Ferrari Laferrari Hybrid SupercarOne of the latest and most popular trends in website design and development is Parallax Web design. In this article, we’re going to be taking a look parallax web design, some of its pros and cons, and their impact on search engine optimization.

What is Parallax Web Design?

Parallax web design, often called parallax scrolling, is a new style of web design that is used to enhance the user experience by creating a 3D experience through 2D scrolling. It’s used to convey new information that is usually contained on multiple pages into one more dynamic page that creates a more engaging, immersive, and interactive experience. The best way to understand what parallax web design is and how it works is to see some real-world examples. An example of a well-known website that uses parallax design comes from Sony. As you scroll down the page you’ll see how the content changes dramatically.

Sony Parallax Website

Sony Parallax Website

Another example many people have seen comes from the music service Spotify. Again, if you scroll down the page, you’ll see it’s a much richer experience than your standard webpage.
Spotify Parallax Website

Spotify Parallax Website

Is parallax design for your site?

Pros of Using Parallax Webdesign

The number one and most compelling reason to use parallax is it’s much richer, immersive, and an overall more interesting experience for the user. The fact that you don’t have to click and load multiple pages to get the content, if done properly, can make for a better user experience. Another big plus of parallax is that you can tell a better story and engage more with your users and customers. Because you can use better graphics and you can direct the users attention in ways that you can’t on traditional web pages. This also tends to cut down on bounce/exit rates. The Australian version of the page for the Honda CRV is a great example:

Honda CRV Parallax Website

Honda CRV Parallax Website

Another advantage, generally speaking, is that content that is better and generates more social engagement, sharing, and builds more natural links. People are much more likely to share content that is compelling and interesting on Facebook and Twitter. All of this “social proof” is used by search engines to help them figure out which sites people are really visiting, as opposed to which ones are just trying to “game the system” by just building links.

Cons of Parallax Webdesign

Anytime you have a list of pros there are going to be cons and, as far as search engines go, these are pretty significant tradeoffs. As with other highly visual forms of web content like flash, parallax web design is not search engine friendly. Putting all of your content on one page may work for the users, but for search engines this leads to one massive page about a lot of things, and it doesn’t allow you to focus in on keyword concept. The second big disadvantage of parallax web design is that it’s not mobile friendly and doesn’t display well or at all on small resolution screens. At a recent conference, Google’s lead spam engineer Matt Cutts said they expect mobile search to surpass desktop search in the next 1-2 years. Since ignoring mobile customers is not a good strategy, a separate mobile website must be created in order for a company to reach their entire audience, which costs more from both a development and maintenance standpoint, and creates all sorts of technical SEO problems you have to solve. Another big disadvantage is performance. Designing impressive eye catching visual displays will work really great on the powerful computers your marketing, advertising or development agency owns, however, the code will run a lot slower and the performance will not be as good on the average home computer that may be 3-4 years old. If the people developing your parallax site don’t design for performance your parallax web design will be as much fun as a Ferrari stuck in first gear.

Is Parallax Webdesign Good for Search Engine Optimization

Is parallax website design good for SEO? Probably not. Looking at the performance concerns, the importance of mobile, and the ability to target multiple keyword concepts on a website, choosing to go with parallax web design is going to handicap your overall SEO strategy. Unless you are a big company, with a huge advertising budget and pre-existing mindshare like Sony or Honda, it’s unlikely a parallax website will rank for anything other than branded company product terms. If instead of building an entire website on one parallax page, you designed one page per keyword concept using parallax that would make things a lot better, however, you would still have to deal with performance and mobile concerns. As a business owner it’s important you understand the tradeoffs in using parallax web design and how going that route is going to lead to more time, resources, and money you will need to allocate to solve the problems parallax creates. Parallax is extremely fun and interesting to look at and use, and it is more immersive and lets you tell a better story, but it’s not without tradeoffs, and it’s not the right choice for everyone.

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3 Responses to Is Parallax Web Design Good For SEO?

  1. RyanMJones says:

    I did an experiment on a site with expected results. Took 6 pages, made them one parallax scrolling page. All the content remained the same. All the old URLs 301’d to the new parallax page. New page traffic from search was down about 20% compared to the sum of the previous 6 pages search traffic. I chalk it up (mostly) to losing the ability to optimize 6 different title tags.

  2. JudyBellem says:

    Excellent points made in this post. Parallax website design is becoming a hot topic among website designers, but marketers should understand these pros and cons and have a voice at the creative table as well. Thanks for doing the research.

  3. Carla Dawson says:

    Hi Mike,

    Parallax scrolling is not limited to one page. I wrote an article about this on Moz. You may want to check it out.