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by Tom Howlett on 26th October 2011
In this post I will discuss what to avoid and some best practises if you are thinking of implementing a Splash Page on your website.
What are Splash Pages?
A Splash Page is an initial page a user lands on prior to reaching the main Home Page for the website. Typically this will include a visually impressive intro or animation leading up to the main content. Occasionally Splash Pages are used to offer the user a few options on how they would prefer to view the main content of the website (such as viewing the HTML or Flash versions of a website).
Why they are bad for SEO
The Home Page of a website generally is the most important page of the website; it will typically gather more links than the rest of the website and become the most authoritative page on the site. This allows you to build an effective link structure to pass on link juice to other pages. When a Splash Page is involved, it almost replaces the Home Page and all external links to the website will point to this page which has little or no text and isn’t particularly targeted to the main keyword terms.
When the search engine bots visit your website, they will also see this page served up first. If there is a delay before the bots are able to proceed to the rest of the site they could abandon the crawling process. Bots do not like to be kept waiting! So it is best to prevent this happening.
Splash Pages can also put off visitors to your website. People are naturally impatient and don’t like waiting for content to be delivered to them. Visitors might then move on to find something else which will have a negative effect on your website’s Bounce Rate which some people believe to be a ranking factor.
They may not be bad for all websites
Sometimes Splash Pages may not be bad for your website. Generally this rule only applies to sites that don’t depend on keyword targeting to get found by people who haven’t previously heard about them.
Examples of these types of sites include popular brand websites like Coca Cola, Nike, and BMW etc. Other examples could include theme parks and websites for certain movies that are generally well known and Splash Pages can be used to engage and interact with their audience.
For most websites, ones that aim to capture an audience that were previously unaware of their existence, Splash Pages are unlikely to be the better option.
Alternatives to Splash Pages
There are various reasons a website may use Splash Pages, here are some alternatives:
Some websites may offer different versions of the site to people using different devices. Nowadays the technology is available to automatically detect the device a visitor is using to view the website and serve the appropriate version of the site for that device (whether that is on a desktop, a mobile or a tablet).
If your site is not dependent on targeting keywords to gain relevant and new visitors/customers (typically if you don’t need SEO) then Splash Pages can be used. Otherwise it is always best to avoid the use of a Splash Page and utilise other methods of promotion such as advertising on your Home page and sending visitors to a page or Micro site related to that promotion. Purposely delaying visitors before they get to the main site is never a good idea, but it is relatively easy to capture their attention when they are on the site with well placed call to actions.