Carousels, or image sliders, are a feature of many business websites. Often they appear on the homepage occupying a significant amount of space at the top of the screen. Good carousels have attractive, well thought out images, along with direct marketing messages and links to other pages of content. They also often have cool-looking design features, particularly in regard to how text is displayed, or how the different images transition. This seems positive on the surface. But there is something nasty lurking behind your carousel: it’s bad for SEO.
Having a carousel on your website is like using a Segway instead of walking. Segways are those battery-powered, two-wheeled machines designed for personal transportation - as a substitute to walking (and getting exercise). These machines are pointless because they do not improve the way that people get around. Plus they encourage laziness (and they solve a “problem” that doesn’t even exist).
Segways are similar to image carousels. They are annoying and they damage your website's SEO. Plus, everyone knows that there are healthier, more efficient ways of showing images and marketing messages.
How Carousels Damage SEO
Carousels impact SEO in a number of ways:
Speed - carousels slow down websites. Speed is one of the key factors that Google judges a website on. It is not a good user experience either.
Mobile problems - sliders don't always work well on mobile devices. Even when they do work they are often slow. Both of these are issues are bad when it comes to SEO, particularly given some of Google’s latest algorithm changes (which place even great emphasis on mobile friendly content).
Content visibility - most websites position their sliders on the homepage, directly below the menu. This means they are the main element on the page, while the rest of your content is pushed down. Google's algorithm likes web pages where the content is immediately visible to the user. Carousels force your visitors to scroll, so this is also bad for SEO.
H1 tags - some carousels also present H1 tag problems. This typically happens when there is a heading in the slider. These headings are usually tagged as H1 which means you have multiple H1 tags on the page. In addition they change as the carousel rotates, and your main content H1 tag appears further down the page. None of this is good for SEO.
A lot of the points above could also be included in a list of things that demonstrate how carousels damage user experience. But you don't even need to look at a list like that when there are statistics that show the ineffectiveness of carousels. According to this research, only one percent of users click on images or links in a slider.
Alternatives To Carousels
The simple alternative to showing a carousel is to show a static image with a single call to action. Your visitors will find this more relevant, and it will integrate better with the rest of the content on the page.
Sometimes websites use carousels to help visitors navigate to particular sections of your website. If this is the case you will have to create alternatives, such as within the content, or by using feature areas.
When you remove a carousel from your website (or don’t include one in the first place) you’ll have more of an opportunity to express your message. You’ll now have a large and highly visible section of your screen to increase your conversions. Use it wisely.