Last year, it was homepage “sliders” (even we are guilty of using those). This year, the must-have design feature for the small business website is “parallax scrolling.” Parallax scrolling is a technique that causes the background image to scroll at a different rate from the rest of the page, creating an illusion of depth. This idea originated in the gaming industry, where this visual effect has endless applications in online storytelling.
But using a parallax scroll on a business website will definitely impact SEO, if you don’t think it through. Parallax (we also refer to this as “infinite scroll”) websites tend to incorporate very little text on what is essentially a single web page. Think about how you optimize you webpages and remember your SEO basics. Consider some of the drawbacks with the parallax or infinite scroll fad:
- Using multiple, large background images on your site may cause slow loading times, which will certainly have an adverse effect on rankings;
- Single page websites allow for only one set of meta tags: one title tag, a single meta description, etc.) and a single URL, limiting your ability to incorporate keywords across multiple pages;
- Getting backlinks may be more difficult if your site has no deep content for other sites to link back to;
Still, if you’re sure that parallax design is the way to go (and please consider carefully whether it’s really appropriate for your visitors and supportive of your brand identity), then why not take a hybrid approach? Use the parallax scrolling effects on the home page, but build in links to keyword rich sub-pages. Basically, you’re using the homepage to tell your story, allowing readers to select the path they want to explore – it’s a menu, told in a vertically scrolling fashion.
Here are a few tips for making parallax scrolling websites work for SEO purposes:
- Think about how to segment your brand’s story and map out the parallax home page (you can do this with pencil and paper);
- Perform on-page SEO for the home page using a unique page title, meta description, H1 tag and at least 250 words of text;
- Make sure you have links to second-level pages that incorporate target keywords;
- Create an .xml site map and submit to Google
Parallax design does get noticed, and good clean aesthetics and a captivating layout may give you an additional edge. Just make sure you’re not sacrificing your search visibility for what is likely to be a passing fad.