Parallax Scrolling and SEO: What You Should Know Before Designing a Website

When Ian Coyle designed the first mainstream example of parallax scrolling back in 2011 and named it Nike Better World, the website became one of the hottest topics of discussion in the digital world for several months. It became a trendsetter and got featured in numerous website design galleries. Everyone appreciated the great idea and the idyllic design.

However, there is a lot of confusion in the SEO community today regarding whether to use parallax or not. Since, most of the parallax websites have one-page architecture, we end up believing that parallax scrolling is restricted to one-page Web design.

Now, because your entire site is featured on a single page, it makes such a site unfriendly for SEO. There is a lost potential to incorporate meta data, you cannot target specific keywords on each page, there are multiple H1 headers on a single page each competing with one another, and it takes a long time to load because it is image-heavy. But does this mean you always have to compromise on good design for a powerful SEO? Obviously not.

Parallax scrolling can have several advantages, and this is why:

Wonderful Design

No doubt, they look awesome. The single-page design allows you to scroll up and down a webpage, displaying new content with each scroll. You don’t have to move from one page to another – everything is right in one place, to give you a unique user experience.

Here are a few examples of businesses that have created wonderful websites using parallax design:

Bagigia

11nov14-parallax-scrolling-navneet-bagigia
Unfold

11nov14-parallax-scrolling-navneet-unfold
Manufacture d’essai 

11nov14-parallax-scrolling-navneet-manufacture-d-essai
Too Young to Wed

11nov14-parallax-scrolling-navneet-too-young-to-wed
Telling the Story of Your Brand

Parallax is a brand-new way of storytelling. Parallax scrolling tells the unique story of your brand in the most engaging way possible. 

Boost Engagement

With parallax scrolling you give the user a whole new experience. You allow them to have some fun, you arouse curiosity in them, and you surprise them. Don’t you think this automatically boosts engagement?

So, if parallax scrolling is so awesome, why isn’t everyone using it? Let’s have a look at some of the challenges associated with parallax scrolling: 

Does Parallax Affect SEO?

If done incorrectly, parallax scrolling can negatively affect SEO. Search engines are looking for websites that cater to content-rich pages to users. In contrast to this, a parallax site is generally just a single-page site. You can’t have multiple H1 headers, separate title tags, and meta descriptions for a site in which all the content is displayed in a single page.

  • Slow Loading Time: Parallax websites have slower loading times. Search engines as well as users prefer a site that loads fast. Isn’t it annoying to wait for several seconds while the page is loading? 
  • Trouble Measuring User Engagement: It is very difficult to measure user engagement in a parallax site using Google Analytics. Analytics uses a JavaScript tracking code to calculate user engagement. It is not possible to determine where most traffic is going in a site with a single page. 
  • Not Always Browser-Friendly: It might be possible that a parallax page does not work properly across all Web browsers. A page can run properly in Firefox but fail to do so in Google Chrome. The same can happen in the case of Internet Explorer and Safari. It might require extensive testing to make sure that everything works accurately across all Web browsers. 
     
  • Difficult to Optimize for Specific Keywords: A single page of content rather than several content-rich pages makes it difficult to optimize for multiple keywords, too. 
     
  • Not Mobile-Friendly: A parallax site may also fail to work properly on mobile devices. With more and more people turning to mobile phones these days for their daily Internet use, it can be a major problem for businesses if the website is not mobile-friendly. 

The Hybrid Approach

Wait, there is more to the story. There are few structural options which can condition your website for parallax scrolling while keeping it search engine friendly at the same time: You can assign internal links to different sections of the parallax website to help search engines index the content. Doing so will allow several pages to be indexed in the organic search results.

Apart from this, these navigation elements can be used for internal linking, ensuring the accessibility of the page. By doing so you can use the parallax effect and at the same time use multiple pages. This means, you will have multiple URLs and you will be able to optimize them for specific keywords. You can use Ajax and navigation elements to dynamically change the URL. Whenever a user clicks on a navigation element, they jump down the page to the relevant content with a unique URL.

Another thing you can do is to start a blog and make frequent posts to it. This will allow you to wow visitors by keeping intact the parallax effect, while the blog will attract traffic for you.

Conclusion

So what’s the takeaway? Is parallax scrolling good or bad for SEO? Can all businesses depend on parallax? Well, the answer is, it depends.

Parallax scrolling is perfect for established brands and/or mini sites, which do not depend largely on search engines to attract traffic. They can easily use parallax websites for launching new products without worrying about the implementation of these workarounds. But, if you still want to use parallax design for your website just remember what we said earlier – use parallax design on your homepage, however also have some sub pages on unique URLs, which can be optimized for search traffic.

In this way you can have the beauty of parallax design while keeping it SEO-friendly at the same time. While building parallax sites and using the above mentioned techniques right from the start, you can still drive a significant amount of traffic from the search engines. The only thing to remember here is, if you are doing it, just do it the right way.

Got something more to add? Share with us in the comments section below.

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