Anastasia Owsley
Sep 09, 2020 | 21 min read

There are different types of websites—media, entertainment, ecommerce, business, etc.—each with its typical structure and approach to design and SEO. Sometimes, it suffices to have just one page on a website—for example, to represent a business or portfolio. While single-page websites give an opportunity to be creative in their design, their SEO potential leaves much to be desired. 

In this article, we will explore all the different ways of creating a single-page website and the specificities of optimizing it for search engines. 

What is a single-page website?

The concept is quite self-explanatory: a single-page website is a website that contains only one page. It usually has a long-scrolling layout and a particular CTA it is designed for. 

What purposes can a single-page website serve?

  • Selling one particular product or service. Usually, one-page websites look like landing pages concentrated on one offering. If you don’t need to have several pages and you don’t plan on having a blog, a single-page site is the perfect option. 
  • Gaining brand awareness. Some companies create websites just to have some exposure on the web.
  • Having a creative portfolio. Portfolios are another popular example of single-page sites. It’s useful to include all your contact information and major works on one page with the goal of distributing it on other channels.
  • Hiring a team. Companies can create websites to attract potential employees and one effective page is enough in this case.

Surely, there are more purposes you can create a single-page website for, be it for business or just for fun. We will focus on how to build a site that will convert users and bring you profit.

Let’s explore the typical components of a single-page website. Its structure includes:

  1. A catchy headline. A headline is the first thing a person sees on the website (unless it has some very disturbing elements) so make sure to make it attractive. Studies have shown that value proposition, how-to phrases, and interesting testimonials make the best headlines.
Single-page website's catchy headline
  1. Navigational buttons linked to different sections of the page. The fact that it’s a single page doesn’t mean you can’t provide links to different parts of it. It’s useful to have a navigation bar at the top of the page, always visible while scrolling, that sends you to different sections of the website.
Single-page website's navigation
  1. A basic description of a product, service, brand, etc. Your one and only page should describe your offering clearly and in detail. It’s also a good idea to include reviews to make your product look more authoritative and relatable.
  2. A distinct CTA. This is the most important aspect of your single-page website: if it’s aimed at encouraging users to take some action, it has to do it right. Make sure your CTA is concise and attractive and speaks to your target audience.

Here’s an example of a website that builds a logical narrative, guiding users through different product features and offering several CTA buttons for the actions that might convert users into leads and loyal customers.

CTAs on a single-page website
  1. Contacts. Put your contact information or a whole contact form on the page. If you have social media accounts, provide links to them along with your contacts.
Contacts on a single-page website
  1. FAQ. It’s in your best interest to include as much information as possible to persuade a person to try out your product or service. Add an FAQ section to help users make an informed decision.
FAQ on a single-page website

Apart from typical elements, one-page sites often have a very distinctive design-centric feature—parallax scrolling. This technique is used to create an illusion of depth and make the page more interactive: while navigating through such websites, you’ll see how the background content moves while you scroll.

Parallax scrolling design on a website

Differences between a single-page website and a landing page

Sometimes, landing pages tend to have the same long-scrolling designs as most single-page websites which might be confusing. However, they have distinct differences. A landing page is a page dedicated to one specific feature or offer and designed to drive users to a product or service. Plus, it exists within a structure of a website that has many other pages. 

On the contrary, a single-page website doesn’t have any hierarchy and is limited to one URL. Any navigational click on a single-page website will lead to a section on this particular page, while elements on an ordinary website will redirect you to other URLs. 

Here’s an example of a long-scrolling landing page that presents one of the products available on the website:

Long-scrolling landing page

Key aspects of a single-page website

What else, besides the obvious, makes single-page websites stand out? And more importantly, how to decide if designing this type of website is the right fit for your business? Let’s explore the major features of single-page sites.

  • Focus on one offer. On a single-page website, users won’t get lost or distracted. If the page is designed properly, users will get all the information they need regarding a brand, product, or person. 
  • Opportunities to be creative in design. Aiming all the efforts at just one page gives room for creativity. But don’t overdo it—design extravaganza might lead to a lower loading speed and lower user engagement. 

Some websites are even created for the sake of having fun with the design—the following example is a page a company made as a visual metaphor of emotions they trigger in their work. It might seem pointless in terms of generating new leads but it’s exactly the kind of thing that speaks about the company’s values and devotion to what they do.

Design-centric website
Scrolling design on a website

Check out this portfolio website with a fun interactive element:

Fun interactive element in website design
  • Benefits of the long-form approach. A trend of long-scrolling web pages allows you to unlock the full potential of a linear structure and storytelling. Check out this story of transforming a product page into an all-embracing story: different sections, kept originally on separate URLs, were included in one page so that users could see all the features, testimonials, and instructions in one place. As a result, their product got 37.5% more signups.

Long scrolling allows for building a solid narrative, which can work for both commercial offers and creative projects. As a powerful tool of persuasion that charges long-form content, storytelling is proven to be effective in marketing.

Long-form content on a website
  • Chance to evaluate your niche. A single-page website might be a starting point for your business to gain awareness and attract customers. It’s faster and less expensive to start from a single page and then scale the site if needed.
  • Easier A/B testing. With all the information condensed to one page, you have a chance to test several versions of your website more effectively than if you run tests on multiple pages with different CTA buttons, headings, and interactive elements. 
  • Fewer technical issues. It comes with no surprise that with only one page, it’s easier to identify and fix technical problems. 
  • Better mobile experience. There’s no way around optimizing your website for mobile devices, and the fewer elements you have, the easier it is to do so. 

Users should be able to navigate through your website’s mobile version as easily as they do on desktop:

Website's mobile version

Besides the benefits that come with this type of website, there are some drawbacks that might influence your website’s promotion:

  • Lower conversion rate. It’s easy to target your particular audience with one distinct purpose of the website, but, as a general rule, the more landing pages you have, the higher are your chances of increasing conversions. HubSpot’s research revealed that having more than 30 and 40 landing pages helps generate 7 and 12 times more leads accordingly. The numbers show that designing multiple pages might be too good an opportunity to miss. 
  • Lack of trust. Users might feel that a single-page website is not authoritative enough. To establish credibility, you need to include such pieces of information as testimonials and FAQs in a way that makes them clearly visible on the page.
  • Limited SEO possibilities. Your biggest obstacle with a single-page site is SEO. You won’t be able to use advanced techniques and most SEO experts claim they dislike the whole idea of such websites. Google Webmasters’ answer to how Google sees single-page websites is pretty vague and revolves around the idea that a website needs to be useful in order to rank well. It is indeed important but no matter how useful your site is, being limited to one page leaves out many SEO possibilities.

Why single-page websites are bad for SEO

So, what makes it so hard to promote a single-page website?

  • The semantic core is limited. You can’t pack one page with as many terms as you’d like so the hardest job will be to segment and prioritize your keywords to use the most important ones.
  • You can’t produce as much content as you’d like. One page is all you have and you can’t supply your SEO with multiple pages, blog posts, and other pieces of content.
  • There’s no room for siloing and other powerful structuring techniques. Siloing is a concept of grouping related content within the site’s hierarchy used for enhancing internal linking. With one page on your hands, you simply don’t have enough content to group and structure.
  • You can only use one Title and one Description for the whole site. Title and Description tags are crucial elements of how the site appears on the SERPs, with one page, you only have one chance to make the most of them. 
  • Search engines find it harder to understand what a single-page website is about. Search engines rely on crawlers that analyze different types of data and the site’s technical structure. With less information to inspect, they might not rank your website well.
  • Search engines won’t index each section separately. Even if you make anchors that link out to different sections of the page, Google will only index the page as a whole.
  • Fewer sources have links leading to single-page sites. Your link building opportunities are also limited since the less information you have, the fewer sources are interested in linking out to your site.

Before reviewing the best practices for single-page SEO, let’s learn more about the various options for creating such websites.

Different ways of creating a single-page website

There’s an array of templates and website builders for you to choose from. Or, you can hire a team of developers and designers — even if you go for a demanding creative design, it will cost you less than a multiple-page website with a complex structure. 

Let’s see what your options are for building a site without any outside help:

  • Templates. Services like Tooplate offer a variety of templates with a possibility to download their HTML, CSS, and JS files for free. You only need to choose a template you like and fill it with your own content. While the level of customization is low here, this method allows you to make a website fast and with minimum effort.
Website portfolio template
  • Website builder. Builders allow you to create a website by choosing and adjusting different blocks using the drag-and-drop principle. Such services don’t require any coding skills and are quite easy to use. You can select a template and customize it or build a website from a number of different blocks. Just to name a few, Wix, uKit, and Jimdo are commonly used for creating simple websites. See the typical elements offered by Nicepage:
Website builder
  • Content management systems (CMS). Choosing the right CMS is a major task for any website, be it a single-page or a multi-page one. WordPress is the most popular system which is powering more than 30% of all existing websites. It gives enough room for customization and supports many plugins that can help you monitor your site’s performance. There’s a number of free and paid WordPress themes for one-page websites:
Wordpress templates for single-page websites

To learn more about different options, check out our article on choosing the best CMS—to find the system that will best suit you, take into consideration your site’s scalability potential, your SEO goals, and your niche.

  • Hand-coded website. You can make a single-page site from scratch if you have basic knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JS. This approach will give you more control over your own code but surely is more labor-intensive.

To sum up, pay attention to the following when choosing a theme or template:

  • What pre-built components are there
  • How customizable the components are
  • How does section division work and how is navigation between different sections managed
  • How can CTA buttons be added

If you have a budget for employing professional programmers and web designers, you can expect a unique site that will have all the right looks and custom functionality. You might find an agency that will offer an all-in-one solution that includes both design and coding. Or, you can order them separately by hiring freelancers or niche development companies. So, who do you need to hire?

  • Web designers. A design team can create a website according to your very specific requirements and make it stand out from the crowd. This might be exactly what your one-page site needs as it has to grab the attention of users right away and keep them engaged. It’s up to you to decide if it’s reasonable to invest in custom design. There’s an opinion that hiring designers before validating your business idea is a waste of money but what is also true is that you can’t have a second chance to make a first impression. 
  • Programmers. You’ll need frontend and backend developers to ensure that the website is shown properly on any device and in any browser and the data is kept securely and displayed correctly.
  • Content creators. The content you create for your website is actually the most important thing that will drive your conversions and bring you to the top of the SERPs. You can work on it on your own or attract experienced copywriters and SEO specialists to refine your content.

Internal SEO for single-page websites: mission possible

As we’ve mentioned before, one-page SEO leaves much to be desired. To make your site visible and comprehensive to search engines, you’ll need to keep some tricks in mind. 

  • Old domain. Even though the domain age isn’t a valuable ranking factor, buying an old domain might give you an advantage at the initial stage of optimizing your website. Aspects to look for while choosing one include the old site’s niche, its backlink profile, and overall Google history. SE Ranking allows you to evaluate the value of any domain: you can check its traffic using the Competitive Research tool and review its backlink profile in the Backlink Checker tool. Pay attention to the Domain Trust metric that analyzes the data on referring domains and backlinks to predict a website’s ranking success.
Competitor research in SE Ranking
Backlink checker in SE Ranking
  • Secure protocol. A secure HTTPS protocol is a must for any website nowadays: it ensures the security of data and is enforced by regulatory bodies. 
  • Analytical tools. Use Google Analytics to track your website’s visits, sources of traffic, and user demographics. To set it up properly, add events for every link and button you have on the page, as well as scroll tracking to see how far your visitors get. There are many tips you can find on the web, including even short online courses on Google Analytics for one-page sites. Google Tag Manager can be of great help in tracking visitor behaviour.
  • Responsive design. It’s essential to design your website to be mobile-friendly as the share of searches performed on mobile devices is growing by leaps and bounds. Test your URL to see how your page is displayed on a mobile screen and if there are any issues with it. 
  • Thorough semantics collection. Collecting and segmenting keywords is an essential SEO task for setting up any website but with a single-page one, it’s especially important to do a great job with your semantics since that one page is all you’ve got. In SE Ranking, you can perform the initial research to check out what keywords your competitors rank for (Competitive Research tool) and explore keyword suggestions (Keyword Research tool).
Keyword suggestions in SE Ranking
  • Image optimization. Make sure to compress images to optimize the loading speed and use your keywords in the alt and title attributes for images to appear on search. This is a must for any website but might be harder for one-page ones since their design often relies on heavy visual assets. Run a website check using SE Ranking’s Website Audit tool and go to the Images Analysis section to learn if any fixes are needed.
  • Multiple headings. Single-page websites may be the only excuse to use multiple h1 tags. With several headings, you can accentuate several sections and rank for multiple terms.
  • Content division. No matter how limited one page is in terms of structure, you can still segment your content and provide links to sections within a page. There are several HTML tags suggested for distinguishing sections on a single-page site: <div>, <section>, and others. It’s common to put a header menu with anchor links leading to different parts of the very same page. Templates might have built-in anchors you can adjust. Don’t forget to keep the navigation menu visible at all times during scrolling. By putting a targeted keyword in each anchor link, you make your site both easier to navigate and more crawlable. 

Compare two product pages designed with an anchored menu:

Product page with an anchored menu

and without one:

Product page without an anchored menu
  • Social shares. Add social share buttons or widgets to your website—that way, users will be able to post your content on social media. The technicalities of this component will depend on the CMS you are using.
  • Diverse content. Since you only have one page, you need to give full play to different types of content and interactive elements. At the same time, you might want to keep your page coherent and suitable for your particular audience. For instance, if your goal is to encourage users to register for a marathon, all the elements on a site, no matter how diverse, should fuel your particular CTA. 
  • Testimonials. Reviews and testimonials give value to any website and putting them on a long page about a product or service will increase credibility and make users feel more informed before making a decision.
  • Good loading speed. The loading speed is a major technical SEO factor so make sure to check it and improve if needed. There are many site speed test services, including Google’s PageSpeed Insights—the score calculated by it and its recommendations will give you an idea of the improvements you’ll have to make. The health check in SE Ranking’s Website Audit will calculate your website speed along with other technical parameters. 
Speed check in SE Ranking
  • Regular updates. Your website should always include the latest updates on what you’re selling or presenting. If something has changed, you should put it on your page, otherwise, users might get misinformed. 

External SEO and ads to boost your site’s recognition

When you’re done with your design and content, what can you do besides internal SEO tasks? Let’s explore the ways to promote your website through link building, ads, and social media.

Getting external links

As you probably know by now, promoting a one-page website is tough. Link building is one of the pillars of SEO and requires you to work on getting external links pointing to your site. They need to come from authoritative sources and be implemented naturally, otherwise, you might get Google penalties and damage the website’s visibility. It’s a lot of work. But how many links can you manage to have for just one page? Concentrate your efforts on quality and not quantity: arrange links only from related and trusted sources. 

Setting up a PPC campaign

It’s much easier with PPC ads as they perfectly fit a single page with a distinct CTA. It’s a fact that paid traffic converts way better if pointed to specific landing pages instead of homepages: Unbounce research revealed a 65% higher conversion. In this context, your single-page website is that landing page you can effectively drive paid traffic to: it describes a product or service and encourages users to purchase something or get in touch. If your page is easy to navigate, persuasive, and trustworthy, you have all the chances to run a successful PPC campaign. 

Unleashing the power of social media

Gaining brand exposure on social media won’t hurt. Find out what channels your target audience uses and set up the pages to tell about your offerings and promote your website. You can implement some ads on social media as well: Facebook Ads Manager offers a flexible system for choosing the right audience and adjusting the campaign.

There are also lots of forums and question-and-answer websites like Quora and Reddit where you can find related threads and potential customers. Don’t go for all of these things at once: first learn how they function, get to know your audience, and then promote your website in a natural, non-aggressive way.

Implement native advertising

Native ads are those that look like regular content but are, in fact, paid materials. They work because they are seamlessly integrated into a media format and perfectly match its style and function. If you have the resources to craft an interesting native ad and you’re already picturing where it might appear, it’s a great chance to boost your website’s conversions.

Final words

A single-page website gives you an opportunity to present all your information in a linear fashion, attracting users to a particular action. It allows for quicker launch and testing, as well as for unlimited design creativity but leaves you with quite a narrow range of SEO strategies. 

To sum up some of the recommendations we’ve mentioned, the following actions will help you create a single-page website that brings conversions:

  • Choosing a customizable template or website builder that works for you or hiring a team to design your website
  • Using the power of storytelling and planning your content to grab users’ attention and inform them about your offering
  • Crafting a compelling CTA that speaks directly to your audience’s needs
  • Breaking up your page into sections and providing anchors to them in the menu
  • Working on on-page and off-page SEO but never compromising your content’s quality and coherence

What experience have you had with single-page sites? Share it with us in the comments section! 

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4 comments
  1. I hired a team to design a simple website for my restaurant ordering app. When the app expanded and I had to include more information on the website, developers couldn’t scale it and I ended up making a completely new, multi-page website from scratch…

    1. Thanks for telling about your experience, Jesse! I’m sorry to hear that you had to rebuild your website. Scalability is indeed one of the biggest issues in web design, and making a single-page site, one must consider its scalability potential.

  2. I don’t like the whole idea of keeping everything on one page. It’s simply disorienting, and if you can put your contacts, ‘about us,’ and other sections on separate pages, why not do so?

    1. Thanks for sharing your opinion, Estelle. You’re right claiming that single-page websites won’t work for everyone. And there’s certainly no sense in making one if you dislike long-scrolling design. However, it is possible to design a one-page site with comprehensive navigation.

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