There’s quite a heated debate at present about parallax design and its effects on SEO. Many business owners think that website decisions should be easy – it should be straightforward to decide what the best choice is for the business’s online presence and then to implement it. Sadly, it’s not quite that simple – websites serve difference purposes and have different audiences and defining the best design for any organization’s website needs to be partly based on the target audience.
It’s a visual effect, the term that describes a displacement or difference in the apparent position of an object viewed along two different lines of sight. What does that mean? Well, if you play video games, you’ll probably be used to parallax – it’s the effect where multiple backgrounds are used, which appear to move at different speeds to give a suggestion of depth of field. Objects nearer to the view have a bigger parallax then more distant objects. It’s one of the many effects developed by the gaming industry that then moved into film and finally into website design – perhaps the easiest way to think about it is that parallax is part of the toolkit that creates ‘bullet time’, the visual effect that slows a bullet or other projectile for the viewer’s benefit, whilst blurring the background to maintain an impression of velocity.
Parallax has some amazing advantages:
But there are some major disadvantages too:
There are reasons to use parallax, but they may not be cogent reasons for the average business or organization. There are also ‘fixes’ for parallax in relation to organic SEO, but most of them will fall foul of Google’s guidelines and could therefore lead to dramatic penalization. Anybody who says they can SEO your parallax site should be viewed with extreme caution – whilst there are ways to improve your search engine visibility, most of them require quite a lot of work.
Parallax plus – some sites are using a parallax main page (often the home page) with sub-pages that are static. This is how Spotify manages to balance its seamless front page with a series of content dense static pages that are accessed through content links. If your users are VISUAL, and seeking an IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE then parallax plus static pages may work for you.
The negatives to parallax plus are the need to maintain the content links via the parallax page which can be quite an intensive process, and you’re still not going to get a full picture of user engagement because if they don’t leave the landing page, you don’t get good data.
Parallax light – this is the opposite of parallax plus. You design your site using classic SEO architecture and then within each of those static SEO’d pages, you place some parallax scrolling design effects. This works because each page has an url, H1 heading and keywords, but also contains the sexy parallax effect. If your users are seeking ATTRACTIVE CONTENT and you require DETAILED TRACKING of their behaviour this may be the best solution.
The downside here is that you end up with many more pages, and that can lead to more maintenance. Also, because parallax can be slower to load, you can end up with a site that causes the impatient to click away.