How Infinite Scroll Impacts Search Engine Optimization

Infinite scroll and search engine optimization don’t play nice together. Given that infinitely-scrolling websites aren’t exactly a new thing on the web, that’s something we’ve known for at least a decade. The problem, as noted by search engine marketing expert Moz, is that many sites implement infinite scrolling via JavaScript, which Google can’t really crawl effectively. 

There are plenty of other arguments against infinite scroll beyond its impact on SEO, as summarized by digital marketer Monish Reddy

It can be stressful and disorienting for users, offering a disorienting user experience with muddled navigation and the inability to bookmark specific pieces of content. If improperly implemented, it can send your website’s performance into the toilet. It also makes it nearly impossible to implement Google Analytics, meaning you’re functionally flying blind when it comes to your site’s metrics.

You’d think that in light of the above, infinite scrolling would be a dead trend. It isn’t, though. There are plenty of websites that use the feature, including Buzzfeed, Mashable, and Facebook.

These might not be the best examples. In the case of Facebook, it’s likely the social media giant isn’t particularly concerned with its rankings on the search engine results page. It’s the world’s largest social network. It’s going to dominate the search results no matter what it does. 

Same deal with Mashable and Buzzfeed. They’re fairly titanic in their respective industries. They probably aren’t going to have much trouble ranking. 

Does this mean that you should abandon the idea of infinite scrolling altogether, and spring for pagination instead? 

Not exactly. It’s actually possible to create an infinitely-scrolling website that’s both user-friendly and crawlable.  First, you’ll need to paginate your server-side content. 

Divide your content into reasonably-sized chunks, such as individual blog posts or articles. The idea is to organize things in such a way that visitors to your site can find what they’re looking for with ease and without too much scrolling. Basically, you’ll want to build your website like it doesn’t have infinite scroll enabled.

Next, you can simply install a plugin like Infinite Ajax Scroll (which is also available on WordPress).  Note that in order to implement this effectively, you will need a bit of JavaScript knowledge. We said it was possible, not easy. While infinite scroll can be a pretty neat feature, there’s a good chance your website doesn’t really need it. Ask yourself honestly if it’s essential to how your audience experiences your content and engages with your brand. If you can’t immediately answer that question, then chances are fairly high the answer is no.