One of the latest trends in web design is the use of parallax design. Parallax is a technique for creating a 3-dimensional experience on a webpage where the foreground and background move at different speeds as you scroll down the page. This can be a very compelling way to highlight text and images using movement without the use of multimedia such as flash.
This cool new design trend is making its way into many high profile sites. Unfortunately, along with this new cool look there are some speed bumps to avoid SEO problems. A few examples include:
The One Page Website:
The use of parallax design is especially attractive because it can make the site seem full of content and compact at the same time. The temptation is to make the site work as a fully integrated tool with virtual navigation where content slides in from any direction. This is cool but since all of the content is on the same URL, there is a big constraint to optimizing for multiple keywords. Sites that fall into this trap end up with the SEO problem of ranking mostly for the brand and only a few other keywords.
Super Size Me:
Parallax design makes use of multiple images and scripting to create a 3D effect. These same parallax pages tend to scroll endlessly meaning that each page can be considerably large. In addition, making the page mobile friendly may require loading several sizes of each image to address each device and browser size requirements. All of this adaptability comes at a price in terms of page size and potentially site speed. This issue is important because both site speed and whether or not a website is mobile friendly are factors in the Google search ranking algorithms.
Limits to Content: Choosing to create cool looking pages that appeal to a wider audience is a great goal. Making the pages super long and sucking all your rich content and images into just one or a small handful of pages can really limit the appeal of the overall website. Ideally, a site should have many pages with a variety of content ranging from long/deep articles to those with less text and are short and to-the-point.
Reducing Conversions: Most websites have more objectives than to look really cool and show off the web team’s design skills. At some point, a corporate site needs to attract prospects and contribute to sales growth. Parallax pages that have lots of cool imagery may obscure or even hide the calls-to-action if any are present.
Limited Performance Tracking:
The use of this design approach by some companies showcases tech savvy capabilities. That may sound and look impressive, but you still need to track what happens on the site. If the company uses Google Analytics, keep in mind, specific goals require a triggered action to track behavior. Creating these triggers can be much trickier on a parallax page especially if there is no unique conversion process.
Each of these challenges can be overcome with the right planning and execution. Comprises need to be made as the issues that cause SEO problems often are overlooked due to the parallax design sizzle. Please don’t be fooled by this shiny object and stay focused on making the overall website performance excellent.
About Kent Yunk
Kent is currently Advisor and SEO Strategist to Roaring Pajamas a boutique digital-strategy company located in San Carlos California. His in-house SEO experience spans GoDaddy, QuinStreet, Ask.com, Dictionary.com, Adobe and IBM where he did extensive audits and optimization for local and international web properties. He and his team also execute reputation management, link building and social media campaigns.