that. Is it generating more money? Or why are people doing that?”

Someone asked them if this could lead to a penalty from Google’s new mobile interstitial penalty, to which John said, “It’s not an interstitial…”

Here is a screenshot example of what they are talking about:

example of 'read more' for content button

It is pretty easy to understand the ‘why’ behind the use of these. You mostly see them on mobile sites. Several years ago, Google released an update around the user experience of a website. One thing this update targeted was sites having too many ads above the fold. In other words, if most of what a user saw was advertisements before scrolling down, that was a negative ranking signal.

What the ‘read more’ type buttons do in this case is let sites put ads above the fold, or very close to it, without someone having to read the entire page of content before getting to ads at the bottom of the page.

It is sort of a way to avoid Google’s layout penalty, but still get ads in front of visitors more often. So yes, Gary, it is to make more money.

Could it be something that Google targets later?

You never know for sure, but I don’t really think so. It is not really hampering someone from getting to the content they were looking for. It is all right there on the same page. If the click caused loading of another page, that would be much different, and hamper the user experience.

Also, if it is getting more clicks through AdSense without being a significant hindrance to the user experience, why would they want to target it?