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Oliver Ewbank

How to Optimise a One Page Parallax Scrolling Website

25th Oct 2013 SEO | 5 Comments


One Page Website2013 has seen a surge in the popularity of single page websites. More and more people are opting for a single page design with a parallax scrolling effect. Will this harm your site’s SEO? Can you still achieve premium rankings? How do you optimise a domain that only has one page?

The Trend

They say fashion repeats itself, but who would have thought the single page website would come back to haunt us? This is partly due to the explosion of new technologies like CSS3, JavaScript, AJAX and HTML 5. These new developments allow content to be displayed in a number of quirky ways without the need for independent URLs.

Design agencies love this format and it can work extremely well if the site is focused around one particular topic. If you are advertising a single product or service then there is certainly a case for a single page design.

The parallax elevator effect allows the user to save lots of time by having quick access to different sections on the same page.

How Search Works

Reasons Against

There are a number of reasons against having a single page website. You only get one URL so you can only target one or two keywords. There is only one set of Meta to play with and you are limited to one H1 header. You also have a heavy Home page. All the assets are loaded in one file which can sometimes lead to a slow page speed.

An ecommerce website should avoid a single page design at all costs. If you just want to rank for your brand name this can be achieved with a single page website. For sites that provide one service or product it can also be a viable option.

If design is the most important element there are a number of ways to optimise a single page design.

What Google thinks?

So what does Google think? According to Matt Cutts Google have got better at interpreting JavaScript.  He explains (in the video below) ‘If it works for users it should work for Google as well’.  So if the content is good you should rank normally like any other website. The only problem is you can only compete on your brand term and one or two keywords (unless you have a blog).

Blog

If you have a single page design and you want to target more than one keyword a blog is the best work around. Hosting a blog on your domain will enable you to produce new content relevant to your website’s objectives and goals. It also allows you to target more keywords.

For example, you may have a one page website that is designed for travel insurance. The Home page can target your brand name and one keyword i.e. ‘Student Travel Insurance’. You can use the blog to target more long tail keywords like ‘Travel Insurance for Your Gap Year’. Create the blog inside a directory like yourwebsite.com/blog/ (as opposed to using a sub-domain like blog.yourwebsite.com.)

Authorship

If you have a blog it’s essential to connect the content to a Google+ profile. You can link your blog posts to a Google+ account to build up credible authorship. Instructions can be found here. This will display your picture, which can help to increase CTR. It is believed the more authority your authorship has the more credibility Google will give your content.

Additional Pages

You can always add a few more pages if your service expands. Obviously this won’t make it a one page website but there are plenty of  jQuery WordPress themes that allow you to create additional pages. If you have additional pages you can target additional keywords.

The ‘combo approach’ is quite common. Spotify have a Home page with parallax design but some of the content links to separate, static pages that explore a particular topic in greater detail. The result? It’s US based site has thousands pages indexed by Google.

Spotify

Separation

Another solution is to divide your Home page into multiple pages. To do this you just need to keep links to those secondary pages on your Home page. This will allow you to use the Parallax effect but still use multiple pages. This will also give you the opportunity to target different keywords in headings and Meta throughout the domain.

Mobile

Unfortunately Parallax scrolling websites don’t work well on mobile devices. To get round this webmasters have to create a second version of the site specifically for mobile devices. This is something Google did with their ‘How Search Works’ website.

Site Speed

One page designs can sometimes result in a slow Home page. This is caused by having tons of text, images and videos all located on one singular file. Google hates heavy pages because when a user visits one, it takes forever to load. If your URL takes ages to load the user will have a bad experience and leave.

There are six main ways to improve your site speed:

  1. Make sure your site is hosted on a fast server
  2. Ensure your site meets W3C standards
  3. Enabling compression on the site in the form .Gzip compression
  4. Leverage browser caching
  5. Combine images into CSS sprites
  6. Externalising Java script and CSS files

More information on improving your site speed can be found here.

Meta

An issue related to the one-page designs is that you only have one set of Meta to play with (unless you have a blog). A one page design puts all your eggs in one basket and this means you can only target one keyword.

Carry out thorough keyword research to decide what the one term is that you are going for. It will be essential to rank for your brand term so make sure this is included in the title and description. Stick to the character guidelines – 65 for a title and 155 for a description.

Content Marketing

Modern day SEO is becoming less about individual keyword rankings and more about good quality content marketing. If you have a one page website you will need to heavily invest in content marketing. You won’t be able to count on individual keyword rankings so referral traffic will be your next port of call.

You need to create good quality content to build an audience and drive new business.  If you only have a one page website you will need to push content through a blog or externally. Content marketing can take on many forms including:

  • Blog Content
  • Award Promotion
  • Blogger Reviews
  • Competition Promotion
  • Questionnaires
  • E-Books
  • FAQs
  • Glossary of Terms
  • Whitepapers
  • Press Releases
  • Infographics
  • Videos

Social Media

If you plan to optimise a one page website you must be active on social media. You can make up for your lack of individual URLs by growing your social signals. Google favours big brands and one of the biggest ways to demonstrate value is to have a credible social following. The following need to have a regular stream of content to help grow your profiles:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest
  • Google +

Google Plus

If your website is limited to one page you need to make the most of the additional platforms available. Make sure you have a presence on Google+ Local so your website can capitalise on local searches.

It’s essential your company has a profile on Google+ as it’s their own social platform. Once your profile builds up authority is will show up with a logo for brand searches.

Conclusion

One page parallax scrolling websites are certainly easy on the eye. They look cool and are all the rage. If you have national ranking aspirations you need to make sure you have a superior content marketing strategy (in comparison to your competitors).

If you want to rank for a variety of keywords make sure that you have new content created regularly. This can be done by installing a blog inside a directory like yourwebsite.com/blog/

Social media authority is your best way to show Google you are a recognised brand. Authorship is your best way to give your content credibility.

If you have a wide range of products then a single page website is definitely not the route to go down. If you provide one service and only want to rank for your brand name and a few basic keywords then parallax scrolling is a viable option.

Get Involved

Do you think Parallax scrolling improves user experience? Have you achieved successful results optimising a one page design?  I would love to hear your thought’s in the comments below.

Image Credits

Web Design Concept from Bigstock
How Search Works from Google
Spotify Homepage from Spotify

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Oliver Ewbank About the author

Oliver Ewbank

Working in new media for over 8 years, Oliver Ewbank has worked for a range of brands including eBay and SportBusiness.com on SEO, PPC and Social Media Management. He has won awards for his SEO work and been featured in a number of publications, including Virgin online.

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