SEO Optimisation of Parallax Scrolling Websites
Website design and SEO are two things that should go hand-in-hand. In other words, you should not include a design feature on your website unless you consider the implication for SEO. Parallax scrolling is a design feature, so how will it impact the SEO of your website? How can you optimise a parallax scrolling website?
What is a Parallax Scrolling?
Parallax scrolling has its origins in video game design. It is a website design technique where the background of the website’s page scrolls slower than the foreground (or content) of the page. So, you could have a background image that will scroll slower than the text on the page.
The effect is to add depth to the page, making it feel more interactive and making it look almost 3D.
It is an effect, however, and it can be overwhelming and/or distracting when used in the wrong context or when used too much. When used subtly, however, and when the focus remains on the content of the page rather than letting a design quirk take over, parallax scrolling can enhance a website and make it more memorable and eye-catching.
The SEO Impact of Parallax Scrolling
Generally, parallax scrolling is not, in itself, problematic for SEO. The search engine optimisation issues occur in its application.
There are two ways that website designers use parallax scrolling:
- To add a design feature to a page on a website
- To make parallax scrolling a central feature of a one-page website
The first approach is the least problematic. So long as the website has a good SEO architecture, the addition of a parallax scrolling feature to a page will have minimal impact on search engine ranking, although you do need to consider site speed – see below.
Big problems arise, however, when you use parallax scrolling on one-page websites. The issue isn’t necessarily with the parallax scrolling feature but, with the fact the website has a one-page design.
We’ll come to the issue of one-page parallax scrolling websites in a moment, but there is an important factor to point out for any parallax scrolling element on a website, even if it’s a design feature on a single page of a multi-page website – speed.
Website Speed and Parallax Scrolling
Parallax scrolling will slow down your website – it really is as simple as that. This could impact the SEO of your website, particularly if you already have speed issues.
Where the problem of speed is most acute, however, is on the mobile version of your website. Parallax scrolling can slow down websites viewed on phones considerably, so you should think carefully before adding it.
One helpful approach is to remove the parallax scrolling effect for anyone viewing your website on a mobile device.
Why Parallax Scrolling is So Popular on One-Page Websites
Back to one-page websites and why parallax scrolling is so popular.
One-page website design is a design approach favoured by some for its minimalist style. You need to overcome the issue of having one long page of content, however. How do you stop the page from becoming boring?
The solution that many website designers turn to is parallax scrolling. Parallax scrolling helps to break up content and grab the attention of visitors with visual uniqueness.
In other words, it can be the difference between a one-page website design that is flat, uninspiring, and boring, and a website that works and visitors love (notwithstanding the speed caveat mentioned above).
What’s the Problem with One-Page Websites?
Parallax scrolling can make one-page websites work from a user’s perspective, but single page websites are problematic for SEO. This is because Google views them as one-page websites. While you might think that’s the whole point, this is not what search engines want.
Instead, search engines want each section of your website (i.e. each section of your one-page website design) to have its own page and information. This helps give Google a better understanding of the content on the page and where it fits into its search results.
So, to get the best results, you should abandon the idea of a one-page website altogether, giving your website a multi-page site architecture instead. You can then add the parallax scrolling design feature to individual pages wherever you think it will enhance the user experience.
What If You Want to Stick with a One-Page Design?
What if you want to stick with a one-page design that uses parallax scrolling? This approach will never be as good as having multiple pages, but there are some things you can do to improve the SEO of your site.
While you won’t have multiple pages on a one-page website, you will have sections of content. This could be About Us, Services, Contact, etc. Most one-page websites have a menu that lets users jump to these specific sections on the page.
Google doesn’t treat the links to these sections as separate URLs, but you can use workarounds. Specifically, you can use code that makes your website appear to Google as multiple pages with each page having its own unique content, page title, and meta description.
This will enable Google to more effectively index your website which, in turn, helps ensure your website appears on searches for crucial keywords.
The way to achieve this is to use Google’s guidelines for pages with infinite scroll. Infinite scroll pages and one-page websites with parallax scrolling are different, but the solution for infinite scrolling pages will optimise your site for Google search.
Importantly, it will improve the SEO of your website while maintaining the one-page design for users. Therefore, you get the design features you want – one-page design with parallax scrolling functionality – while ensuring your site has the SEO structure it needs.
Final Thought – Analytics
The above solution doesn’t solve all the issues that exist with one-page websites that have parallax scrolling. The biggest is the problem of analytics.
The analytics data you get from a one-page website is restricted to a single page. This means you can’t drill into the performance of each section of your website. Chunking your one-page website into different sections for SEO will not change that.
In summary, many people like the parallax scrolling feature, but it does have implications for SEO. Make sure you take the necessary steps to optimise your site if you choose to implement parallax scrolling.