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SEO and single page websites

shot-20140817-1515-18v8si8-0One of the hotter trends lately are single-page websites; long scrolling pages that put all of the site’s content on a single page. Many of them employ the “parallax” effect, where the background image moves at a different speed than the main page while you scroll. It’s a neat effect, and it can be useful at times, but comes at a cost of not ranking quite as well in the search engines.

A good example is the Parallax Pro demo from StudioPress. While it’s not technically a single page site, it should give a good idea of what we’re talking about.

What’s the problem?

There are a few reasons that single-page sites are bad for SEO:

  1. Pages count: As a general rule, Google ranks “pages”, not “sites”. For example, Google has indexed roughly 1500 pages from our site, each of which has a chance to rank well for various keywords. With a single page site, you have a fraction of those opportunities.
  2. Use your authority: While individual pages are what show up in Google, sites still have some properties of their own. A big one is “domain authority”; how important Google feels your entire domain name is. If you have solid authority, new content (such as this post) can rank well fairly quickly. With a single page site you may have solid domain authority, but you are essentially wasting that authority which could otherwise be used to help additional pages gain some traction in Google.
  3. Speed: Speed is essential, and a huge page with a lot of content can load more slowly. Google takes this into account.

What can be done.

All of that said, there are some things that can be done to help improve your SEO situation on single-page sites.

  1. Navigation: Provide navigation at the top to each of the sections below.
  2. Multiple H1 tags: While the main “Heading 1” tags should typically only be used once per page, there are cases where Google is ok with multiples. This is one of those times, and it may help.
  3. Use a hybrid approach: Keep your long home page, but offer clicks from each section that lead to more details. This means it’s no longer technically a single-page site, but you can still capture the look-and-feel that you’re after.

So what should I do?

Your course of action really depends on your goals. For almost everyone, I’d advise to avoid the temptation of a single page site. However, if you’re building a microsite to promote a single event or something along those lines, it may be a good solution.

The final answer, when it comes to virtually any question related to building a site, is to determine what would be best for your user and then work hard to meet those needs.

About the Author

Mickey Mellen

Co-Founder and Technical Director

View Mickey's Profile

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