Search Engine Optimization has evolved over time. Websites and webmasters keep up with changes to Google and other search engines by watching trends and trying to keep ahead of the curve. SEO specialists and webmasters use complex tools to monitor what users do: Where they click, what pages they visit most, what elements they spend time on before moving past. There is a large amount of scientific data written about users and how they percieve websites.
A trend for a long time now has been image sliders along the first fold of a website.
What is the First Fold?
The first fold of a website is the first ‘page’ you see when you load a website. It’s their homepage. Specifically, the first fold is the top, what you see without scrolling down. Think of opening a newspaper up for the first time. The top half of the front page is also known as the first fold. It gives the first impression of a website and the content included.
Some businesses prefer simple websites. Others go for a route of complex, while yet more try to make a witty or funny first fold to get users interested. Google has been moving towards giving websites with efficient, quickly-loaded and clear first folds higher ranking than others. That is where image sliders have often been placed in recent times.
What is an Image Slider?
An image slider is a common component of modern website layouts. They’re a scrolling set of images at the top of a webpage, usually with some form of keyword or SEO text on each. Often image sliders are links or advertisements for services. They scroll through from one image to the next. Image sliders can be a geat tool to give an interactive, visually pleasing example of what a business has to offer.
Cosmetically-focused businesses can show off their work easily with an image slider. Cleaning companies, handymen and builders, craftsmen, restaurants, and many other businesses can attract customers with images of their products.
The Problem with Image Sliders
While image sliders are normally an important part of a web designer’s toolkit, they are more recently often being punished by Google and the changing trend in internet viewership. More and more traffic is being directed through mobile devices. What does this mean for you and your business website? It means that you may wish to consider changing your first fold if you have an image slider. They are still valuable to have as a part of a website, but not as a front-page headline piece.
Why is this?
- Sliders are not optimal for mobile data plans or devices.
- Image-heavy websites take longer to load, which can severely impact their response time.
- The code for image sliders can be complex and hard for some devices to load, leading to some platforms having errors.
- Users are inundated with sliders. They see banner ads and sliders on many websites, and tend to skip right past them.
- Sliders have a 1% or less click through rate. People don’t click on them for links or more information, as this Leadpages article points out.
- Image sliders often move too quickly or too slowly. Timing them and picking the right images can be arduous work that doesn’t pay off for the time spent.
How Does This Affect My Site Design?
If you really want an image slider, it can be incorporated as a centerpiece to your website’s theme! However, you should be aware that it will likely hurt your search results and by extension, other facets of your online marketing campaigns. Google’s searching and ranking algorithms are at the heart of online marketing simply because of how many people use it to find businesses, contractors, and other services. Any small change can either help or hinder your company’s ability to be found easily online.
It doesn’t matter if you’re working on a new site entirely, or redesigning your current one, Google’s preferential site design will greatly affect your choices. At the moment, websites which are responsive and efficent are ranking better than those which are image-heavy, no matter how nice layouts with a slider may look.
What are other options?
Website design is incredibly malleable. As long as there are images, relevant text, and interesting content, it can be rearranged in an incredibly wide array of styles. What you want for your website can be easily unique! The Leadpages article linked above advocates for a “Hero” layout.
The “Hero” layout is a popular design where the first fold is the key focus of the homepage of the website. There is a key image involved, usually a background picture, with some text and links. Webdesign.org has some fine examples listed with a minimalist style. This style is helpful because it’s fast, responsive, mobile-friendly, and easy for users to navigate. Google’s ranking algorithm gives those qualities a bonus when deciding where they show up in search results.
When thinking about what you want your business website to look like, you should try to think like one of the consumer’s you’re trying to connect to. What do you look for when you’re trying to find a business to work with? What attracts you about their website? Where are your eyes drawn to?
Whatever you might decide on, you can get help redesigning your website to a more Google- and user-friendly webpage that’s fast and responsible for both personal computers and mobile devices. We offer several services that can help get your design on the right track to bringing in business. All you need to do is contact Cal Coast Web Design today for a consultation to see what your options are today!