Over the past few years, we’ve seen more companies opting to use a single-page website to market their business online. This is a contentious subject in the world of digital marketing. Some argue the simplicity of a one-page website can make your business more appealing, while others argue the disadvantages outweigh the appeal of simplicity.
But what’s the truth?
In this in-depth guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about a single-page website. We’ll share the benefits with you, as well as any potential costs, to help you make a decision about your own website.
What Is a Single Page Website?
A single-page website, or a one-page website as they’re also known, is exactly what the name suggests.
It’s a website that contains all its content within one page — the home page. It doesn’t contain any additional pages, like an about page, a contact page or a blog.
This type of design prioritizes user experience. The goal with a one-page site is to provide information in a concise way, with no distractions or clutter to detract from the main marketing message.
When Is a One Page Website a Good Idea?
Opinions on one-page websites vary considerably. Some people believe they are the preferable choice for a wide range of applications, whereas others argue they should only be used in very specific circumstances.
We will discuss the reasons for this later in the article. But, to begin with, here are some uses of single page websites that most marketing professionals can agree on:
1. Landing Pages
A landing page is a simple one-page website designed to deliver a specific outcome.
For example, a business may create a landing page with the goal of acquiring more subscribers for its mailing list. To do this, it’s likely they will create a lead magnet, which they will offer to subscribers in exchange for their email address.
The entire page will be set up to guide the reader through a logical process, which ends with a conversion. In other words, the user will reach the end of the page and reach the conclusion they would like to download the lead magnet, entering their email address to do so.
A single-page website works well in this instance. The business can link directly to the landing page from their advertising campaigns. As there are no other distractions on the website, the marketing team can be confident the visitor will follow the intended process prior to signing up.
2. Sales Pages for Single Products
For an e-commerce website with multiple products to sell, a single-page website doesn’t make much sense.
But they can be an incredibly useful sales tool for single products.
As with landing pages for lead generation, this helps keep your website visitors on the intended path.
One-page websites are especially effective when you want to run advertising campaigns for specific products.
To do this, you need to create a one-page website dedicated to that product — and treat it as you would any other landing page.
This technique isn’t foolproof, however.
As there’s nowhere else for your website visitor to go, it’s essential you invest some time in getting it right. The design must be user-friendly. And the copy needs to be compelling enough to lead the potential customer all the way to the point of sale.
If the user gets bored, and there’s nothing else for them to click on, their only option is to leave the website.
That said, one-page sales websites for single products can be extremely effective.
Finally, you should consider a single-page website if you’re going to be launching a product — such as an application.
In this situation, it’s likely you have many simultaneous marketing campaigns to capture the attention of your target audience.
Press releases, Google Adwords and social media campaigns can all link to the same website — ensuring all your marketing and PR efforts get directed to the right place.
The simple one-page design can see you through all phases of the launch.
Initially, you can use the website to generate interest. This may be similar to the landing page — and might include a countdown to the launch as well as an option for consumers to sign up for more information.
When the product launches, it can transform into a single-page sales website.
What Do These Websites Have in Common?
It’s important to note that, while these websites all have distinct purposes, they do have something in common:
Each type of website supports one very specific goal.
It could be to generate leads or to make a sale — but the goal is very clear. The website has been designed to take the customer from point A to point B.
For this reason, many businesses use them in addition to their multi-page websites. This provides them with the opportunity to benefit from the single-page website — without some of the drawbacks.
But what are these drawbacks — and when should you avoid one-page websites for your business?
Why Is a Single Page Website Often a Bad Idea?
There are many reasons why a single-page website might not be the right choice for your business. Here are five of them:
A. They Lack Flexibility
The simplicity of a one-page website is, in many ways, its main benefit.
But it can also be one of its biggest disadvantages, too.
Most organizations need a website with a degree of flexibility. This is especially true when you consider the lifespan of your business. A single-page design can seem like a good idea in the early days when you want to get a site up and running quickly.
To start with, you may have a simple message you want to convey, making a one-page website a good call. But here’s the truth — single page websites are rarely scalable.
This means you’re likely to need a multi-page website further down the line. As single-page websites still involve a significant cost to get off the ground, this could end up being a very expensive mistake.
For this reason, you should consider the future needs of your business before you make a decision.
B. Fewer Opportunities for Customers to Engage
Customer engagement is one of the key benefits marketers regularly mention when it comes to one-page websites.
And, to some extent, this is true.
A well-crafted story can be highly engaging — especially when it takes the user through a logical sequence.
But this doesn’t always happen in reality.
And what happens when the website visitor loses interest? On a one-page website, they have nowhere else to go.
No blogs to read.
No pages to learn more about the team behind the organization.
So the only thing left to do is leave the website. This is why single-page websites tend to have a higher bounce rate than websites with multiple pages. This has other implications for your business, which we will discuss later in the article.
C. They Don’t Support Multiple Marketing Goals
What do you want to achieve with your website?
Do you have one goal or many?
Most businesses have a few things they want to achieve with their website. These may include:
- Lead generation
- Providing customer support
- Establishing the business as an industry authority
- Nurturing the relationship with existing customers
- Providing contact details
- Building brand identity
This list isn’t exhaustive and will vary between businesses.
But, if you have a single-page website, it’s only feasible to pursue a couple of these goals, at the most. In an ideal world, one-page designs will only have one goal.
D. They Make It Hard for You to Analyze Success
Analyzing the performance of your website is key to driving results.
This isn’t always easy with a one-page website.
As your website visitors only have one page to interact with, you’re limited in the type of information you have access to.
For example, with a multi-page website, you will be able to analyze trends in user behavior.
You can tell which are the most popular pages by analyzing which have the highest click-through-rates and lowest bounce rates.
You can find out which are the least popular pages, driving customers away from your website.
You can analyze how long people spend on each page and the likely paths they take through your website.
All this information is valuable. It helps you tweak your website — and any associated marketing campaigns — to drive the best possible results for your organization.
This is all much harder with a one-page website.
E. They Can Be Harmful to SEO
Are you hoping potential customers will find you organically using search engines, like Google?
If so, you may wish to reconsider the use of a single-page website.
With almost 70,000 searches performed on Google every second, this isn’t a drawback we recommend you ignore.
How Do One Page Websites Affect Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
The impact single page websites have on your ability to rank is so significant, it deserves a closer look.
Here are nine ways a one-page website can damage your SEO efforts:
1. Lack of Content
The most obvious reason a single-page design disrupts SEO is the lack of content. Many of the issues stem from this — but it’s a disadvantage in its own right.
Each page your website has is another opportunity to rank.
Search engines, like Google, use bots to crawl your website and index each page they find.
When you have a single-page website, you only have one chance to get onto that all-important first page of Google.
And it’s unlikely it will.
Content that ranks best tends to be informative — whereas a one-page website will tend to focus on either generating leads or generating sales.
This makes it even harder for you to rank.
2. Limited Keyword Targeting
Choosing the right keywords is still one of the most important aspects of SEO.
For the best results, your website should target multiple keywords related to your business. But, in order to do this, you need multiple pages.
Realistically — with a single page design — you won’t be able to target more than one or two keywords.
3. Fewer On-Page Ranking Opportunities
We’ve already discussed how fewer pages mean fewer opportunities to rank. This also has a knock-on effect when it comes to on-page SEO.
On-page SEO relates to each of the variables you can manipulate on your webpages to increase rankings.
For example, each page has its own title tag and meta descriptions. These are used by search engines to help determine what each page is about and boost your rankings for the chosen keywords.
When you have fewer pages, you have fewer titles and meta descriptions.
4. No Real Website Structure
Internal linking is another on-page factor you’ll miss out on with a one-page design. If you don’t have any other pages on your website, you simply can’t use internal links at all.
This feeds into the wider issue of website structure.
Website structure influences SEO in a number of ways. It helps the search engines learn more about your website, which contributes to their ability to index your website correctly.
They use your internal links to determine which are the most important pages on your website, ensuring they appear higher in the rankings.
Many businesses achieve this using a blog. The blog gets broken down into distinct categories, enabling the business to cover a variety of topics in depth.
For example, each category can have a key post — also known as cornerstone content — that many other posts within the category link to. This internal linking lets Google know your cornerstone content is valuable, increasing the likelihood you will rank well for it.
When you only have one page, it’s not possible to do this. You don’t have categories or blog posts.
5. Longer Page Load Times
Single page websites tend to have longer load times.
This makes sense.
When you have a website with just one page, it’s likely you will have more content to display than you would on each page of a multi-page website.
The designs can be more elaborate too, which increases loading times further.
The impact this has on SEO shouldn’t be underestimated.
The ideal page load speed is three seconds or less. This is important to Google because it’s important for search results to provide a good user experience to people who use the service.
If people are waiting a long time for your page to load, it’s unlikely they will wait. In fact, just a 100-millisecond delay can see conversions drop by 7%.
So if you do decide to go for a one-page design, make page load speed a priority.
6. Higher Bounce Rate
We’ve already mentioned how single-page websites tend to have a higher bounce rate than their multi-page alternatives.
Again, this makes sense. If there’s nowhere for users to go, it seems obvious the bounce rate will be significantly higher.
But this is a problem if you aim to prioritize SEO.
Although Google hasn’t explicitly declared bounce rate as a ranking factor, lower bounce rates are consistently linked to higher positions in the search engine results.
So, while its role in determining rankings isn’t clear, it seems like the bounce rate is important to some extent.
In other words, a high bounce rate is indicative of other problems that definitely do impact SEO. This means it can affect SEO indirectly and should be considered when deciding upon the structure of your website.
7. Less Fresh Content
One of the best things about a multi-page website, from an SEO perspective, is the ability to blog.
This isn’t an option with a one-page website as it requires many pages — a separate one for each blog, as well as the main “blog” page itself.
As well as reducing the amount of content on your website significantly, the lack of a blog affects your search engine rankings in another way:
It reduces the amount of fresh content on your website.
Search engines, like Google, want to provide their users with the most up-to-date content the Internet has to offer.
Providing out-dated content would reduce the user experience considerably, increasing the likelihood they would turn to other search engines in the future.
For this reason, fresh (or new) content is often given preferential treatment when it comes to the rankings.
Although it’s not impossible to generate fresh content on a single page website, it is highly challenging — and may involve a whole website upheaval.
How do you plan to keep your content fresh without a blog?
8. Hard to Build External Links
Link building is one of the most challenging aspects of SEO — even for traditional, multi-page websites.
But it is essential.
This is something Google works hard to keep ethical. In the past, the use of blackhat techniques (like purchasing links) could see your website shoot up to the top of the rankings.
Today, this isn’t the case.
You must build links with high-quality websites relevant to your niche — and do so in a way that works with Google’s rules, not against them.
When it’s done right, it can still accelerate your position in the search engine results page (SERP). But this isn’t easy to do with a one-page design.
Again, this all comes down to the blog.
When you create high-quality blog content, you’re providing a resource for other people to link to. People don’t just link to any webpage. They need a reason.
If you do decide to go for a single page design, one question to ask is this:
What incentive is there for other websites to link back to the business?
If you can’t think of any, you’re going to have a hard time using SEO to make a difference.
9. Less Authoritative
Hands down, authority is one of the most important factors when it comes to getting your website on the first page of Google.
They have made no secret of this fact.
But how do you demonstrate authority on your website?
At the risk of repeating ourselves, this is another thing that’s difficult to do when you only have one page.
It’s not easy to cover a topic in any depth when you’re limited to a single-page design. Especially when you need to be concise and stay focused on your primary message.
The best way to build authority is by including a variety of content on your website. You need to showcase your industry-specific expertise — and it’s much easier to do this using a website with many pages.
Multi-Page or Single Page Website:
What’s the Right Choice for You?
When it comes to deciding how you will configure your website, only you can decide what’s best for your business.
Ultimately, you need to think carefully about what your goals are — and what you need to achieve with your website.
As we’ve already discussed, you need to consider your future needs as well as your current needs. If you’re just launching your first product, a single-page website could work well.
But what will you do when you launch your next one? Can a single-page design continue to meet your needs?
It’s important to note that single-page websites do come with a handful of benefits, too. For instance:
- They offer simplicity.
- When done right, they can help keep users engaged.
- They tend to have good conversion rates.
But none of these benefits are exclusive — it’s possible to create a simple and engaging multi-page website that prioritizes conversions.
Is this something you need more support with?
At GOAT Interactive, we’re experts in web development — and we can help you figure out exactly what you need from your website.
Get in touch via our contact page to get your free, no-obligation assessment.
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