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Carousels and SEO

Long-term readers may remember that I’ve always hated rotating picture/caption panel carousels on home pages. Nobody, but nobody scrolls through these panels manually, so the only way anyone will see a panel other than the first one will be where the scrolling is automated, and the carousel changes before the visitor has become engaged with something else on the page.

But you don’t need me to tell you this, I hope: it’s a simple task to measure the clicks on each scrolling panel, and those who’ve done it will know that only the first one ever gets any clicks.

Home page carousels normally tell me that the website was designed with heavy input from competing interests at the company, and the carousel was included to keep all of them happy. Or perhaps the website graphic designer just felt like suggesting the idea, and whoever signed off the site just said: “Whatever”. There’s no science behind them.

One question though is: “How do they relate to SEO?”

In other words, do the search engines see all the panels? The answer is… possibly. It depends how they’re coded. Some methods load all the data up front, so the search engines will probably hoover up all of the panels. Other methods only fetch the subsequent panels after they’re triggered by clicks or time delays, so the search engines will only see the first one.

Even if the search engines can see them all, don’t be certain they’ll all be indexed and receive equal consideration. Search engines do compare what’s in the code of a page to what’s actually visible to a visitor, not that they tell us how that all works. That’s why I’d always recommend showing everything side by side, as Atlas Copco does, for example.