SEO & "Infinite Scroll" Websites
Infinite scrolling websites are quite literally bang on trend! Take a look at the new iPhone 5s website for example they look great don’t they? They also lend themselves really well to portrait iPad scrolling. So what’s the problem? SEO’ers don’t like them!
Why are they not liked by SEO’ers?
Search engine spiders (or robots) are completely blind and do not have the ability to carry out some of the more complex tasks humans carry out on a website. As such, some websites are just not suited to ranking well in the search engines.
To see what your website looks like to Google do a search like this on Google “cache:www.yourdomain.com” and click the Text Only link. Yep that’s what is sees! No fancy graphics, no swirly effects etc.!
So what’s the problem? When Google spiders your website it takes away a framework of pages and content. Each page then creates a listing which will rank for suitable searches (where it will rank is a bit more complicated) Generally the more pages your website has the more listings your website will have, thus casting your net further. Infinite scrolling websites only have one page and one listing (with an often very mixed focus)
Lets imagine you were a large international corporation with multiple divisions and you wanted a one page infinitely scrolling page to summarise everything you do. The problem is you will only end up with one listing which covers all that you do, forfeiting your chances of ranking for multiple terms.
So what do we do?
I personally think its up to Google to catch-up with the web and not the other way around. Design and usability should be the leaders in web design progression not search engines. This being said, Google is almost every website’s number one source of traffic and it can not be ignored.
Also in many cases (despite the temptation), infinite scroll is not the most suitable site structure from a usability point of view. Do you really want to be scrolling through content to get to contact form for example?
I think infinite scroll has a role to play, especially if you are describing a process or demonstrating a new product, but I don’t think they should be the basis of your entire website.
Either way we all need to keep innovating, if every website became an infinite scrolling website then Google would have to catch up and find a way to keep serving up great results, which I’m sure they will…