If you’ve ever read a comic book, you’ve seen a splash page: a full-page drawing, usually at the beginning of a story, which contains the title and credits. In the comic book world, this is all you need to understand what the story is about and get an idea of the issue.
However, when it comes to SEO, a splash page can be detrimental to an online business. A splash page on a website is normally a single page with one large image that conveys the brand or the website you’re about to enter, with a button you can click to get to the content on the site.
To better understand why splash pages are bad for SEO, picture your favorite book, something you can read over and over and never get bored. Now picture that book encased in glass, preventing you from reading it until you figure out how to get around the glass. You’d probably give up after a couple minutes, right?
This same concept is true with search engines and splash pages. Search engines want to access your website so they can read and understand it, but if you put a barrier in their way, they won’t be happy. Although splash pages may look great, they have serious implications for both search engines and users.
Search engines know that your homepage is the most important page of your website. Most of your links probably point to this page, including social media profiles, offsite product reviews and local listings, if you have a brick & mortar.
However, search engines don’t behave the way humans do. If you have a splash page, search engines will consider it as your homepage. And all those valuable keywords you’re targeting, the beautiful content you wrote to help site visitors, the gorgeous site navigation and more will be replaced by an image that search engines are unable to read.
This can confuse the search engines, affecting how your site is analyzed and indexed. Not to mention the risk of losing all your SEO efforts in one fell swoop.
Search engines consider user experience to be a huge factor in a site’s authority, so this section counts for those bots as well as everyday visitors.
A principle idea behind encouraging specific user actions is to remove as many obstacles as possible. For example, to create a safe pedestrian path across a busy intersection, you’ll need traffic lights to stop oncoming cars.
This same concept is true for helping visitors convert on your website. You want customers to easily find your products with the least amount of clicks, and a splash page is only going to create frustration and additional pages to navigate through.
One statistic the Volusion SEO team looks at is a site’s bounce rate. A “bounce” refers to a visitor who enters a site and immediately “bounces” off or leaves the site (whether they hit the back button or close the window entirely). If your site has a large image on a splash page, it might take precious time to load, which will lead a customer to become impatient and leave the site, causing your bounce rate to skyrocket.
But What If I Need a Splash Page?
There are a few instances where merchants may think a splash page is necessary for their site, but we want to stress that you can easily get around this without losing your SEO mojo. One example is sites with content that cannot be accessed by minors, such as e-cigarettes. Depending on your industry, you might even be required by law to prevent access to your site unless you’ve asked that question.
But you don’t have to use splash pages! A pop-up window will do the trick, and search engines will still be able to read everything on your home page. Our Volusion design team even offers a service to add this to your store so you can keep all your SEO juices flowing.
This same concept applies for promotions. Instead of using a splash page, that will harm your SEO efforts, use a pop-up or create a new slide for your slideshow. Both of these options will make more sense to search engines and keep your home page at the top spot.
In the SEO world, there are few things that are cut-and-dry. However, when it comes to the question of splash pages, any SEO expert will agree that they are not worth the headache they will cause you or your customers. Leave them to the comic book artists.