Infinite scrolling is a feature that more and more businesses are starting to adopt, but as easy as it may be to implement, SEO shouldn’t be pushed to the wayside. If you’re trying to get creative this New Year and try new things, infinite scrolling has its benefits. Your first thought should be, your readers and whether or not infinite scrolling is the right choice for user experience, but once you’ve made that decision, next comes SEO. Learn below how to keep your SEO intact and make sure the Google bots can crawl your content.
How Infinite Scrolling Works and the Benefits
The best way to describe infinite scrolling is to think about Facebook. When you’re scrolling through your newsfeed, notice how you can just keep scrolling and scrolling and the content on the page never ends? This is infinite scrolling. Below is a screenshot from this CopyPress article that shows infinite scrolling on Pinterest:
As you can see, new content is continually loading so the page is, well infinite. In general, this will help your pages load faster. A few other benefits to infinite scrolling include:
- Information is delivered in real-time, meaning that everything is updated immediately. If you publish a lot of content frequently throughout the day, being able to scroll through in real time (as opposed to having to click off a page and wait) is a great option.
- It’s easier to manage large amounts of data because everything happens continuously. This actually goes along with the last point—if you have information coming to your website in real time, such as tweets, infinite scrollings help you with management.
- It is a great option for mobile users. When you’re looking at a small screen, scrolling through is much easier than having to click a little button to move to the next page. You want things quickly and easily when you’re on a mobile device. HigherVisibility also added, “mobile phones have a small, vertical screen, so information began to be presented more vertically. Infinite scrolling was a no-brainer.”
- It works well for image-driven websites because it helps users to stay focused on images. Looking at an image only takes a minute, so these types of websites want readers to get lost in the photos. In other words, it makes the most of a readers want to be constantly entertained.
In general, infinite scrolling will become more popular as more and more websites begin to capitalize on the success of images and video as well as the increased use of mobile devices. For many, infinite scrolling is a good feature to implement only on mobile.
So what are the downsides?
Infinite scrolling is actually the center of a lot of debate for websites. Most agree that it isn’t great for every type of website for several reasons:
- It can be annoying for readers to have to continually scroll to find what they want or scroll back to read something they saw previously.
- Having a footer is pretty much out of the question, which means your important links will have to be creative placed elsewhere (which can be tough).
- Readers can’t really skip any information.
In other words, websites where visitors generally want to search for something specific are not going to benefit from this type of site. It depends completely on your goals and your specific type of company.
The Relationship Between Infinite Scrolling and SEO
So now what this article was really about: SEO. If you do decide to implement infinite scrolling, you have to think about SEO. The biggest thing you’re going to need to worry about is making sure that the search engine bots can crawl and therefore index your content. This is a little bit tough with infinite scrolling because you have fluid pages that are constantly changing. How can the Google bots keep up?
The answer is that you have to create static URLs, or webpages. This means that you must build your infinite scroll on top of paginate pages, which are essentially your archived pages. In other words, the backend of your site needs to include static links so that the bots can jump from one page to the next. To be clear, this is not what you would see if you were a user. Only the bots can see the static pages. Below is a screenshot from Google’s explanation:
I recommend visiting the infinite-scroll plugin to help ensure that these static pages are happening. When you first get started with infinite scrolling, pay special attention to whether or not your pages are being indexed. If they are not, talk with a developer and visit this article to learn how to make a change.