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Plan is to have a video splash-page to showcase a product so that when the homepage loads it only shows the video and once the video has completed the content appears. The video would only play the first time a user visits the site.

Is there a technique to use so that Search Engines are still able to read the content? Don't want this to impact the SEO.

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    nobody likes splashscreens – JamesRyan Nov 6 '14 at 12:28
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    This might not affect you SEO-wise, this will affect you visitor-wise. I leave the second I notice background movie/sound. And there are many like me ;) – Martijn Nov 6 '14 at 14:01
  • @xylar: is it for ads or for a video to promote your site? – Zistoloen Nov 6 '14 at 14:30
  • Yes it's an advert for a product and would be used to demonstrate how it works. – xylar Nov 6 '14 at 15:56
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    What if I already know about your product? You're going to make me watch the video again when I was just about ready to buy? That's a good way to drive potential customers away. – Michael Hampton Nov 6 '14 at 19:42
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nobody likes splashscreens, I strongly advise you make any video a choice, even autoplay is annoying.

  • It is not accessible
  • There is no (reliable) way to make it only show once
  • It will increase the bounce rate even for people who haven't seen it before
  • On slow machines your site may be unusable

  • and yes slow pages are ranked lower. (this will be a problem even if the content in the video is replicated on the site)

Also you question suggests that there is content in the video that wouldn't be also included in the site. If that is the case that would dramatically harm SEO as content exclusively in the video would not be indexed at all.

  • This is a myth: slower sites are penalised. Very slow sites will appear lower in the SERPs, but you would have to be a very very slow site. It is not a penalty, just a metric that effects performance. – closetnoc Nov 6 '14 at 15:26
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    Google does apply a ranking penalty if a site loads so slowly that it is not usable after 10 seconds (or so) of loading. Playing a video would not trigger this penalty unless the video took longer than 10 seconds to start playing. If users left the site because of being forced to watch the video and returned to the Google search results because of it, that will also make rankings worse. – Stephen Ostermiller Nov 6 '14 at 16:40
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    -1 "Nobody likes splash screens" it's a broad generalization. Splash screens are used because they work. Sometimes a splash screen is necessary, for example, if you have an adult website more than likely you will need a splash screen and users don't really hate them. – ILikeTacos Nov 6 '14 at 18:22
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    @AlanChavez Adult websites are a pretty unique case and it's not even true anymore - they found out the "if you're a cop or under 18 you can't come in!" thing didn't do anything useful legally. – ceejayoz Nov 6 '14 at 18:53
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    "'Nobody likes splash screens' is a broad generalization." And it's also an accurate one. "Splash screens are used because they work." Splash screens are not used by most credible websites because they're really annoying. – reirab Nov 7 '14 at 17:22
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A video in-of-itself is not a bad thing.

However, the notion of hijacking the user experience by auto-starting the video and restricting access to the content is a bad thing. It is extremely bad.

Listen, these days UX (user experience) is everything. Smart SEOs understand that bounce rates, time on site, number of pages read, time on page, are all metrics directly tied to the user experience. Do not mess it up.

Okay. Have the video. But DO NOT auto-start the video! And do not restrict users from your content.

Here is another secret. There are two kinds of people searching on the web: the short attention span entertain me now video viewers, twitter followers, texters; and the ones who want information that can be digested. People who are researching on the web will want to read and digest your content, not watch a video, though they may do that as well. The point is, anyone who is researching will gather information in the most efficient manner and that is reading, skimming, browsing, cut and paste for comparison or note taking, and so on. You cannot do these things with videos. I realize that videos were/may still be all the rage. When YouTube became popular and huge, everybody and their grandmother went out and made a video. Fine. But when companies did this, they found that videos did not always suffice and that good ol' fashion content was better. Videos help and are okay. But they are not a replacement for what most people really want to do- that is digest information.

  • A billion times this. – Kroltan Nov 7 '14 at 11:28
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The video would only play the first time a user visits the site.

This is impossible to determine, deleted cookies, other PC, phone and "would play" means starts automatically? That's a no-go.

When researching I preopen a lot of tabs and those that start some video get kicked out immediately. It is my decission when I want to watch it.

You can offer the video area and below two buttons (Play video) and (Skip video), or make the content start right below it with a responsive design.

SEO measures how much content (real content!) you have and how good it is. The video is no part of this calculation and even with a high SEO rank you might still lose a lot of visitors just because you annoy them.

  • +1 for "When researching I preopen a lot of tabs and those that start some video get kicked out immediately." – reirab Nov 7 '14 at 17:18
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Why don't you just put the video in a <div> which floats on top of the content. You can always dim the rest of the page while the video plays. The search engine will still read all the content on the page and just see that there is a <div> which floats on top.

  • First, search engines are able to determine if the content is obscured (rendering the page on "headless" full browsers), and nowadays actually do so and automatially ignore or even penalize that content. Second, actions like this are a valid reason for google and others to de-list your site from search completely - the advice you're giving (showing content to search engine that is inaccessible to users) is a prime example of black-hat 'cheating' SEO, which all the search engine operators want to eliminate. – Peteris Nov 7 '14 at 20:18
  • I think you have misunderstood me. The <div> would act like a popup. I see may sites do this when they ask you to sign up to their newsletter. So the user would visit the site, the video would pop up in a div, the user would watch the video then could close the <div> and interact with the site from there. – krz Nov 10 '14 at 6:05
  • This site does what I was referring to: takealot.com/savealot-daily-deals – krz Nov 10 '14 at 8:43
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No. There is no way for search engines to read the content of a video. As far as SEO goes, search engines will see this: <video></video> or similar.

SEO will not be helped by using a video splash screen.

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    +1, while this isnt the best answer, not worth a downvote, specially one without argument. – Martijn Nov 6 '14 at 15:13
  • Search engines DO understand video tags! Also search engines rate page loading speed! Videos won't help much there! – Josef says Reinstate Monica Nov 7 '14 at 12:58
  • @Josef Of course they can and I said that. I said it was the content they can't read. – Rob Nov 7 '14 at 13:52

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