Pros and Cons: Does Your Website Need Infinite Scroll?

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infinite scroll

For those who are unfamiliar, infinite scroll is a way to display your content that allows your readers to keep scrolling and never stop. In other words, you content is updated and loaded immediately producing an infinite amount of results. Here we’ll walk through the pros and cons of infinite scroll, how it effects your SEO and ultimately, whether it’s a good fit for your website or blog. Below is a screenshot from Pinterest that shows how it works:

Pros and Cons of Infinite Scroll

The best example of this comes in the form of social media networks such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and more, and it makes sense (discussed in the next section). However, many news sites, photo sites, and even small business blogs have also begun taking notice and adopting the practice including. Check out a few examples below.



News Websites

Inc. Magazine

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Mashable

3

The Chicago Tribune

4

Small Business Blogs

CopyPress Blog

6

Uberflip Hub

8

Image and Photography Websites

Google Images

9

Behance.net

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This leads to a few questions: Is infinite scroll going to work for every type of company, and if not, how do you know if it would be successful for you?

Pros and Cons of Infinite Scroll

Fortunately, the answers to most questions come right down to the pros and cons of infinite scroll. There are very clear-cut reasons when it works and reasons when it won’t work, so it’s all about understanding your audience and figuring out whether or not your website benefits from the pros or sides more with the cons.

The Pros of Infinite Scroll

They’re easier for mobile and tablets. Clicking small links to move to another page can be annoying on mobile touchscreen phones or tablets for two reasons: First, it’s sometimes hard to click just because of the nature of the size of the screen, and second, those on the go usually want things as fast as possible. Scrolling will always be easier than clicking.

They keep the readers engaged. Mindlessly scrolling through a website is sometimes the easiest way to stay engaged with someone online. We constantly want to be entertained and not disrupted by having to click a “load more” page and then wait. Infinite scrolling takes advantage of that.

It’s easier to manage large amounts of data. You’re able to show more content at once with infinite scroll, so it’s easier if you have a lot of data.

It’s great if you thrive on real-time information. This is one of the reasons that social media websites thrive on infinite scroll. It updates information faster and keeps things going in real-time.

The Type of Companies that Benefit: Companies where all of the information that they publish is equal will benefit most. In other words, image-driven websites and social media networks work well because there isn’t content you need to read first or things you need to look up. It’s purely for entertainment, and these type of websites generally don’t care if you click. It’s the time on site that matters most, and infinite scrolling helps make that much easier.

So why do websites like Inc. and Mashable employ infinite scroll if they are publishing content and not just images? This says something about the companies. They have a search bar for those who want to search for something specific, but these two news sites may want to focus more on entertainment as opposed to a place where people go to search for something specific. Both Mashable and Inc. publish content on a variety of different topics, so infinite scroll sucks you in.

The Cons of Infinite Scroll

It’s poor when readers are searching for something. If you want to search for something specific, you would have to scroll and scroll and scroll some more before you find it. This can be annoying and overwhelming for readers.

It’s poor if readers are skipping through information. In general, you can’t skip any information with infinite scroll websites. You have to just scroll down until you get to something that interests you.

You cannot have a full footer. Some WordPress themes now allow for infinite scrolling and a small footer with a company name or one link, but by and large you don’t have a footer with this layout. That means important information like Contact pages and About Us have to somehow fit in your header or nowhere at all.

It uses more JavaScript. This was something brought to my attention by Higher Visibility managing partner Scott Langdon. He said, “This isn’t too much of a con, but some people are worried it will be in the future and someday it may affect performance. For now it isn’t much of an issue, but it’s something to consider in the future.”

The Type of Companies that Won’t Benefit: eCommerce type companies are likely not going to do well with infinite scrolling because they thrive on being able to let people research and jump around a site before making a purchasing decision. eCommerce sites are usually full of categories and offer different levels of content for those at different points in the buying cycle. In other words, infinite scroll would be a nightmare for an eCommerce site.

So What About Blogs?

Blogs are tricky because they can go either way. Ultimately, however, and as discussed with the Inc. Magazine and Mashable examples above, whether or not infinite scroll works for your blog depends upon your goals and your audience. Think about why someone visits your website. Do they come to your website not knowing what they’re looking to read? Do they want to do research when they come to your site, or are they hoping to be entertained and visit your site to discover (instead of research) something interesting?

Hopefully the reasons your audience visit your website and the reasons you want your audience to visit the website match up. In other words, you want to be publishing content that goes along with what your readers want, and that also means displaying content the way that your readers want and that will therefore be most successful to you. Once you have these questions figured out, you can make a decision about infinite scroll after you A/B test.

The SEO of Infinite Scroll and How to Get Started

If you’re concerned about the SEO of infinite scroll, there are a few things to understand. First, infinite scrolling is not going to make your site slower or load any slower (assuming you have a good load time already), so you’re in good shape there. However, you have to make sure Google is able to crawl all of your content. With infinite scroll, Google is only able to crawl the first page of content, which means a lot won’t get indexed unless you create static URLs.

Google explained this in more detail here, which I recommend checking out, but in short it’s important that you build your infinite scroll on top of paginated pages, or your archived pages. This means that the backend of your site will include statics links for the bots to crawl. Below is a screenshot from Google that better explains how it works:

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I highly recommend checking out the Google article to learn more detailed information about SEO. In the meantime, you can get started with infinite scroll by either finding a theme that works with infinite scrolling, downloading an infinite scroll plugin for WordPress, or doing things manually by following the direction found here.

The Takeaway

In the end, part of revising your content strategy means not only what content you’re publishing and how you’re promoting, but also how your displaying your content. Infinite scroll is a good option to at least consider if you’re looking to try something new and you think your company fits the mold discussed above. Always be sure to run a few A/B tests before committing, but give it a try and let us know what you think.

What do you think about infinite scroll? Do you find it annoying, or do you think it can work for certain businesses?

Mouse Photo via Shutterstock


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HigherVisibility HigherVisibility is part of the Small Business Trends Publisher Channel, offering a full range of professional interactive marketing services. The mission of HigherVisibility is to provide clients “Valuable Solutions with Visible Results.” HigherVisibility works with companies of all sizes, offering advice on topics ranging from keyword research to algorithm updates.

4 Reactions
  1. I think it can work, but for an extremely small number of situations. Facebook? Sure. Most content sites? No.

  2. Martin Lindeskog

    I have infinite scroll on my personal lifestream site powered by RebelMouse: Martin.Lindeskog.name

    I am doing this for SEO reasons and having everything in one place. It will get my friends and contacts a snapshot / glimpse of my daily social media activities.

  3. I block infinite-scroll websites. They annoy the piss out of me.






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