Why Single-Page Websites Are Bad for SEO
Recently, we’ve seen an uptick in single-page websites among private practices. One-page designs have become “trendy” over the past couple of years, and, chances are, you may have already visited one of these sites a time or two before reading this article.
For those who may not have come across one yet, a single-page website includes the entire site’s worth of information on a single homepage. It often looks like one long page split into multiple sections (About, Services, Contact, etc.), all featured separately but on the same page to view everything in one place without redirecting to new pages. Basically, everything you need to know about that business is on that one single page – you just keep scrolling and scrolling until you find the section relevant to you.
While the idea of a single-page website might seem new and exciting, it is not doing your practice any favors when it comes to online visibility. It may even be working against all of your digital marketing efforts!
This blog post will cover the top reasons why SEO is essential and how single-page websites are lowering your SEO value.
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What is SEO & Why is It Important?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is the practice of making small modifications to various parts of your website to help search engines better understand your practice, so they’ll include your site in their search results, sending you free business. Businesses, just like yours, optimize their websites by following a set of Webmaster Guidelines hoping to achieve a spot on the first page of Google.
When any user visits a search engine, whether it be Google, Bing, or Yahoo, they expect a plethora of relevant responses. These search engines are among the most trusted for one reason – they only include the most relevant web pages in their online search results. Users know that if they ask one of these search engines a question, it’s highly unlikely they won’t find the answer they’re looking for within the first results page.
Search engine bots are continually scouring the internet, looking for new content to add to its index. When they come across a new website (or a new page on an established website), they scan its content looking for specific triggers that will help them understand what it’s all about. They then rate your page and use that rating to compare your page to others in their index and assign it a ranking in their search results. The more relevant your web page content is to a user’s query, the higher it will rank.
At this point, you might be wondering, “How does the number of pages I have on my website affect my online visibility?”
Think of it this way: the homepage of a website is like the foyer of a house, and the various web pages users can enter from there are all the different rooms of the house. You may be able to get a general idea of what the rest of the house looks like based on its foyer, but it will be a very vague concept at best. Before deciding if the home as a whole is right for you, you would still want to do a full walk-through and visit each individual room.
The same concept can be applied to a private practice website. A private practice website that displays all the necessary information on one seemingly neverending page doesn’t only make it difficult for human visitors to follow. It also makes it very difficult for search engine bots to gain a full understanding of your website, resulting in a poor ranking.
Now that we have established the importance of SEO let’s dive into how a single-page website can keep you from achieving a high page ranking.
Reason #1: Single-Page Websites Have Limited Backlink Opportunities
Search engines tend to favor websites with many links (both internal and external), and they will give higher rankings to sites with the most relevant links pointing to other trusted sources. To learn more about how links affect your SEO, check out our SEO Checklist for Therapists.
Not only are single-page websites far more limited in their ability to attain external links – I mean, who wants to link to a 3,000-word web page that doesn’t even mention what they want readers to see until 2,000 words into the page? – but you will never have any internal links because you have no other pages on your site. The only links you could use in the run-on the content of a single-page website would allow readers to jump from one section to another on the same page, which wouldn’t achieve the same result for SEO.
For best results, you should make sure your private practice website has several pages, especially individual pages for each of your specialty services. Then, whenever it’s appropriate, try to include links from one page of your website to another, guiding your visitors to follow the path you’ve laid out for them and eventually, after you’ve provided the answers to all of their questions, getting them to contact you.
Reason #2: One-Page Websites Only Have a Single SEO Title Tag & Meta Description
Another reason to have a full website with individual web pages is to give yourself as many chances as possible to show up in online search results for as many relevant keywords as possible.
Sure, these keywords can be included in your page content and emphasized by using them in subheadings. Still, nothing tells a search engine bot, “Hey, this web page should definitely be shown in search results for this keyword!” like using that keyword in the page’s title tag and meta description.
Each of these tags is very limited in the number of characters you’re allowed to use. Google will only display the first 50-60 characters of title tags on its search results pages, and meta descriptions can only include up to 158 (with mobile search results only showing up to the first 120 characters).
Due to these strict constraints, the only way to ensure your website ranks well for all searches relevant to your website is by creating multiple pages, each with its own unique keyword-rich title tag and meta description.
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Reason #3: Single Page Websites Don’t Invite Visitors to Explore
Apart from the obvious benefits of creating keyword-specific content and the ability to link from one page on your site to another, multi-page websites can also categorize their web pages into sections (and subsections) to better organize their content.
It can be challenging to display the right amount of content and format it appropriately (for both a positive user experience and a good SEO ranking) on a single-page website, especially if there are many specialties to be included. A single-page site will quickly become congested and will most likely come across to your visitors as disorganized.
Making it easy for your visitors to find what they’re looking for will result in a better user experience and, therefore, a higher ranking.
Reason #4: One Page Websites Have Longer Loading Times
Between all the images, texts, effects, and other content you need to make a single-page website stand out, the page becomes heavier and ends up taking a lot longer to load than a website with multiple pages.
In addition to Google admitting quite a while back that page speed is one of the many factors they take into account when determining your ranking, some studies have shown faster pages resulted in a 16.5% increase in conversion rates.
Most web users don’t have the patience or time to wait for your whole site to load at once, so websites that take too long to load are a huge turn-off. On the other hand, multi-page websites spread all of their information across many different pages, all of which load at different times, making the loading time for each page much faster.
Reason #5: Single-Page Websites are Difficult to Navigate
Each user is looking for different kinds of content and different levels of details within the page. Some users want to read brief overviews while other users are looking for a full detailed page with every detail about the service they are researching.
Single-page websites that offer more than one service, which most practices do, will have difficulty including enough information in an understandable way. A typical practice’s website will usually have a list of each 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, where do you put all of that detailed information?
With one-page sites, your users lose the ability to quickly compare your products or services, as they will need to scroll indefinitely to find relevant information. Forcing them to navigate the maze of your single-page website to find the content they are after can often result in frustrated users who navigate away from your website.
For example, imagine your bank’s website is a single page, and you’re trying to open a new account or take out a loan. Would you be able to do that with a single-page site? Chances are, it would be a terrible and long experience.
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Reason #6: The Content on a Single Page Site Lacks Detail
Another downside to single page websites is that the single-page website’s content is generally not as specific as what you’ll find on a multi-page site. You can’t devote a full separate page for each topic you want to cover. Instead, all your information is on one page, making it very difficult for a visitor to find what they’re looking for within all of that page content. In addition to the page layout, it’s just as vital to pay attention to how you organize your content when designing your site.
But even if your layout is fantastic, visitors may still end up disappointed with the lack of relevant content you’ll get with a single-page website. It’s impossible to cover the same amount of information in one all-encompassing homepage and truly connect with your ideal client as it is with a complete multi-page site.
Reason #7: One-Page Sites Don’t Allow for Advanced SEO Strategies
Finally, there are many SEO strategies and best practices that simply won’t work on a single page site.
One method is known as siloing. Siloing is the practice of structuring your website into central areas of interest to demonstrate authority in these areas. Put more simply, it is a way to organize your website into categories and subcategories to best display your content.
There are three steps to conquer the siloing technique:
- start with one broad topic,
- break it down into smaller and more specific subtopics,
- and, ultimately, cover each of those individual subjects in extreme detail.
For example, let’s say your practice’s primary focus is on helping families, so you create a service page on your website that gives a general overview of family counseling. But, as you get further into the page, you get to dive deeper into the many different ways your practice can help families. As you dive deeper into that, you will continue to redirect visitors to even more specific, detailed information on the exact services that can help; all-the-while segmenting the sections of the page with headings and subheadings that explain the content in each area.
This practice not only provides your visitors with easy-to-find answers to their questions, but it also helps improve your ranking for even more keywords and topics. This technique, in particular, isn’t possible to do – at least not well! – on a single-page site. And will often come out looking like a disorganized mess if you try to cram a ton of specific details on many different topics all onto one page. The multi-page design is a much better organizational layout for siloing your content and improving your ranking.
When determining whether you should use a single-page or multi-page layout for your private practice website, you need to consider your business’s goals and what you’re trying to accomplish with your site.
The “quick and easy” lure of a single-page website might seem like the best place to start. However, we absolutely do not recommend private practices utilize this layout. At least, not if they want to get free online referrals by ranking well with search engines.
A website only really needs two things to be successful:
- a good ranking with search engines, and
- to deliver relevant information to its visitors in a way that’s easy to navigate and understand.
Single-page websites make both of these things far more difficult (if not impossible), making them the inferior option. And doesn’t your practice deserve the best?
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