Have you ever visited a site such as Spotify where the background appears to be moving? The Spotify site along with others have started using a method called Parallax scrolling to add more visual appeal to their pages. In this article I hope to explain some of the effects that Parallax scrolling has on SEO efforts.
What Is Parallax Scrolling?
Parallax scrolling is an effect that is produced by using a script to tell the background image to scroll at a slower rate than the page content. Parallax scrolling has become more and more popular over the past few years and for good reason; if done correctly, it can add depth and dimension to your site. While this method of development is very eye catching, we as an online marketing agency have had some questions about the affect that it has on Search Engine Optimization.
Using Spotify as my example, I’ve explored five fundamentals of optimization and how Parallax affects each one.
Page URLs are an important place to insert keywords relating to that page. It is important that these URLs are different for every page of your site. You will notice that when you click here to view the upgrade page on Spotify.com, that the URL remains the same as the homepage. This means that Google recognizes this site as containing only one page. With that said Spotify has a robust help section located at http://support.spotify.com. The pages that are part of this support section all have separate URLs but since the domain is http://support.spotify.com the actual domain of http://spotify.com is not getting credit for those pages. That is STRIKE ONE!
Header Tags (H1 Tags)
Header Tags like URLs are a place to add keywords that help the viewer to understand what content that given page will contain. The current best practice is that each page should only use one H1 tag. As discussed above in the URLs section we know that Google only recognizes this site as one page. That means that this single page contains 7x H1 tags. STRIKE TWO!
Page titles are an integral element in an effective SEO strategy. Like URLs, page titles should contain keywords pertaining to the content on that given page. If we look at the Spotify example we see that Google recognizes the entire http://spotify.com website as being one page. This means that Spotify only has space to create one page title. It also means that there is only one page that can show up in organic search results. This is STRIKE THREE!
We have already given this development method three strikes however we have to finish this analysis. Meta descriptions are the last piece of this test. Meta descriptions, also known as page descriptions show up under the page title in organic search results. While Meta descriptions arguably have little effect in organic search rankings they are still important to have. They are important because they provide the potential site visitor with information about what the page is about. At TKG we also like to add a call to action in the description as well. Like the other three fundamental elements of SEO that we looked at above, we recognize that Spotify.com can only have one page description for the entire site due to Google viewing the site as one page. That’s STRIKE FOUR!
Perhaps the most important part of your site is the content that is actually on the page. This content can be in the form of images and text. The current trend is to make eye catching image driven websites that contain little text elements. While eye catching this presents and issue for SEO. Google cannot crawl images unless there is text associated with them. So therefore if a site is primarily images Google does not recognize most of the content on the site.
The other issue that often arises is that sites that are primarily image based take a long time to load. In most instances Google robots will time out before they reach all of the content on your site because they have to wait for it to load. STRIKE FIVE, alright I think we have to say you’re out now.
Parallax scrolling is a gorgeous effect that is becoming more and more popular. However, building a site using parallax prevents the site from being optimized using five of the most fundamental methods of optimization. As parallax scrolling becomes more and more popular, we expect there to be more ways to optimize the content.
Next week I tackle the question: Is it ever OK to use parallax scrolling on your site?