I was recently asked a question from a client about something she had heard on the grapevine – usually when I hear or see a sentence starting with “I heard … is bad for SEO” I admit, I cringe. There is so much misinformation out there about SEO and what is considered “bad” for it, and I’ve whinged about this before; just because you heard it from some stranger on the Internet who heard it from some other stranger on the Internet, doesn’t mean they know what the fuck they’re talking about. They might, but they probably don’t.
Back to the question, which was, “I heard that sliders/slideshows on website are bad for SEO, is that right?”
This was a really good question. And I didn’t know the answer to it. I knew some opinions about it, but I hadn’t actually ever read the actual facts about sliders and SEO. So because I’m a people pleaser, I put my researcher’s hat on and did some investigating into the Pro’s vs Con’s of having a website slider/slideshow. Here’s what I came up with.
Firstly, what is a slider/slideshow?
A slider is a series of images on your website that slide across the screen in a slideshow fashion. The images usually slide automatically, may have some text overlaying the image either with or without a CTA (call to action). Need to see an example? Check out: http://www.frostedbynicci.com.au
So, the pro’s and cons of having a slider/slideshow/carousel on your website? I’ve created an infographic to give you the short version, below:
And here’s the broken down version:
WHY THEY’RE GOOD
1. They’re visually appealing (if done well)
Having big, good quality, eye-catching and attention grabbing images on your website that appeal to your key audience, is a great way to give off that “wow factor” when a person lands on your website. They’re met with a huge impression, and provide a highly visual experience, and if done really well? A lasting impression.
2. They’re good for story-telling
Websites in this day in age need to be more about story telling using images, more than story telling using loads of words that nobody has time to read. If you’re able to tell a story or tell us everything we need to know, and tell us everything we didn’t know we needed to know, in some well placed and high quality images on your website, then you’re more likely to hold the attention of that website user than if they have to read a bunch of words – people are time poor; nobody has time to read a website and find the information they’re looking for, but put that information in images that they understand, that promotes some kind of emotion in them, that speaks to them? That’s half the battle. So having them in a slider in a well thought out sequence is a good way of show-casing your story.
3. They’re good for highlighting new content
Got a new promotion you want to advertise? A sale? A new service? A new anything? The slider is great for shouting to the world that you have a new something – again though, making sure the images or graphics are of good quality and tell the story or get to the point quickly, is crucial. You can also add your ‘click throughs’ to each image to encourage the user to be active on your site, and participate on your site.
4. Use sliders as a portfolio
Using sliders to show off your latest products or designs for example, is a quick way to display your work; people can usually click on the navigation arrow to click through the slides or click on the slides to get more information on a particular piece of your work or product for easy access to the product/display page.
5. They encourage product click through
Showcasing your products or services through slider images and having a visable and working CTA (call to action) on your website encourages people to click through to the rest of your website in a quick and easy manner. Rather than just looking at a pretty picture, by having a link on the images is a good way to encourage user activity and keep them engaged on your website.
WHY THEY’RE NOT SO GOOD
(and boy! is there a lot of slider hate out there)
I have to tell you, when researching into this topic? I came across soooo many headlines/snippets in the SERP’s (search engine results pages) that looked like this:
“Why sliders SUCK!”
“Sliders are KILLING YOUR SEO!”
“Get sliders off your website NOW!”
And I really found it hard to find articles that encouraged website sliders, but nonetheless, here’s the main reasons why “they” say that website sliders are bad for SEO:
1. They slow down site speed
Yes, high resolution images on your website can absolutely slow down your site load speed or page speed. And if you have multiple images in your slider that are all high res and large file sizes, you can expect to have a slow site speed for your website. Is there a possible fix for this? Yep. Compress your images without degrading the quality of the image, as much as you possibly can.
2. Slider images default to having multiple h1 tags on your page
Google requires our websites to have ONE h1 tag per page on our website; one. Not 2, or 3, or 10. ONE. Unfortunately with sliders on websites they can automatically pick up a h1 tag without you even knowing it, and this is a Google ‘no no’. Is there a fix? Usually, yes. Ensure the images in your slider don’t carry a h1 tag – this may be difficult if you don’t know coding knowledge or cannot access the heading tags in your website backend.
3. Sliders push your important content ‘below the fold’ which results in a bad user experience
Sliders are generally quite large in size and take up a lot of room on your website’s home page – which usually means that the other important information on your website gets pushed below the fold (meaning, people have to scroll down to find the important content on your site). As a general rule, your most important information should be front and centre of your website, above the fold – so we know exactly who you are, what you do, what you sell/the service you provide and contact details. There really isn’t a huge amount of space above the fold, so by having a slider take up all that room? Usually means you push aside the actual important information.
Is there a fix? I don’t see why you can’t have a smaller slider, with compressed images, no multiple heading tags and also make room for the “important” info above the fold without making it look messy or cluttered or confusing to the user, would be a problem. But knowing how to structure all of that is another thing.
4. They generally don’t look good or work well on a mobile website
This is probably the biggest concern with sliders on websites in my opinion. You’re not going to get the same user-experience on website via a desktop than you are on a mobile phone, or even a tablet. You have so much more space on a desktop or laptop to create an awesome user-experience, than you do on a mobile. Mobile content has to be in the forefront of your mind when it comes to designing a website or owning a website – ‘mobile first’, says Google and all the stats on internet use in todays world.
So if you have a slider on your website that looks flipping amazing on your desktop or laptop but the same effect doesn’t flow to your mobile site? You’re in trouble. Even in my own personal experience and research looking at websites with sliders (and I’ve created sliders on my own websites and my clients websites), I’ve noticed that sliders on mobile sites are hard to see, are too small, don’t leave a lasting impression on me and I tend to scroll right past it to get to the information I’m looking for. This equals a bad user-experience.
Is there a fix? Yes. Remove sliders from your mobile sites and just have stand alone images to create the same visual effect as your desktop.
TO SUMMARISE – Are sliders bad for SEO?
My answer: Yes – if the images high res, large file types, on a slider that’s too big on the screen and takes up all the space and pushes aside the super important info, and all have a h1 tag on them.
The solution: If you must have a slider, make sure your images are good quality but compressed to an appropriate file size, the slider doesn’t take up the entire space above the fold, and you can still fit in all your important info, and remove any h1 tags and make sure the links on the images (if you have them) actually work – and overall – create a good user-experience, then they’re OK in my book.
Just make sure you keep testing and measuring and analysing your SEO and site speed regularly to keep on top of anything that contributes to a bad user-experience or pisses off Google.
Written by: Karlie Plowman – The Techno Bird