Infinite Scroll or Pagination: Which is Better for Search Engine Optimization?

Brandon LazovicApril 17, 2021

There are many different ways to design a website and the way that you choose to do it can have an impact on your search engine optimization. One of the most popular types of designs right now is infinite scrolling, which has been taking over on a lot of websites as a preferred method for increased user engagement. 

Infinite scrolling was first used by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites in order to load more content automatically as users scroll down their screen instead of loading page after page like when using pagination. 

This article will discuss the differences between these two approaches as well as the pros and cons of each one so that you can decide which is best for your business!

What Is Infinite Scroll? 

The infinite scroll technique has become very popular recently in web design. As the user scrolls down a page, more content automatically and continuously loads from below the screen. Content is streamed as it becomes available so users are commonly engaged beyond their current scrolling session.

Is Infinite Scroll Bad For SEO? 

Webpages with infinite scrolling have a challenge when it comes to search engine optimization. Search engines make their index based on what's present in the visible area of a webpage, meaning that your content is missed if it is not present within one scroll. Some websites use pagination instead, which has its own challenges and its own benefits.

Google isn’t able to emulate user behavior, like users scrolling further down a page, which makes infinite scroll suboptimal for page discovery and indexation beyond what’s initially loaded in the first frame of your web page. 

Read our latest search engine optimization beginner’s guide to learn more about SEO tactics you should be considering for your website.

Pros Of Infinite Scrolling

Below are several benefits to using infinite scroll compared to pagination. 

Better User Experience

Some of the benefits to using infinite scroll are that it creates a better user experience. It allows for an uninterrupted, smooth scrolling experience without having to click 'next' on every page. 

Increased Engagement

Another benefit to infinite scrolling is that it increases engagement. This can be done by adding call-to-actions at the end of each section (or page) with a link back to the top, or having an adjustable slider bar so people can go through content faster when they want to skim and slower when they are interested in viewing more detail.

This way, people are more likely to read everything since they have the option of reading all at once or piece by piece. This can also be done with a pagination design, although it is harder because you need to scroll back up to find where on your page you left off and get engaged in that content again.

Better Mobile Experience

Since there is no pagination and only one frame per screen, this provides a seamless browsing experience across all devices, especially for mobile users that are trained to constantly scroll on their phones to load content into frame (like on social media feeds such as Facebook or Twitter).

Cons Of Infinite Scrolling

While there are merits to using infinite scrolling on your web pages, there are also disadvantages, which we’ll cover below. 

Crawling Issues

One of the main disadvantages to using infinite scrolling is that crawlers will have a difficult time indexing your website. This can be problematic because search engines often rely on indexes in order to create accurate listings when people are searching for websites online, and if they cannot access an entire site then it may not show up at all during their searches, which is a detriment for your site’s crawl budget. 

Users Can’t Access Site Footers

Because content is constantly loading into view with infinite scrolling, your site's footer will be continuously pushed down, which can hurt the overall user navigation if they're reliant or accustomed to using a site footer. 

Negative Impact On Page Load Times

In general, infinite scrolling can have a negative impact on page load times. This is because of the amount of data required to be loaded and rendered for each screen that appears with endless scroll sites; this process may not happen quickly enough if your connection speed isn't fast or stable, which will hurt the overall user experience and cause them to bounce (leave your website). 

Difficult To Find Information

Users may find it more difficult to find information on a site with infinite scrolling because of the continuous loading. If they lose their place in long articles or content, it can be hard for them to get back to where they were just by clicking through and searching like you would if there was pagination. 

The major drawback that many people point out about using an infinite scroll is that search engines can't index your posts when all your content appears at once without any sort of pagination breaks; not showing up in search results will make reaching new audiences difficult as well as decreasing overall web traffic from non-organic sources. 

What Is Pagination? 

Pagination is when you divide content across multiple pages.  Pagination can be achieved by either automatically loading subsequent pages as the visitor scrolls down or through manual pagination links and buttons.

Paginated content is easier for search engines to index, build a cache of your site’s content, and rank higher in SERPS (search engine results page). Additionally, it allows visitors who may have lost their place at any point in long articles to easily find where they left off with just one click on the previous link. 

Some sites like Medium use both infinite scrolling along with internal pagination; this gives users the best of two worlds: not only does it make navigation easy but also helps increase rankings because of increased user engagement. 

Is Pagination Bad For SEO?

In the case of product pages on e-commerce websites, or for blog category pages, pagination can help search engine optimization by making it easier for web crawlers to index the content on your website. 

However, pagination can divide link equity amongst several different pages and result in thin content, which can hurt keyword rankings if not implemented correctly. This is especially true for articles or blog posts - it’s better practice to include long-form content on one page that loads into frame, rather than divide it into many different sections through pagination. 

Pros Of Pagination

Below we’ll discuss the pros of using pagination for your website. 

Easier Crawling and Indexing Of Site Pages

On product pages for e-commerce websites, or for blog category pages, the biggest benefit of pagination is to help search engine optimization by making it easier for web crawlers to index the content on your website, rather than using a method like infinite scrolling. 

Improved Page Load Times

Because you're dividing assets among multiple pages, each individual page won't be as resource intensive to load compared to something like infinite scrolling, making for a speedier user experience. 

Cons Of Pagination

There are a handful of disadvantages associated with pagination, which we’ll also cover below. 

Duplicate Content

One of the biggest disadvantages to using pagination is that it can lead to duplicate content. A prime example would be if your blog has a category page with several posts on it; each post will show up as its own URL, and you’ll have multiple versions of this same piece of content indexed by Google (with different URLs). This means they are more likely to rank for search terms related to all those posts--even though only one or two at most should even make an appearance in SERPs since they're not long enough! 

Pagination also forces users into loading new pages every time they want to see additional products from the category. Studies show that bounce rates increase significantly when people visit sites where this is too prevalent. 

Thin Content

Another disadvantage of pagination involves thin content, which are pages that have less than 300 words on them and provide little to no benefit to the user.  This can be a problem for companies with large catalogs because they will often have hundreds of paginated pages.

In contrast, infinite scroll enables users to see more products without having to click through multiple pages. Plus, it doesn't interrupt the user experience by forcing them onto another page every time they want to find something new in their category or brand.

Which Should I Use For SEO - Pagination Or Infinite Scrolling? 

While there are merits to both methods, pagination is the ideal solution for improving SEO for your site. 

The main reason is that Google isn’t able to emulate user behavior to force your web page to load more content, because it can’t scroll further down a page. 

This is problematic for e-commerce sites or blogs with category pages, because Google won’t be able to discover or crawl a majority of pages on your website. If it can’t crawl these pages, then they won’t be indexed or rank on Google. 

While there are some cons to pagination, it’s the main solution that you should be incorporating for large websites to ensure that all of its web pages are crawled and indexed so they can rank effectively in the search results.

Which SEO Strategy is Better for Your Website: Infinite Scroll or Pagination
Which SEO Strategy is Better for Your Website: Infinite Scroll or Pagination

In this video, I'll discuss the pros and cons of Infinite Scroll Vs Pagination for SEO. Infinite scroll is a great way to keep your users on your website longer, but it can cause some issues with Google's crawlers and ranking algorithms when you're not careful. Pagination allows you to control exactly how many pages are shown in search engine results pages (SERPS), which can help improve your rankings if done correctly. Which one will work best for you?

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