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Are One-Page Websites a Good Idea?

Most websites grow like trees: there is the trunk (the homepage) that extends into several branches (subpages), and those branches veer off into smaller branches and leaves (even more subpages). Climbing these tree-like websites can be difficult, as users must navigate their way through pages and pages of information to get to their chosen destination . . . In more recent years, however, designers have begun creating gorgeous single-page designs that feature innovative transitions and beautiful graphics. Parallax designs are a common example. If a traditional multi-page website is a tree, a modern one-page website is a flower blossom: one large, beautiful, and comprehensive page. By simply scrolling, users can navigate the content of the website. Some websites even “bloom” with new content and graphics as the user scrolls down.

However, despite these websites’ popularity and ease of use, some question the viability of SEO on a one-page site. Are one-page websites a good idea? Or are they simply trendy?

Are One-Page Websites a Good Idea?

Are One-Page Websites a Good Idea?

What does Google think of one-page websites?

How Google responds to single-page websites might influence how you respond to single-page websites. When asked, Matt Cutts (the head of Google’s Webspam team) said this:

“It’s going to depend on what your particular area is, what the topic is, and what kind of layout you come out with. But if it works for you and for users to have that all on one page, for the most part, it should work for Google as well.”

Cutts recommends that you run a test before hinging your SEO game on a single-page website that may or may not work well. If you’re happy with the way the test performs, you can feel confident moving forward with a single-page design.

How would a single-page design affect your authority with search engines when it comes to certain keywords?

When a user types a phrase into a search engine, the site’s algorithm attempts to reply with the most authoratative, trustworthy, and relevant content possible. So when primary keywords arise in queries, your one-page site might rank well due to the high potency of these keywords on a single page. However, when minor keywords are queried, your website may struggle; these keywords’ strength will be diluted by the size of the site. A multi-page site is more likely to rank when it comes to long-tail keywords.

How will a single-page website affect your site’s authority?

Fresh content on new pages is one of the best ways to gather authority, but that’s not possible with a single-page design. In the end, you may struggle to maintain your site’s authority.

How will spiders react to your single-page design?

Many modern single-page websites morph and transition as the user scrolls down. Filled with CSS and JavaScript, these innovative sites can make users feel like they’re on a journey, discovering the depths of the site as they flick their mouse. But will web crawlers be able to go on the ride as well? If you’re using a single-page design, you need to ensure that everyone and every spider can see your full website. Test the content on the bottom of your site to be sure that spiders are crawling it as well.

P.S. And don’t try to serve a static page to spiders whilst giving your true, dynamic website to users. This is known as cloaking (giving different content to people and search engines), and you could be penalized for it.

SEO Tips for Single-Page Designs

As you can see, there are a number of pros and cons that come along with single-page designs. While they’re trendy, convenient, and (sometimes) enthralling, they also make SEO a bit trickier due to issues relating to sustaining fresh content (new pages), ranking for long-tail keywords, and communicating with spiders. Are one-page websites a good idea? Yes, for some projects. Are they better than multi-page designs? No, not necessarily.

If you do wish to use a single-page design, you will need to approach SEO with a few new techniques:

  1. Treat Sections as Subpages. Since you don’t have subpages, design the various sections of content as though they’re subpages. Decide on your keywords, write your headline and copy, create image alt tags, etc.
  2. Throw Down Anchor Links. Divide those sections of content with DIV tags and use them as anchor links (links that direct users to a certain place on the page). This will improve your SEO and help you organize the page. Be sure that the words you use in your anchor links are relevant keywords that will also make sense for users.
  3. Create H1 Headings. Each section of content should have its own H1 tag (only one!). This goes along with the first step, since you’re trying to make each section of content act as a subpage.
  4. Beware of Staleness. Keeping your content fresh is key to great SEO. Some people will recommend that you add a blog or another content page to improve your SEO, but that defeats the purpose of having a single-page site. Instead, try to keep your site fresh by refreshing your content from time to time. Or, if you’re using infinite scrolling, you could continue adding new content that appears when the user scrolls down.

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So are one-page websites a good idea? Yes, of course, but they aren’t for everyone. An engaging, well-designed site with only one page can be a sight to behold. However, we wouldn’t recommend this trendy technique if you already have a multi-page website. In the long-term, you’ll see more SEO success with multiple pages.

Hoping to get a leg up with Google and other search engines? Check out 417 Marketing, an online marketing company based in Springfield, Missouri, that specializes in SEO and web design. Click here to contact us and learn more about what we can do for your company.

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