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Have you ever encountered a website where as you scrolled through the site, new information kept popping up and you never reached the bottom? You probably have without even realizing—this is infinite scroll.
What is infinite scroll you may ask? Well, it’s pretty simple.
Infinite scroll could be called the gift that keeps on giving. Instead of having a button at the bottom of the page that prompts the user to “read more”, the user simply needs to continue scrolling down the page and more content will appear. As the user scrolls, more and more information loads.
What Sites Commonly Use Infinite Scrolling?
You’ve probably experienced it without even realizing—infinite scroll is a common feature found on many social media sites like Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Instagram. Sites with lots of user-generated content benefit from infinite scrolling because it is an easy way to handle new content that is constantly being created. You may have experienced infinite scroll while stalking our Facebook profile. (Don’t be ashamed, everyone does it.) We understand if you scrolled for days—Blue Corona is full of funny AND talented employees.
In the image below, you can see the blue loading icons that appear as the page gathers the next set of information to display to the user. Once the content loads, the user can continue reading the profile or newsfeed until the content completely runs out.
Advantages of Implementing Infinite Scroll
Installing an infinite scroll on your website can enhance the user experience in the following ways.
Improve Mobile Friendliness
When on a mobile device, infinite scrolling makes it simple to see everything on your newsfeed at once. It also holds a reader’s attention because they aren’t prompted to click to “read more” (which could distract them).
If the user is constantly being fed new information as they scroll, they will increase the amount of time they spend of the website. For this reason, sites relying on images and social media updates often see positive results from using infinite scroll.
Promote User-Generated and Image-Heavy Content
Websites like Pinterest and Mashable get away with implementing an infinite scroll because their site’s content is represented by images. These sites both have a lot of data to share, and an infinite scroll enables them to display a ton of content all at once. But having a site with lots of images doesn’t necessarily mean infinite scroll will bring a positive outcome. Recently, Etsy tested the infinite scrolling feature and results show that users clicked and favorited fewer items. Users also purchased fewer items from the search results. As a result, Etsy removed infinite scroll from their site after a few short months.
This doesn’t mean that infinite scroll will always work on websites with image heavy content and will fail for e-commerce sites—but you should proceed with caution and expect to track, test, tweak, repeat until you find what works best for you.
Infinite Scrolling Disadvantages
Before installing an infinite scroll on your company’s website or blog, it’s important to consider the following drawbacks.
Increases Search Difficulty
If you’re scrolling through a social feed and click on an enticing link, you’re taken to an external website. Upon returning to the social feed, you’re inconveniently placed back at the top of the content—causing you to start over from the beginning. Similarly, if you’re looking for a specific post or piece of content, it will take you a lot longer to find it on a site that using an infinite scroll. Websites like Google understand this and as a result only use an infinite scroll for their image search results pages—not their web search results.
Excludes a Website Footer
The footer is often used to display additional information and is one of the most significant parts of your website. Footers are a common place for businesses to display their address and contact info, links to important pages, newsletter sign up, service area, and social media icons. Users have become accustomed to finding this information easily by scrolling to their bottom of a website. But if an infinite scroll is being used, there is no bottom of the site—causing users to become frustrated and possibly leave your site without contacting your company.
Infinite Scroll Negatively Impacts SEO
Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller discussed the impact infinite scrolling has on search engine optimization (SEO) on the Google Webmaster Central Blog:
“With infinite scroll, crawlers cannot 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.”
In short, to ensure your website is crawled properly, each article or page of products should have its own natural crawl path. Without individual URLs that are linked to within the site, the crawlers can get confused—which can negatively impact your search rankings!
Should You Use Infinite Scrolling on Your Company Website or Blog?
Every site is different. It’s up to you to decide whether or not your users will find an infinite scroll useful, or if they will find it distracting. Keep in mind studies have shown when users search for information on Google, only 8 percent of people go further than the first page of results. If 92 percent of users are satisfied with receiving only 10 results, do people really want access to infinite information? Or would they prefer to be given clear and concise information that answers the questions they were looking for?
If you’d like help improving your website’s user experience, give Blue Corona a call! Our web design experts can help improve your company’s online presence—resulting in more leads AND sales! Now that we’ve gotten to the bottom of this blog post (because there’s no infinite scroll, get it?), you can contact us to learn more.
About The Author: Katie is an Organic Team Lead at Blue Corona. Outside of content creation and SEO, Katie enjoys stuffing her face with nachos, online shopping, and binge-watching Netflix.
View more blogs by Katie Birkbeck