Jun2
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How Infinite Scrolling Could Hurt your Google Ranking

Posted by Sarah Holt

Tips for getting your site navigation right in the eyes of Google…

These days its hard to build a website without first considering how Google will interpret your user navigation and content. While the latest round of Google algorithm updates including Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird seek to re-balance the scales back in favor of websites that publish regular, high-quality content, the search engine giant admits it can’t always reward sites that introduce new site navigation features – even if users and webmasters love it.

One example of the above is the growing use of infinite scrolling plugins in WordPress, a piece of software that has also been labeled autopagerize, unpaginate, and even endless pages.  This groundbreaking plugin allows a user to scroll infinitely down the page to see new content in real time rather than having to click to the next set of results.

See an example of this in action at Dazed Digital. Many users seem to like this feature but  it’s causing issues for Google. The search engine say that crawlers – the Internet bots that index site content – can’t always emulate manual user behavior like scrolling or clicking a button to load more items, so they don’t always access all individual items in the feed or gallery.

“If crawlers can’t access your content, it’s unlikely to surface in search results,” said Google.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that Google, as usual, has a solution or “workaround’, depending on your point of view.

“To make sure that search engines can crawl individual items linked from an infinite scroll page, make sure that you or your content management system produces a paginated series or component pages to go along with your infinite scroll.”

To see an example site in action, check out thisCodex on appspot.com.  Note the paginated, numbered results at the bottom of the page.

While there are obviously some technical challenges involved in implementing the above, Google does provide some initial pointers in preparing for the project. They advise you to…

  •         Chunk your infinite-scroll page content into component pages that can be accessed when JavaScript is disabled.
  •         Determine how much content to include on each page.
  •         Be sure that if a searcher came directly to this page, they could easily find the exact item they wanted e.g., without lots of scrolling before locating the desired content.
  •         Maintain reasonable page load time.
  •         Divide content so that there’s no overlap between component pages in the series, with the exception of buffering.

The remaining technical steps cover areas such as…

  •         URL configuration,
  •         Pagination values for each component page
  •         Replace and pushState commands
  •         Testing recommendations

To find out more about building the perfect website and naking it search engine friendly, visit Midphase’s website builder page.

 

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