Marketing 3 min read

Google Explains Why Infinite Scroll Causes SEO Problems

LITUSPRO / Shutterstock.com

LITUSPRO / Shutterstock.com

During a virutal SEO conference called "Better Together," developer advocate at Google Martin Splitt explained why infinite scroll causes SEO issues.

During a technical SEO conference called “Better Together,” Google‘s Martin Splitt explained why infinite scroll causes SEO issues.

Since it was a virtual event, Splitt could share his screen with the attendees. The Google developer advocate did a real-time demonstration of how he debugs search engine optimization problems.

The issues that Splitt considered in the conference were based on real cases that he debugged in the past. One such problem involved content missing from Google’s index.

So, the Google developer walked viewers through a series of steps to identify the issue. This ultimately led to the discovery that the website was utilizing an infinite scroll.

Infinite scroll — also known as lazy loading — is a webdesign method that loads content continually as readers scroll down the page. That way, there would be no need for pagination.

Social media sites such as Twitter have made this technique popular. But how does it affect SEO?

How Infinite Scrolling Affects Search Engine Optimization

For his explanation, Splitt considered a news website that relies on infinite scrolling to load new content. That means the webpage loads additional content only when visitors scroll to the bottom of the screen.

The problem, according to Splitt, is that Googlebot can only crawl what’s immediately visible on a webpage. “What does Googlebot not do? It doesn’t scroll, “he said.

In other words, the search engine bot cannot crawl contents that loads only after scrolling a page.

Note that this statement is not in line with what Splitt said last month during an episode of Javascript SEO Office Hour Hangout. At the time, the Google developer didn’t definitively say whether the search engine can index pages with infinite scrolling.

Instead, he said:

“I would highly recommend checking out the testing tools to see the rendered HTML because it depends a lot on how you build your infinite scroll and how we can discover additional content.”

Now, Splitt says site owners should consider changing their implementation to rely less on scrolling.

He admitted that it’s alright to use infinite scrolling for images.

However, if you must use this method for key web page content, your JavaScript library must support loading data when it enters the viewport. Alternately, you can use paginated loading alongside lazy loading.

Whatever method you may choose, Splitt emphasizes the importance of testing your implementation.

Testing Your Implementation of Lazy Loading

The site owners could have discovered the problem that he debugged if they had tested their application of infinite scrolling. One way to do this is through Google’s rich results test.

Thanks to the rich result test, you can view the exact way that Googlebot can crawl when it lands on your site. Also, you can test lazy loading implementation by using the Puppeteer script below.

Test lazy loading implementation by using the Puppeteer script.
Image Credit: developers.google.com

Read More: Why Small Businesses Should Hire Professional SEO Services

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