Google Tells You How To Make Infinite Scroll More Search-Friendly

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Does your site utilize infinite scroll? When does right, it improves the user experience, and saves users from having to click over to multiple pages to find the additional info they seek. Have you ever considered how it might affect your search presence?

Google is offering up some advice on implementing a search-friendly version of infinite scroll, which helps Google recognize and crawl that content.

"Your site’s news feed or pinboard might use infinite scroll—much to your users’ delight!" Google says on the Webmaster Central blog. "When it comes to delighting Googlebot, however, that can be another story. 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."

For one, you need to make sure you or your CMS creates a paginated series to go along with the infinite scroll, as Google demonstrates below. They also offer a demo here.

Infinite scroll

Each item must be accessible, and listed only once in the paginated series.

"Before you start, chunk your infinite-scroll page content into component pages that can be accessed when JavaScript is disabled," Google says. "Determine how much content to include on each page. Be sure that if a searcher came directly to this page, they could easily find the exact item they wanted (e.g., without lots of scrolling before locating the desired content). Maintain reasonable page load time. Divide content so that there’s no overlap between component pages in the series (with the exception of buffering)."

Google also advises that you structure URLs for infinite scroll search engine processing. You can see some examples in the blog post. You should also use rel=next and rel=prev with each component of your pagination configuration. Google will ignore pagination values in the <body> because tey could be created with user-generated content.

You should also use replaceState/pushState on the infinite scroll page,according to Google. Google suggests pushState for user actions that resemble clicks or turning pages, and providing users with the ability to serially backup through most recently paginated content.

Finally, Google says you should test your implementation by making sure page values adjust as users scroll and investigating potential usability implications.

Google itself has considered using infinite scroll on its search results in the past, but has ultimately elected to stick with the paginated version of search results we're all used to.

Ultimately, you have to decide how helpful it is to your own site's experience. Imagine if you had to click over to another page for every ten tweets in your Twitter timeline. Your decision might ultimately come down to how frequently the content on your site is being pushed out.

Images via Google

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

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