Are you thinking about building a new website, leaning towards a single-page scrolling (aka parallax) website and wondering to yourself, are single-page websites bad for SEO? Well, I’m here to tell you the answer is yes and there are plenty of reasons why! In this article, we will provide insight into what a single-page website is and highlight the top 3 reasons why they are bad for your website’s SEO.

What is A Single-Page Scrolling Website?

There may be some of you who are just getting started doing research and are wondering what a single-page website even is, let alone why it is bad for your SEO. To put it simply, a single-page website is exactly what it sounds like, a website with only one page. Instead of the site being split into multiple pages with a menu taking users to a distinct website sections and URLs, single-page websites have all their content on one page with sections stacked on top of each other and a long scroll. The menu will simply scroll up or down to the desired section, rather than linking to another page.

If the website is built to HTML5 standards, each section of the site will be built using a separate <section></section> tag with a unique ID and the menu for the website will simply link to those unique IDs, to allow a user to jump up or down the page to the specific section they are looking for.

Before we dive into why single-page websites are bad for SEO, I want to clarify I am not saying there are no circumstances when single-page websites make the most sense. There are scenarios when single-page websites are a great choice. It is all about figuring out your goals and deciding if using a single-page website over a multi-page website is appropriate to achieve those goals. If you want more information on this, head over to this great article from A2 Hosting to read all about one page websites and when to use them. Also, be sure to keep a lookout for a future blog from us about all the scenarios when a single-page website is a good idea!

Read more to learn about the top 3 disadvantages of single-page websites.

1. You Can Really Only Optimize for One Keyword or Phrase

As a general rule, each page on a website should have a primary keyword focus and only contain one meta title, one meta description and one H1. Google has indicated it’s ok to have more than a single H1 tag, but you will want to be careful and ensure you are not sending mixed messages about what the primary focus of the page is. Consider using H2 or H3 tags on secondary sub-headings, where appropriate.

Usually a website has more than one product or service and each of those serves a different purpose and is marketed to a different customer/audience. Now imagine having to sell all of those products using only one marketing phrase. Sounds impossible, right? This is basically what you are doing if you are building a single-page website. If you have to try and market all of your products and services with only being able to rank for one keyword or phrase, it’s going to be extremely difficult. Each customer will search for your products or services using different search queries and you’ll want to try to be found on the SERPs for all of them, but with a single-page website this just isn’t possible.

You are shooting yourself in the foot in terms of your SEO abilities right out of the gate. If you were to split up each section of content (products, services, blogs, etc.) you would be able to optimize the content on each page to match the search terms your customers will be using.

2. Your Page Speed (Especially on Mobile) May Suffer

According to research done by Google, 40% of consumers will leave a page which takes longer than three seconds to load. So making sure your site loads quickly is very important. Single page websites usually have features such as image sliders, content sliders and/or accordions, contact forms, videos and transition animations like parallax scrolling in order to have a powerful and engaging user experience.

The problem with trying to do all of this on one page is you now have to load all of the content, images, videos and the CSS and Javascript required for every user, every time. All of those files result in far too many server requests and a large file size for the website. This results in the page being slower to load and this can negatively impact your rankings.

Many users are going to be coming to your site for one small piece of information and do not necessarily need to load everything. However, with a single page they will be forced to do so even if they won’t see the majority of it.

Single-page websites can be an even larger problem on mobile, as people are running on data connections with slower speeds. According to research from Google, a longer loading time is linked to a higher bounce rate, with an increase of 123% when page load time goes from 1s to 10s. Many website themes and plugins use Javascript and CSS files, which have not been optimized for mobile, so the majority of the code won’t even be used for the mobile version of the site, causing unnecessary code to be downloaded, which again increases page load time.

3. It’s Tough To Expand On Your Content

Each user is looking for different levels of content detail. Some want a brief overview and some want a full page with every detail about the product or service they are researching. Single-page websites offer more than one product or service will have a difficult time including enough information in an easy to read way.

A typical website will usually have a list of each product or service with a brief description, followed by a button to take the user to a page with more information. When creating a single-page website however, where do you put that detailed information? Do you use a modal, a slider or an accordion? All of these options can have a negative impact on user experience (especially for accessibility purposes), as well as adding more complexity for the user to simply find the content they are looking for. Your users will lose the ability to quickly compare your products or services, as they will be forced to open and close modals, slide back and forth on sliders, expand and collapse accordions. Instead of simply being able to open up a page or two for the products they are wanting to research and compare, they are forced to navigate the maze of your single-page website to find the content they are after.

Single-Page Website Alternatives

As I hope you’ve discovered from this article, a single-page website is definitely not the way to go if you are looking to build a site with more than one product or service.

Being able to optimize for a unique keyword or phrase for each page enables you to speak to your unique customers. You will also be able to provide more detailed content and enable your users to have a more user friendly experience navigating all of your content. Finally, by splitting up your site, you will allow for smaller pages sizes with less external calls to JS and CSS files, as well as less images per page. This will result in a site which is a lot faster for your users and hence, more attractive to search engine spiders.

When you are ready and decide to jump in and build your new website, make sure you really think about its purpose and if a single-page website is really the best choice.

Have more questions? Mintent’s Digital Services team can help provide answers on SEO, website design and development best practices or a variety of other digital marketing topics.

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