A colleague, a client and a friend Jo Williams recently asked me a question about one page websites SEO, specifically “Is it bad for SEO to have single page websites?”. I wanted to share my response with you in hopes that the answer helps you in selecting your next website implementation. Let’s first take a look at what I mean by a single page website.

One page websites and what they look like

One page website SEO, example

One page website is a website that utilizes jQuery(AJAX) technology to move you around without re-loading the page. As a result we all website pages in a single scrolling browser window. See the example above by clicking on the image.

One page website example

Now we know that one page website can be a cool way to execute a small business or an agency website. But do single page websites play well with SEO? Let’s look at an example of a Calgary-based web design and online marketing agency Redline Interactive.

One page website SEO, Redline

Redline has a one page website featuring its work samlpes and contact information. Pretty much all you need to know about an agency. Until recently the company had been competing for the term “Calgary web design”, among other key phrases. They outperformed the competition in Calgary and, I’d assume, were getting a lot of traffic from Google. A quick “site:” lookup on Google shows that the site has two pages: Homepage, Contact Us page and an indexed PDF file on why hire Redline (there are other URLs indexed but they’re not for consumer eyes).

So far it looks like a great example of a one page website ranking #1 in Google. The biggest reason for such performance was that they engaged in extensive link building efforts. Quick MajesticSEO lookup tells us that they had been doing link building heavily late last year. My apologies for cutting the image short. I just wanted to make sure that I can scale it properly for this post.

One page website SEO, MajesticSEO example

As you can see, in November 2010 they got over 6,000 links, which was clearly the main contributing factor to its high rankings. Then, as the graph shows, their link building efforts decreased significantly. As a result, they dropped to the second page of Google for the same term, now sitting in between #11 and #15 in Google.ca organic results.

One page website SEO, Google

One page website SEO example takeaways

By the way, by showing the example I don’t mean to disrespect Redline or pick on them. They, in fact, do a great web development and online marketing work. The company just happened to provide an example of one page website for the purposes of this article. Let’s now look at what we can learn from this example.

  1. All link building activity was focused on linking back to a single page on the website.
  2. This single page website was not being updated that often, being a static one.
  3. Link building was probably a single contributor to higher rankings, no new content was produced.

My logical conclusion, and it’s just my educated guess, is “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” when it comes to SEO. This example proves that link building activity does affect rankings. But links, although important, not the only factor Google looks at when it ranks websites.

One page website SEO recommendations

So, given all of that, here’s what I told Jo and what I’m sharing with you now.

  1. One page website is a great idea. It looks cool, it smells cool, it feels cool. It IS cool! So, if you are an agency or a creativity powered small business, one page website is a great way to execute your web presence.
  2. However, make sure that you have new content created regularly. This can be done by installing a blog inside a directory like yourwebsite.com/blog/. This is my recommendation as opposed to doing a sub-domain like blog.yourwebsite.com.
  3. When link building you should link general keywords like “calgary marketing agency” to a homepage, but use more specific keywords to link to your blog posts.
  4. This will allow you to both build links AND expand your website with new content through regular content addition.

Valuable update (September 10, 2011): after a few of your comments on Twitter and Facebook I decided to add a bit more relevant links to this post. Here’s what others say about one page websites and their relationships with SEO:

  • “The SEO effects of a one page website” discussion at Cre8tiveForums
  • “Single Page Website SEO” blog post at Permanently Uncached
  • “Repercussions of a single page website” discussion at SEOchat Forum
  • “SEO for One Page Websites” Q&A at SEOmoz

I hope this makes sense. Please let me know if it doesn’t. And don’t be shy, I greatly appreciate your +1s, shares and comments below the articles.