In the following blog we will try to answer a common question. Are Image Sliders Bad for SEO? Let’s find out!
One of the most impressive items we see on a website are Sliders. But are Image Sliders Bad for SEO?
Before we get started, lets find out what an Image Slider is and what it can do.
The most common place to see an image slider on a website is of course at the top the Home Page. A Slider works very much like a slide show, presenting several images at pre-determined durations. Additionally, each image can be accompanied by headlines or text, but in more complex configurations, drop downs, links and images can be added. You can even play videos and create animations through some sliders.
With great images and a little bit of an artistic eye, your Home Page Banner will look incredible.
But Sliders are not just used for Top of page banners. Sliders are awesome if you want to present a cool conveyor belt of images, perhaps from your gallery or portfolio. Products can be displayed in rotation across the page and even made clickable to the all-important shop pages.
So let’s be honest, what is not to love about Image Sliders?
From a Website Designers Perspective.
Website Designers love Sliders. Afterall, Image Sliders make web developers look very talented indeed. Clients take one look at the home page of their nice new website and are instantly wowed by the glossy images and cool automation across the screen. Yes, there is no doubt at all, that when it comes to creating website aesthetics, Sliders are the best thing since sliced bread.
From a Website Developers Perspective.
Firstly, did you know there is a difference between a Web Designer and a Web Developer. Well yes there is! A Web Designer focuses on building a pretty website. A Web developer, also has to consider other factors, including Business objectives and SEO.
So now that we know that, how does a developer view image sliders.
There are mixed emotions in play for Website Developers when it comes to Sliders. If we use a slider, the client is going to think us really clever and love the website from the get go. On the flip side, their love for the developer and their website could be short lived, when the website fails to rank in Search Engines and causes mobile devices to run slow or simply wig out.
From a Search Engines Perspective
Search Engines such as Yahoo, Bing or Google are not big fans of Sliders. If you are a Search Engine, the animation and different images can get quite confusing. But that’s not the main reason they don’t like sliders.
More than anything else, Search Engines love Speed. Maybe it’s because they are engine, kind of makes sense in a strange kind of way.
Sliders are inherently slow and the developers who make Sliders don’t really care that they are slow. Afteral, like a Web Designer, they are in the business of making things look really cool. For them, speed isn’t really a concern. For an SEO manager or Website Developer however, Sliders are the work of Beelzebub himself.
So are Image Sliders Bad for SEO?
With my Mornington Peninsula Website Designer hat off, my SEO Manager hat on and crucifix firm in hand, I scream to all image sliders “The Power of Christ compels you”. They truly are the work of the devil and without a lot of custom coding and configuration, cripple any websites performance. In most cases, we can see an average Website Mobile Page Speed drop by up to 85%, when we add an Image Slider. Are image sliders bad for seo? Hell yeah!
But why are Sliders so slow?
Sliders are heavy. When we say heavy, we refer to the amount of data they contain. Sliders carry several images, usually big ones. Good, hi-res images can be 1mb or over each. Then there is the animation. This is driven by CSS and Java Script, which in simple terms, means lots of code. The more images and code there is, the more data has to be sent from the server, across the internet and into your web browser.
Some Slider Plugins such as ‘Slider Revolution’ offer a couple of optimisation functions which they claim will improve the speed. Our testing however concluded that the ‘Page Loading Optimization’ settings in ‘Slider Revolution’, actually cause it to run even slower.
Can we improve Image Slider Performance for SEO?
While slider developers neither support or are prepared to address SEO issues, some website developers (like Brag Design) do have some work around. They are never guaranteed, but there are a few tricks that experienced web developers can play to get Slider performance, just over the line. With some work, developers can get you off the Search Engines hate lists and on to the ‘will tolerate list’. Realistically though, don’t expect to get on the Christmas Card list if you have an image slider.
By getting you mobile speeds into the average zone, search engines will neither mark you down or mark you up. They simply ignore it.
How to improve Image Slider Performance
One of the main tools at a Web Developers disposal is Caching. Of course, Slider Plugin Developers actively discourage this, as incorrectly configured Caching can cause their sliders to malfunction and do strange things. They even go as far as to provide custom code for website developers to exclude their slider from Caching. Plugin Support are also less then responsive when contacted about SEO and usually point you to a link showing you how to exclude their plugin from caching. Not helpful!
Another weapon against the evils of sliders is to convert the images to Webp, however with no ‘real’ back up image, this can cause some browser no to show the image at all.
Image Optimisation can help, but it is the CSS and Java Script (code) that are the killer. And the more animations and fancy effects your slider has, the more code it uses. Again, we can cache this, but it has to be right so as not to cause problems.
[Our opinion is non-disciminative, but we have used Slider Revolution Plugin as an example as it is the most popular. Most sliders are equally as bad for SEO. ]
Are Image Sliders Bad for SEO? We know that Sliders are beautiful and we know they impressive. We also know they do have a place in website design, especially where SEO isn’t really a concern. In situations where a website will rank because of its unique brand name (like a record label), we don’t need to worry about SEO. Search Engines just put them to the top of the rankings, no questions asked. For the rest of us though, Search Engines must be obeyed and the success of your business is completely dependent upon meeting their rules.
So do we find Image Sliders Bad for SEO?
Image Sliders make it very difficult to meet search engine rules, so like it or not, you need ask just one simple question before you use one.
Do you want to conform with the Search Engines and get your website seen as quick as possible. Or not!