The way your website looks goes a long way to affecting the user experience, your SEO efforts - and your conversions.
But before you get into the nitty gritty of designing your website, first of all, you must choose between a single-page design or a multi-page design.
Landing page conversion rates average 4.02%, which means that for some marketers the money is on single-page websites. But multi-page websites have their benefits too, including more link opportunities and a chance to launch a strong content marketing campaign.
But how will single-page and multi-page designs affect your SEO? What design will improve your conversion rates? How will multi-page designs impact your bounce rate and how can single-page designs help you build trust with your customers?
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the pros and cons of both types of websites. We’ll also be discussing their impact on SEO to help you decide which layout to go with.
Pros & Cons of Single-Page Websites
A single-page website is usually a landing page that features a Call to Action. There are no extra pages, such as About Us pages, FAQs, or - in the case of eCommerce websites - no product pages.
A single-page website can be ideal for - among other things - showcasing an online portfolio because you can add a collection of your best work to the same page. All the end user has to do is scroll up and down to view your work - there’s no need for them to head elsewhere.
What’s more, you can adopt a long-scrolling design that gives you plenty of room to add your portfolio.
This is what Homebird, a variable typeface, uses a single-page website for because they can advertise their work and generate leads all on the same page.
- Simple to create and maintain. While a fair bit of creativity is still needed for the colors, typography, and so on, you can use landing page builders, presets, and templates to get a single-page website up and running in no time. It’s easier to maintain because anything that needs to be fixed is on the same page as everything else.
- Easy to navigate. For your audience, single-page websites are easy to use because all they have to do is scroll up and down - and it’s impossible to get lost!
- Fewer distractions and more conversions. Single-page websites can offer more chances to convert your audience because there are fewer distractions that can cause them to change their mind in terms of search bars, other pages, other offers, as well as links that can take them away from your website.
- Simple mobile optimization. Optimizing a website for mobile use can be a rigorous exercise because you have to adjust your elements - such as the size of your buttons and font - for mobile users. You might also have to shorten your content, with research suggesting that mobile users have shorter attention spans. Also, single-page websites contain fewer elements than multi-page websites, which means optimizing everything - from buttons to images - will take a lot less time.
- Fewer opportunities for link insertions. Links - both internal and external - are important for SEO reasons because they give your website more credibility in the eyes of Google and draw more traffic to your site. Because a single-page website lacks extra pages, such as blog pages and product pages, link opportunities decrease.
- Limited content marketing opportunities. Content marketing is one of the best ways to build trust with your audience via educational and valuable content - but a one-page website limits the amount of content you can create. This is because you won’t have a blog section, in which you can create a limitless amount of content.
- More challenging to build trust with customers. When a website lacks pages such as About Us, FAQs, and even privacy policies, it can be harder to build trust with your customers. FAQ pages are especially useful for building trust because you can use them to answer the questions that matter the most to your customers.
Pros and Cons of Multi-Page Websites
To view all the content on a multi-page website, the end user must navigate through the various menus and pages.
Multi-page websites are used by millions of companies around the world, including Starbucks, who have links to multiple pages, such as their Rewards page and their About Us page.
- Can convey more information about your brand. A multi-page website gives you more scope to share more information about your business via About Us pages, a blog, a mission statement - and so on.
- More link opportunities. As we’ve seen, links can boost your SEO by building trust with Google and your audience. With a multi-page website, you can increase your internal links and your external links. For example, you can link internally from your blog pages to your homepage, and also use your blog to link externally. You can also link from one product page to another.
- Traditional and familiar navigation flow. Website visitors are used to websites that have a traditional design flow, which allows them to get from A to B. Multi-page websites make good on audience expectations.
- Harder to maintain. Because multi-page websites have more pages and elements, maintaining every aspect - from technical aspects to more creative aspects - requires more work.
- Each page must be correctly optimized. Optimizing every page for SEO increases your chances of ranking higher in the SERPs. This is because you’re telling Google and other search engines what each page is about. What’s more, if you add keywords that your audience is using, they have a better chance of finding your website. However, optimizing all your pages for SEO is a constant grind. And unless you know what you’re doing, you might make mistakes that harm your SEO efforts.
- Potential for higher bounce rate on individual pages. If you’ve got pages that simply don’t meet the standard expected by a site visitor, they might exit quickly and your bounce rate will go up. This is bad for SEO because bounce rate is a measure of how well you’re answering a user query. If your page is unsatisfactory to the end user, they will bail quickly and your bounce rate will go up. This signals Google that your content is of low value and will drop your ranking.
Why You Might Use a Single-Page or Multi-Page Website
Different factors can influence your decision of whether to go with a single-page website or a multi-page website. Some are more cut and dry than others. Let’s break them down.
Type of Business
It’s logical for an eCommerce company to go with a multi-page website because you’ll need various product pages at the very least.
However, freelancers have some room to choose between single page websites and multi page websites. Here's how:
They could advertise their online portfolio and link to their contact details via a one-page website. It may not always work, but if a freelancer decides to use their website simply as a way of generating leads – before setting up a call or giving out further information via email – a single-page format has its benefits.
Meanwhile, SaaS companies could essentially do the same, leveraging a landing page to generate leads. Why? A single-page website lets you present all your key information to your prospects in one place. You can introduce them to your software, display customer testimonials, add a live chat – and ultimately convert them with multiple CTAs throughout the page.
That said, whatever type of business you have, you need to think about the user experience first and foremost. Ask yourself – will a single page website damage my credibility? Or can I build trust with a single-page format? Trust is, of course, important to site visitors, and you need to find a way of establishing your authority and credibility with whatever format you opt for.
Generally, though, while one page websites are ideal for certain types of businesses, multi-page websites can be implemented by all types of businesses. What’s more, it’s been shown that visually complex websites can intimidate the end user, causing them to exit. If you opt for a single-page website but realize you’re trying to cram too much information into one page, you might want to try a multi-page website.
Budget can be a huge deciding factor. While you can use landing pages and cheap website builders for as little as $6 for a one-page website, building and maintaining a multi-page website can be considerably more expensive.
This is because, as you scale your business, you will need to increase your marketing costs across your website. For instance, content marketing can cost at least $5,000 per year.
Other things you’d need to consider include:
- Royalty-free images
- Video content
And especially if you’ve got a larger business, you might decide it’s better to hire a professional web designer to create your website and all its pages for you.
General Marketing Goals
If you’re looking for a short-term solution (for example, you just want to advertise your online portfolio), a single-page website can suffice. If, on the other hand, you have longer-term goals, you might want to opt for a multi-page website on account of them being easier to scale.
Moreover, a single-page website is ideal for specific goals. But if you’ve got a few marketing goals, ranging from increasing brand awareness, generating leads, and even securing sales, a website with more pages is better.
Whatever your marketing goals are, (such as raising brand awareness, generating more leads, or making sales), you can still provide excellent customer service regardless of what type of page you go with. For example, you can add live chat to any web page - including one-page websites.
SEO Impact of Single and Multi-Page Website
One of the most important aspects you need to consider when deciding whether to go with a single-page or multi-page website is, of course, SEO. In this section, we’ll be taking a look at how both types of layouts can affect your SEO.
Google announced a while back that they were switching to mobile-first indexing. This means that your website must perform strongly on mobile devices.
As we saw earlier, single-page websites are easy to convert to mobile. They have fewer elements and the end user can easily get from A to B with zero hassle.
Multi-page websites, on the other hand, have more elements, such as more buttons, links, and pages, which can make them harder to optimize for mobile and harder for the mobile user to navigate (especially if you fail to get the design right).
Website Load Time
Website load time is essential for SEO because if your pages take too long to load, your site visitors might bail. This will leave you with a high bounce rate, which is a key metric to monitor because a high bounce rate will undermine your SEO efforts.
You can (and should) run your website through a site speed tester. However, it’s natural that having a single-page website can prove advantageous on this front on account of there being fewer pages to test and take care of.
That said, you might have the adverse problem of trying to cram so much information into one page that your single-page website takes too long to load.
Links are a key ranking factor that can go a long way to determining where your website ranks in the SERPs.
And as well as securing more links of your own (both internal and external), you’ll find that - as your website grows - other high-domain sites link out to you. This is also ideal for your SEO efforts because it suggests to Google that you have valuable content and are a trustworthy website.
And while it might seem obvious, it’s worth reiterating that, the more blog posts you have, the more chances that other websites will link to you.
As a result, multi-page websites have the opportunity to secure more links, simply because you can use them to launch a content marketing campaign and link internally. For example, you can interlink between blog posts and redirect traffic from each blog post to the other one, or your homepage. This can also provide a user experience boost and lower your bounce rates.
And while a single-page website is guaranteed to have all backlinks directed to its main URL, which can improve conversion rates since all traffic is directed to your landing page, Google has stated that high-quality content and backlinks are the top-two ranking factors - and this is where multi-page websites stand out in Google’s eyes.
Whether you go for a single-page design or a multi-page design, your goals should remain the same: To craft a website that improves the user experience, which loads quickly, and which - ultimately - converts your audience.
With both types of pages, you’re free to be as creative as you like, utilizing elements like fonts, buttons and images to meet audience expectations.
Both types of websites have the potential to perform well in the SERPs, as long as the content meets the user’s needs. Therefore, it’s wise to understand your marketing objectives, as well as to create a clear SEO strategy that suits your type of website and your target audience.
This post comes from the SpyFu community. Robert Brandl's passion has always been web tools that make your life easier. That's why he founded Tooltester, where you can find reviews and tutorials for the world's best website builders, e-commerce platforms, and web hosting services.