A few years ago, there was some uncertainty about how important page load times were for search engine optimization. There were website designers using Flash and other plug-ins that slowed the rate at which pages loaded. In today's online environment, a growing number of companies are using Parallax design for their websites, and it has created a lively debate among SEO advocates for similar reasons.
Just what is Parallax design?
Parallax design was originally created with video games in mind (1). Think about it in the same way the foreground images in Super Mario Bros. change at one rate while the background moves separately. A company will essentially have a single Web page that users scroll down and new images and text will move up at varying speeds. The end result for a Web page is something that's captivating for site visitors. It's also a way to tell a story in a more compelling way.
When a business invests in Parallax design for its homepage, it needs to recognize and avoid the risks with respect to SEO.
Caution: Slow zone
Parallax design is known for incorporating significant amounts of visual content and coding that can slow down page load times (2). For instance, the images a business chooses for its website can significantly influence performance (1). PNG and JPEG files can often include extra data that can cause extended load times.
In most cases, visitors to a company's site expect the page to load within two seconds (3). There's a strong correlation between loading speeds and online customer traffic. This in turn impacts user experience, which Google increasingly prioritizes.
In fact, Google use site speed as a factor when ranking websites. While it's not the single most important factor when designing a website for SEO, load time can affect a business's ranking in organic search results.
When a business incorporates all of its website content into a single URL, there will likely be fewer internal links (4). No matter how amazing a Parallax-designed website may be, a company with one page that can be indexed by Google or any other search engine will not be as visible in organic search results as other sites with a more developed internal linking strategy.
Another important point to keep in mind is how well Parallax design performs on mobile devices. If a business doesn't invest in responsive design as well, it's likely the website won't appear as intended. This will negatively impact user experience and harm search engine rankings.
1. "Parallax Web Design: What It Is and How It Can Affect Your SEO"
2. "Why Parallax Design Doesn't Have to Tank Your SEO"
3. "SEO 101: How Important is Site Speed in 2014?"
4. "Is Parallax to Blame for Poor SEO?"