Are Single Page Websites Bad for SEO?

Are Single Page Websites Bad for SEO?

Like most things related to SEO, there’s not a simple answer. It really depends on what type of website you have and a variety of additional factors. When making a decision about a single page website versus a multi-page, there’s a few things to consider:

URL Structure and Ranking Factors
Generally when single page websites are utilized, they employ the following URL structure:

  • website.com
  • website.com#buy-phones
  • website.com#about-phones
  • website.com#footer

In this instance, search engines will index the homepage, but not the other three URLs. As a result, that content will not individually show up on search engine result pages. So if you have a lot of content there’s ultimately a better opportunity for four pages to rank for specific content and keywords, rather than one page attempting to rank for a wide variety of keywords.

Now if you are only trying to rank for one or two keywords, or have a user take a limited amount of actions, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a single page website.

Think of it like a business: if you only have a few responsibilities, you only need one or two employees. If you have several, diverse responsibilities that require specific skill sets, it’s better to hire skilled employees for each position.

From the Experts
Most leaders in the SEO industry discourage the use of single-page websites:

Search Engine Land: “Single page websites can be great for new sites and special projects. I don’t recommend them as long-term solutions and, if you have a multi-page website, I do not recommend switching to a single-page site.”

Moz“Most parallax scrolling websites are not SEO friendly”

SEM Rush“Can you imagine a car without a steering wheel or a stereo without speakers? That’s what many parallax and infinite scrolling websites are like when they are designed without Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in mind. They are incomplete.”

Search Engines Seek Relevancy
Search engine algorithms are driven by relevancy, and associate queries with content. While a single page site could increase relevancy for a few primary keywords, it’s more likely that approach will cause keyword cannibalism – or dilute relevancy for keywords that would rank higher if they had their own pages.

Technical Limitations
It’s extremely difficult for search engines to crawl pages with transitions that load new content as users scroll down, as most search crawlers have limited support for executing JavaScript or AJAX.

UX Considerations
The Journal of Usability Studies published a peer-reviewed study on parallax websites and found “With respect to perceived usability, enjoyment, satisfaction, and visual appeal, there were no differences between the PS website and the no-PS website.” Or as UXmatters.com puts it single page sites, especially those that employ parallax scroll effects are, “just a flashy gimmick from a user experience perspective. Its primary usefulness is to show off how cools a designer is.”

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