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The Pros and Cons of Single-Page Websites

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There are websites of all different shapes and sizes out there. When your business is getting ready to take its first steps online – or updating your online presence – there are a number of approaches you can take.

One trend that you often see online is single-page websites, where the entirety of the site’s content is presented on a single, long web page. In lieu of different pages, these “long-scroll” websites are usually separated into distinct sections and are often quite design-driven.

This is opposed to multi-page websites which have different pages about different topics, services, products, blog posts, etc. – sites like this one.However, the single-page vs multi-page debate is about much more than design. Both types of websites have their pros and cons – covering different aspects of user experience, search engine optimisation (SEO), and the customer journey.

Advantages of Single-Page Websites

1. Single-Page Websites Provide a Straightforward Experience

Let’s start with the glaringly obvious – navigating through a single-page website is incredibly simple – you just have to scroll down.

You, as the website owner, have much more control over the journey your customer takes through your website – there’s only one route available! The customer journey is represented in a single, linear place, potentially making your customer’s journey to conversion much simpler. There’s no need for distracting interfaces or menus – just unparalleled focus on your content.

However, this means that the design and copy on the page needs to be totally perfect to keep those scrolling digits going!

2. Single-Page Sites are Often More Mobile-Centric

Even with the most precise mobile tapping skills, there are times where mobile website links take a couple of tries to hit – or indeed to hit the right one. However, single-page websites do away with this issue entirely: there are two ways to interact with your site – up or down (conversion forms notwithstanding).

Though that said, we’ll learn that the relationship between single-page sites and mobile users is a little more complex.

3. Simple Structure Makes Launch and Maintenance Easy

The sheer simplicity of single-page websites can make them incredibly easy to launch and to maintain. There are no tricky menus to get right, no differing page templates to harmonise, and all of your collateral is there in one page. Neither do you have to worry about multiple instances of metadata, page titles, page interlinking, and so on.

4. Single-Page Sites Make a Great Design Canvas

Single-page sites are great for design. Their straightforward structure and navigation provides an excellent opportunity to implement fancy graphical effects like multi-step animations, parallax scrolling, and image transitions. As long as your design decisions are being made with user friendliness and comprehension in mind, the world’s your oyster!

5. One-Page Sites Are Great for Specific Purposes

The linear nature of single-page websites makes them an ideal choice in certain situations. They’re perfect when you need to provide a single, laser-focused journey to conversion that’s aimed at a specific audience, like a landing page.

When a prospect is ready and raring to buy thanks to other sales efforts, a single, sleek page can provide just enough persuasion and focus to get them to convert. Single-pagers are ideal for hyper-specific conversions like event registrations, newsletter sign ups, free trials, lead magnet downloads, and more.

Though as we’ll discuss shortly, actually getting your visitors ready to convert without the benefit of other web content may be a challenge.

Single-page sites are also perfect for interactive data-driven presentations, as well as virtual CVs and portfolios.

Disadvantages of Single-Page Websites

1. Single-Pagers Can Be Bad for SEO

The main, unavoidable drawback of single-page websites is that they’re not very good for SEO .

When you have numerous pages that discuss the various different elements of what your business does, you can optimise each page using the most appropriate keywords for that subject matter. This makes it much easier for Google to understand each page individually and rank them as appropriate in search. Additionally, having a number of different, related keywords in play across your whole site means you’re not putting all of your eggs in one basket SEO-wise.

However, when all of your website’s content is shoehorned into a single page, Google has a much harder time distinguishing different topics from one another. As far as Google’s concerned, all of your different product/service offerings are discussed in a single thematic “melting pot”. You’re watering down the potential SEO power of your different target keywords, preventing specific key phrases, themes, or service from dominating.

2. Single-Page Websites Can Lack Content Variety

Having numerous web pages at your disposal is much more useful for highlighting one-off offers and seasonal content. However, making temporary changes to a single-page site may negatively impact the way Google views your entire website – further sending your single-page SEO efforts into a tailspin.

In terms of both SEO and customer experience, most business websites stand to massively benefit from content marketing  – especially blogging. Content marketing is a great way for you to prove your expertise to your audience, “cast a wider net” in terms of keywords, and to talk about your industry knowledge in a natural, non-salesy way. Those last two are especially important considering Google’s recent BERT update which improved the algorithm’s understanding of natural language.

Another important element of SEO is backlinking – effectively getting other sites to link to pages on your site. When your site contains a wide variety of intentful, useful, and informative pages, there’s lots of different information that others can link to. Yet when all of your content sits on a single page, linking to you may confuse the other site’s visitors – making you less of a user-friendly “linkable” prospect to other websites.

3. One-Pagers Can Be Slow

With one-page websites, you’re placing all of your content and graphics onto a single page. That’s likely to have an impact on a page’s load time. And Google recently found that 53% of mobile website visitors will leave a webpage that doesn’t load within three seconds.

Site speed is also an important search ranking factor – potentially compounding the already uphill battle that single page sites have with SEO.

4. Multiple Pages Provide Flexibility In the User Journey

The prospect of taking your prospects on a very linear, predictable buying journey may appear to give you the most control over the situation. But if your single-pager is too long, offers a poor user experience, or suffers from a jumbled narrative flow, then people are likely going to tune out pretty quickly.

Yet when the entirety of your offering is presented across different pages, your user can click on whatever navigation or link options are most appropriate to them, potentially finding the information they were looking for much more quickly without having to wade through all your site content to find it.

One-page websites don’t provide much opportunity for visitors to explore on their own and take information in at their own pace. Multi-page websites give the visitor more flexibility over where they can go and what they can see. Not only does this let them feel more in control of their digital destiny, but it provides analytical benefits too…

5. Multi-Page Sites Let You Better Gauge Visitor Intent

When your visitors are given the freedom to move around different pages, you can use numerous analytical tools to see where they go and what they do. Are certain pages doing better than others in search? How are people finding, using, and leaving your site? Are people spending longer on certain types of pages?

Information like this can help you further improve your website by streamlining processes and giving visitors more of what they seem to enjoy. This kind of understanding is hard to achieve when your website only has one page. Naturally you’ll still be able to see how people are reaching the site, how many visitors you receive, the tech they’re using, bounce rate, and conversions. But you won’t be able to see what people are doing on your single-page site without sophisticated (and often expensive) heat mapping or click mapping tools.

6. Multi-Page Sites Provide a Much Richer Journey

There are some applications where one-page websites are ideal, yet the majority of buyers will need much more varied information in order to convince them to buy.

Both B2C and B2B buyers are quite discerning nowadays. Buying journeys can be quite long and often require a period of buyer reflection and consideration while they continue to interact with an organisation’s content over time. New prospects need the space and freedom to find out more about you in their own way.

With a single page site, your entire sales journey is condensed into a single document. New prospects may therefore find one-pagers pushy or stifling, though they’re fine for buyers who know about you and are ready to give you their money!

Which kind of website is better – a single page or a multi-page site? The answer isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Click To Tweet

In Conclusion

There are a few particular instances where single-page websites can be very useful – especially where they’re persuading a very narrow, “ready to buy” audience towards a laser-focused action.

Yet when a website needs to serve visitors from all stages in the buying journey, it makes sense to publish multiple interlinked pages.

Websites that represent whole organisations need space to adequately flesh out all aspects of their service offering and expertise. They need to support SEO, appeal to a wide variety of keywords, and ideally publish regular blog content too. This can only be achieved with a multi-page website.

Yell can build you a mobile-friendly, search engine optimised website to suit your business needs and budget. Visit our Websites page to find out more. 

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