Are Infinite Scrolling Homepages SEO Friendly?

Infinite scrolling
Infinitely scrolling homepages have become a part of many modern blogs and websites today (e.g. Mashable). The intent is to keep visitors on the website as more and more content is loaded. While it can be beneficial to adopt infinite scroll, it is important that its implementation takes into account the best SEO and usability principles. Today, we'll discuss the user friendliness of implementing this feature on your website.
There are two parts to this story. In this part, we'll discuss the SEO aspects of infinite scrolling, whereas in the next, we'll talk about things to consider before implementing an infinite scroll along SEO recommendations.
Part 1: Are Infinite Scrolling Homepages SEO Friendly?
Part 2: (In progress...)

Indexing problems

In terms of SEO, one of the major challenges that you may encounter in trying to implement Infinite Scroll is indexing. The issue stems from the fact that Google does not allow the JavaScript download to display content found below a Web page that was programmed in Infinite Scroll. As a result, when the search engine lands on your Web page, it will only see the content that is first presented to the user; the content that is visible without having to scroll.

To address this shortcoming, you must help Google detect your entire website’s content to effectively index your website and promote visibility between internal pages. You can do this by implementing an interlinking strategy.

Breaking down content

Content on a large website is often broken down into many different pages. In other words, Classic pagination. For infinite scroll, the problem arises when search crawler gets to the end of an initial page load. For a user, more content would be automatically loaded with JavaScript. But a crawler can't get any further, and hence information beyond that is 'lost'.

Breaking down content into various pages not only makes it easier for crawler, but also for users who're using an old browser, or a mobile browser with JavaScript turned off. This is not to say that you should get rid of infinite scrolling altogether. You can offer both solutions side by side. As the saying goes, never sacrifice functionality in favor of graphical usability.

SEO Benefits

The implementation of an Infinite Scroll, when well established, will not influence the SEO performance of a website. The major advantage however, lies in optimizing conversions (depending, of course, on the objectives of the website in question!).

The implementation of an Infinite Scroll on your website may allow you to decrease your bounce rate and increase the amount of content being viewed, as well as the number of pageviews. This can be extremely interesting for sites whose main income comes from advertising with CPM ads (if the advertisement reloads when users change pages with Infinite Scroll).

So long story short, infinite scroll has its uses. In the next post, we'll talk about things to consider before implementing an infinite scroll, so stay tuned :)

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