These days everyone has got their knickers all twisty about single page websites.
If you’re not sure what I mean Single Page Websites (SPWs) are basically long, scrolling websites where all the content is contained on a single page. The navigation links at the top essentially work as anchor links, jumping you down to the relevant section rather than taking you to a new page.
There are some gorgeous SPW out there that use lovely transitions to separate the various sections. A more fancy pants term for the effect is the parallax scrolling effect. Essentially it’s achieved by moving different background images with different speed and creates a wonderful feeling of fluidity and movement.
Yes I’ll admit they look super cool and funky. They’re also work really well for responsive design, which obviously is a plus if a fair proportion of your traffic comes via mobile devices:
Here are a few of my favourite scrolly website WordPress themes:
BUT (and it’s a big but) single page websites are terrible for Search Engine Optimisation.
You see with a SPW you’re putting all your SEO eggs in a one page basket.
You only giving yourself one bite of the SEO pie.
Or to put it simply, a single page limits the opportunities for standard website optimisation and here’s why:
1) Only one keyword phrase: Today it’s commonly believed by SEO types that you can only successfully optimise any given website page for one keyword phrase. So having single page site, means you can only target single keyword phrase. Which is a bit pants right?
2) Only one set of Meta Data: As with above you only get one set of meta data on a single page website. You’ve got only one vital title tag and only one salesy meta description to hook your clients and lure them to your site, so it better be awesome
3) Page weight: Obviously the more content you squeeze into yoru one page design (images, text, videos) could result in a super chubby page. Google hates heavy pages as they take too long to load. Will your customers wait despite the weight or go else where?
5) Few external links: It’s unlikely that you’re going to cram a heap of external links into your one page site as you don’t want to take the focus away from your business. Google loathes silo sites so again a lack of external links is bad for SEO.
So who would choose a single page website?
Well if that majority of your business comes via word of mouth referral then a one page website might work for you. It can essentially work as a glorified online business card that sums up your sexy bits and gives people a way to get in touch.
You can then drive traffic to it via Social Media sites like LinkedIn.
What’s the solution?
One way to improve your SEO chances with a SPW is to have a comprehensive blog in a separate section. This way all your blog posts will be counted as individual pages and can be optimised accordingly.
Another is to keep your parallax design for your home page but create separate pages for additional content – although this can confuse users.
Another more fiddly option is to turn your HTML home page into a PHP file and load content from external files. But that’s far too dull to explain so go here if you’re interesting in learning how to do that.
Oh and there’s another article here about how to create a parallax scrolling website that’s SEO friendly. It’s a bit ‘yawn’ so drink a coffee before you dive in.
—April 2014 update: Since writing this more work has been done on ways of making Single Page websites SEO friendly, here’s a good resource:
In summary think carefully about whether a Single Page Website is right for your business model. Don’t be sucked in by how good they look, but instead weigh up the pros and cons.
Want to have a chat?
If you need a Copywriter, SEO Consultant or Information Architect, then please call me for a chat and an obligation free quote. I'm in Sydney Australia on +61 (0) 418 166 458 or contact me.