Hidden Content is Indexed…
As far as I have seen since the discussion died down, Google does index this content. Personally, I think it would be really odd for them to stop indexing it. Also, from the clarification Google provided, there was nothing to suggest otherwise.
What About Hidden Links?
From all that chatter though, there was some interesting talk around hidden links from the Google Hangout.
According to Google,
“..in general this is something where if the content isn’t really visible, then it’s really hard for us to say whether or not it makes sense to put a lot of weight on the content. And it doesn’t really matter if it’s a video, if it’s a link or if it’s images, this is essentially something that has been the case for really long time now that if this is really important and relevant content, then make sure that it’s actually visible.”
The interesting thing here is, “it doesn’t really matter if it’s a video, if it’s a link or if it’s images.” This verifies that the scope of what Google considers to be content in these cases includes links.
I think it is definitely an interesting consideration in terms of menu structures, especially for the mega menus that are becoming so popular and also in terms navigation handling for large ecommerce sites. One of the commenters on the SEroundtable post, Nick Thompson, also had a great comment in the context of mobile, stating,
“Can you imagine that we would need to build webpages without hidden menus options, or text in the mobile age? Because we are in the mobile age, and in the mobile age, we need compress all the info, and expand if we want more. This is crazy. Is created to test our IQ only? Hehe”
This comment is interesting because it highlights an assumption that when it comes to ranking, that Google may still be relying heavily on the desktop experience for these types of ranking signals.