Splash pages were once the rage. Web designers would create an eye-catching visual, a “splash”, to set the stage for the website (and show off their design skills). While no longer the trend, they still exist.
What is a splash page?
A splash page is a web page that is an introductory page (also known as a pre-home page). Splash pages typically either display a large graphic or a Flash animation. You need to click this page to “enter” the site or you are redirected after a Flash demo is completed.
In general, both site visitors and search engines do not like splash pages. Their reasons however differ.
From a site visitor’s perspective:
1. Site access delay
Web visitors are impatient. A splash page slows down the process of finding what they are searching for (an additional click). From a usability perspective, anything that hinders easy access to your website is generally a bad idea.
2. Software issues
Flash splash pages require special software in order to view. If the plug-in is not installed in your web browser, it can affect how the page downloads – and in some cases access to the website. Again, why use a strategy that can frustrate your web audience?
3. Negative impact on site traffic
Some recent studies show that the splash page exit rate can be as high as 71%. When site visitors leave before actually entering the website, this can also have a huge impact on your website traffic.
From a search engine’s perspective:
1. Hiding from spiders
Often splash pages turn away spiders just like their site visitors. Without direct access to the URL structure search engines find it difficult to crawl and index a site. Lack of a proper linking structure to internal web pages (usually only one link that goes to one page) hinders these pages from getting indexed. This will of course hurt your potential search engine ranking.
2. Keywords issues
Home page has content – splash pages do not. Typically, their only visible body text is “enter”, “skip intro” and the footer information. Since appearing in a search engine results page (SERP) depends on keywords that web searches types into a query box, the words would need to be “skip intro” to show up – and of course the search results would be high, buried and completely irrelevant.
3. Negative impact search engine ranking
When spiders do not have links to crawl, there is no text to index, then search engines cannot provide you with value. Like the web visitors, their bail out rate will be high.
Caution: Splash pages can hinder sites from getting found on the web, reduce search engine visibility, cause user frustration – and decrease website performance. Why use them?