That One Page Site is Cool. Too Bad No One Will See It.

By David Veldt - 03/18/2013

There are plenty of common misconceptions about web professionals.

Developers don't care about design; they just care about making things work.

Designers don't care about development; they just care about making things look good.

SEOs don't care about design or development; they just care about rankings.

Those are just a few examples, but I call bullshit on all three. I'd say any developer, designer or SEO that's worth a damn cares about development, design and  SEO. Ideally, they would have experience or at least common knowledge in each of the other areas.

Personally, I began my career in design. I've always been a right brain dominant person; spending countless hours growing up buried in sketchbooks. Eventually, drawing transitioned into graphic design which led to learning a thing or two about coding. So now, as a digital marketer, I'd be lying if I said web design wasn't a huge interest of mine and a crucial component of new site builds.

That said, I'm seeing some design trends that worry me. They worry me because they completely disregard the possibility of your site being found in organic search. At the top of this list is the growing popularity of the one-page/long scroll sites. Admittedly, I think some of these sites look great and when I'm browsing WordPress themes, these are some of my favorite ones. At the time of writing, Themeforest had 618 results following a template search for "one page."

In case you're wondering "What's the big deal?" I'll tell you. In the SEO world, it is common knowledge that you can only realistically expect to optimize a single page for 1-2 keywords. Sure, you could receive traffic on many more than that, but if you want traffic for a specific keyword, you should plan on a page dedicated to it. We encourage clients to build out more pages of quality content, break apart pages that are too long and "cast a wider net" for search engines.

Picard FacepalmIf you don't know what I'm talking about at this point, take the Impress theme from TeoThemes as an example. I absolutely love this design and think it has some excellent qualities. But, as you can see, clicking on the top menu elements takes you to anchor links lower on the homepage and I couldn't find any links to what a subpage would look like (I do find it ironic that this demo page has SEO listed as an example service).

I realize it's not everyone's primary (or even secondary) goal to be "found." I know some companies that actually prefer to only operate on a referral basis, similar to the "cool" hidden nightclub with no outdoor signage. Yet, for most companies, not knowing the downsides to these designs can hurt and severely limit their business.

Now, am I saying you should avoid these designs? Absolutely not. You can have your cake and eat it, too. You just need to make sure you do two things if you have a long-scroll homepage:

  1. For every section on your homepage, make sure it links to an optimized subpage on that topic.
  2. Those subpages should be 100% unique from the content on your homepage. Don't copy/paste just so you have a separate page. Avoid duplicate content at all costs and use the subpage as an opportunity to go into more detail or even break things down into more subpages.

Whether you are working with a designer or choosing a theme, make sure you don't approve or make a purchase without seeing some subpage designs to make sure the designer accommodated for them.

Most importantly, remember to approach to web projects with a holistic view; taking design, development and marketing into account. Happy scrolling!

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Posted in Design / SEO

Leave a comment

Zachary S

10 years ago

Great write up David...a few of us on my end were beginning to think we were the only ones who were concerned with this. One page sites are fun, and can be useful to a point, but when it comes to using data and best SEO practices, they're severely lacking. Hopefully it's just a trend that passes along.

David Veldt

10 years ago

Thanks! Some of the coolest designs I've seen have been one pagers; it's just frustrating when I see that they don't link to any subpages. I've even seen a some WordPress themes for sale that don't even seem to have a template for any subpages.


8 years ago

Stumbled across this late it seems, as I'm still often put in a situation where my clients express their love for the one page site and want one built. I always explain the cons, but if the client feels most of their traffic will be driven directly to the URL (i.e. via business card, SEM, etc), then I'm fine to recommend it. There are some industries that are just so competitive, that a page 1 search engine ranking may never be possible, especially if the owner is not willing to put any effort into posting new content, etc.

On a side note, I think some of these rollover image effects need to be given a rest i.e. the image just zooms in slightly on rollover.

Nice summary, thanks for writing!