Infinite scrolling often creates beautiful websites that are easy to use. The fact that you never have to click a link to navigate to other areas of the site makes it extremely user friendly. And with everything on one page, the content can be cohesive, which naturally and visually leads you through each section.
However, this solution does have its downfalls. From a search perspective it makes the page harder to crawl. Depending on the content being delivered, it can actually be harder to use since moving throughout the site isn’t as easy as it could be if there were a top level navigation.
Below are a few items to consider before using infinite scroll for your website.
Crawling and Indexing
Search engine crawlers cannot mimic a site visitor’s behavior, so if your site loads as a user scrolls, they more often than not won’t be able to access all of the items in your page’s feed. This means only a small portion of your content can be found.
In addition, your site will typically only exist on one page, lowering your potential of ranking for a variety of queries.
Analytics and Tracking
Analytics will be more difficult to implement on an infinite scroll site. Placing the Google Analytics code onto the site won’t provide much insight as you are tracking visits to a single page. To get the insight you want, custom tracking will need to be set up that includes event and goal tracking.
Internal and External Linking
If a user clicks away, or an external link is pointed at your site, it is hard to dictate where that user will enter. For example, if they were a few scrolls down the page and leave your site, when they return they will not be placed in the position they were previously at. They would need to return to the site and manually scroll down to their last location. In addition, if an external link is pointed at your site you won’t be able to dictate where they enter as you could if there were multiple pages to link to.
If too much scroll is used, a site visitors browser memory will be maxed out. This can cause performance issues and lead to a bad user experience. If it gets too slow, the visitor may be more inclined to leave your site.
This also affects the search engine crawlers as they only have so much memory available for crawling.
Lack of a Footer
If the site is constantly loading content at the bottom there will be no real estate for a footer. Users typically expect to find one so they will keep scrolling until they do. With an infinite scroll website this will take quite some time.
A footer can be added as a static piece, but this would take up valuable screen real estate. Not having a footer also means additional internal links can’t be added that would otherwise be used to pass authority around the site.
Is Infinite Scroll Right for Your Site?
In some cases an infinite scroll site is a good idea, just make sure it is the right format for the message your website is delivering. While infinite scroll might make sense for a portfolio site, it won’t work well for ecommerce.
Google has outlined some potential ways to fix the issues it causes, but they require advanced development. Weigh the compromises before moving forward and understand that from an SEO perspective there may be some downfalls to using infinite scroll on your website.