Saturday, 1 February 2014

Single Page Websites & SEO

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Single page websites are quite popular right now; I see more and more each week on sites like The Latest andProduct Hunt. No doubt they look cool when filled with great fonts, graphics and transitions. But can you SEO a single-page site and rank?
Google’s Matt Cutts had this to say: (video autoplay)
It’s going to depend on what your particular area is, what the topic is, and what kind of layout you come out with. But if it works for you and for users to have that all on one page, for the most part, it should work for Google as well.
I took a look at what others have to say about SEO optimizing single-page sites. Common advice includes adding sub-pages or a blog. My only problem with this is it skirts the issue by turning your one page site into a multi-page site. Does this mean you should throw in the towel?


At first blush, authority might seem like an argument in favor of single page sites. Every off-site, inbound link will point to the same URL. The counter argument is that it’s more difficult to earn links for the same content again and again than it is to get them for fresh content.
And while Matt says single page sites can work for Google, SEO experts believe having multiple pages with off-site links improves the overall credibility of a website.
  • Page Authority/PageRank: It’s possible to benefit by having all links point to the same URL.
  • Domain Authority: Questionable/unknown: having a 1:1 ratio of links to pages, and having only one page may inhibit domain-wide authority benefits.
  • Link Building: It may be difficult to earn a continuous flow of new links over time.


Search engine algorithms seek relevancy; they match queries with content. While a single page site may improve relevancy for your primary keywords, it’s more likely you will dilute relevancy for sub-topics and terms that might rank easier on their own pages.
Consider Google’s Hummingbird update. It strives to better match the meaning of a query to relevant documents, not just matching the words in a search with words on pages. If you have only one page describing everything about your product or service, features and benefits, sales pitch, case studies or top customers, potential user markets or industries and all the other stuff found within a typical business website — how relevant can one page be, as a whole, for any one section?


Can search engines crawl your single-page site? If you have any transitions that load new content as users scroll down, you must make certain search engines can crawl and cache your page from top to bottom. Search spiders have limited support for executing javascript.
If you’re not sure, copy a line of text from the bottom of your page and search for it in Google Search within quotes. Does it appear in the search results? Another test is to turn off CSS and javascript before loading your page. I use the Web Developer Toolbar for this.
I’ve seen some designers advise serving a static version of the page to search engines while displaying the dynamic version to people. I’d be cautious about doing this. Google defines cloaking, a penalty and banning offense, as serving different content to people and search engines. If you serve a static version to search engines you better be sure the page content is exactly the same, indistinguishable.

SEO For Single Page Sites

If you’re not dissuaded at this point, you may be wondering: how do you SEO optimize a single page site?
1. Defined Content Sections
Design each section of content as if it were a separate webpage. Select the keywords you desire to rank for and draft the appropriate headline, copy, image alt tags and any other SEO signals.
2. Separate Content Sections in DIVs
Place each section of content inside its own DIV. Look at the code on The .GIFYS. Their sections include:
<div id="animals">...content...</div>
<div id="art-design">...content...</div>
<div id="cats">...content...</div>
<div id="film">...content...</div>
CSS id names are not considered SEO keyword signals, but it’s a good way to keep things organized. You can also use them for anchor links, which are SEO signals.
3. Anchor Links
We know Google looks at anchor links. Not to be confused with anchor text, anchor links take you to a specific place within a webpage. In search rankings, we’ve sometimes seen Google list anchor links as site links.
On The .GIFYS, each link on the left side navigation menu is an anchor link. The link will take you to the Art + Design content section. I like having an on-page navigation section like this.
Try to optimize each DIV id for both usability and keyword SEO. You want them to make sense for people using your website and have a relevant keyword for the section.
To create an anchor link for each section,
Name the DIV id.
<div id="art-design">
Link to it.
<a href="#art-design">Art + Design</a>
From another page the link would be:
<a href="">Art + Design</a>
4. Give Each Content Section an H1 Tag
This is probably the one time I’ll suggest multiple H1 tags on the same page. An H1 signals that what follows is distinct and separate from the rest of the page. Only use one H1 per section.


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.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.