What is a Single Page Website?
A Single Page website (aka One Page website) consists of only a single HTML or dynamically generated page, and navigating to different sections of the site — which would normally take a user to a new page — just scrolls down the one page to that particular content’s section. The effect is pretty cool, sort of like being on an elevator and whizzing past the other site sections to arrive at your destination.
When is it Appropriate to have a Single Page Website?
For websites that are tightly focused on a single topic and don’t have a ton of content, a Single Page website can work nicely. For example, Mari Smith’s The New Relationship Marketing page, which we developed in 2011, is ONLY about her book, and the Single Page approach seemed appropriate in that case.
A Single Page site would be appropriate as the landing page for a PPC / Adwords ad, since these landing pages should have a single-topic focus and be optimized for just that one topic, the subject of your ad.
However, if your website doesn’t fit the above profile, then a Single Page may not be such a good idea, particularly if being found in searches is important to your business. Why? On-page SEO.
Why Single Page Websites Compromise your On-page SEO
“On-page” SEO is the Search Engine Optimization best practices you apply to the individual pages on your website — descriptive and keyword-rich title and meta tags, header tags, linking to other pages on your site using keyword-rich anchor text, and having your content organized in a strong semantic and informational hierarchy.
It is in this regard that the Single Site website fails (unless it fits the profile above).
SEO is a Page-by-Page Competition for Ranking
SEO is a page-by-page competition for ranking and when developing your website architecture (the structure of the directories and individual pages), it’s best practice to limit each page to a single topic, so that each page can be optimized for its unique subject matter.
For example, if your site is for a plastic surgeon, that surgeon may offer a number of specialty areas:
- Face and Neck Lift
- Cosmetic Eyelid Surgery
- Nasal Surgery (Rhinoplasty)
- Abdominal Lipectomy (Tummy Tuck)
- Breast Augmentation
Each of the above practice areas should have its own page, so that each page (whether static or generated with dynamic server-side code) can be optimized for its particular subject, according to the SEO best practices mentioned above.
With Single Page Websites You Have Only a Single Title Tag and Meta Description Tag
These two tags are probably the single most important on-page SEO elements, conveying to the search engines the EXACT topic of each page. They are also displayed on a SERP (Search Engine Results Page) when one of your pages is listed:
The title tag content for the above page is the first, bolded blue text. The meta description tag is the text below the green URL of the page. Notice that they’re optimized for a very specific top, i.e., brow-life surgery.
You get only 60-63 characters for the title tag content and 155 characters for the meta “description” tag, so if you want your site optimized for more than one topic, you simply won’t have the room to leverage these most important on-page SEO elements.
A Single Page Website Means Only One Page in Google’s or Bing’s Index
Search engines will index all the pages of your website, providing multiple opportunities for your site to come up in searches. When your site consists of only one page, a single page is exactly what you’ll have indexed.
Conclusion: Be Cool, but Be Careful!
Personally, I really love many of the Single Page websites I’ve seen. It’s a visually appealing effect and if your site fits the appropriate Single Page profile, it’s a fine way to go.
But if your site has numerous topics and sub-topics, then I think it best to skip this approach and go the convention route of individual pages.
I welcome your thoughts about this subject in the comments!