There is a lot of discussion about parallax websites and whether they impact SEO negatively and if those negative impacts are balanced out by the advantages of a parallax website. Simply, is it worth compromising SEO for a parallax website?
Parallax scrolling does have some advantages.
When done correctly, parallax websites can look awesome. They have all the content on one page meaning users don’t have to navigate through lots of pages. They can also give the user a unique experience.
The fun and new experience can be more engaging for the user. The different effects and movements come as a surprise to the user which can make them more curious and excited.
As the user scrolls down the page they can see the story unfold in front of them. This can be more fun, interesting and engaging.
So parallax websites may look good and be appealing to the user, but what are the downsides of using them and do they affect SEO?
Slow Loading Time
Due to the amount of elements and effects that need to be loaded, parallax websites are very slow to load. Slow page loading times will put users off, and they will give up trying to view the website if its too intrusive. Page loading times are also part of Google’s algorithm, which means that the website is less likely to rank in the top results in the SERPs.
Difficulties for Keyword Optimisation
Parallax websites have all their content on one page which means that it is more difficult to optimise the site for multiple keywords. Unless the site has a highly defined single-minded proposition, this will heavily impact the SEO of the site. A traditional website would have multiple, content rich pages which is better for SEO.
As the content is all on one page, there is only one URL. This means that search engines only have the one page in the search results which again will have a huge negative impact on your organic search visibility.
Not Always Mobile and Browser Friendly
Parallax sites may sometimes fail to work correctly on some web browsers and mobiles.
Parallax websites require lots of testing in the development phase, to ensure that the website works on all web browsers, which can be time consuming and add to client cost.
With more and more people using mobile devices, it would create a huge impact if the website didn’t work on mobile devices. This may require a second site optimised for mobile devices to be created that has the same content. This could mean that the site would be penalised by Google because redirecting mobile users to a mobile friendly site would slow down the load time.
However, Lindsay Kolowich from Hubspot says, “Parallax certainly does work on mobile if you have a responsive design. With responsive design, mobile device users will be detected and the browser will turn off some of the parallax features that wouldn’t work or would be confusing on those platforms.”
So in conclusion, parallax websites are aesthetically appealing and better for already established brands that don’t need to heavily rely on SEO. But, they are not so good for smaller companies that rely on search engines to gain traffic. There are ways to use a hybrid of parallax and traditional websites to have the style and beauty of a parallax site as well as the practicality of SEO-friendly traditional websites.