David previously worked with Europe’s No.1 Marketing Agency & the World’s No.6 biggest Integrated Marketing Agency, seeing first-hand how £150 million+ campaigns are executed to create household brands. Now he is the CEO of a specialist marketing agency helping companies of all sizes.
GDPR Has Made Me Angry
Since May when GDPR came into force, my inbox is devoid of all the emails I liked reading and is now bombarded with emails I don’t.
My question is: When did the world become full of web/design agencies offering single page websites?
Every day I receive multiple emails offering me a new website: built in a day, with a domain, with hosting, with a logo, with a video and with SEO included for $297 or £399 or $497 or £599. The range of prices appears endlessly cheap and if I didn’t know any better - a deal I would instantly snap up.
Some prices include a 3 page website, some 5 pages. But the majority are for single page websites. And this makes me angry.
Why Am I Angry?
It is hard enough getting a company off the ground, or growing a small business, without some agency offering you a single page website which will have to be replaced when the owner realises it can’t flex and expand as their business grows.
It is not necessarily the money, but more the time that has been lost that gets me angry.
Web Design Agencies - Please Don’t Crucify Me
Before these agencies start chasing me along the street looking for blood, yes there is a place for single pages. They are called “landing pages”.
If you are performing a paid advertising campaign, or an email / social campaign to promote a specific service or product, then directing traffic (potential customers) to a carefully crafted landing page will work wonders.
But the landing page should supplement your main multi-page website, not be your main site.
Arguments For and Against Single Page Vs Multi-Page Websites
The web is awash with experts passing their opinions on the pros and cons of single page websites Vs multi-page websites. And in effect, this post is my opinion. Albeit, slightly biased as a result of the anger felt from my inbox filling up with cheap single page website offers.
You just have to Google “single page vs multiple page websites” and you will receive 424,000,000 other views. To save you time, I have collated some of the top pros and cons from the web.
Top 5 Benefits (Pros) Of Single Page Websites
- Display content in a simple format
- Scrolling on mobile and desktops is a natural movement and is easy for users
- Minimises the distraction of other pages which can increase engagement and conversion rates
- Quicker to design, build, get live and maintain
- Good for a single product or service type business
Top 20 Downsides (Cons) Of Single Page Websites
- Impossible to display thousands of articles or products on one page
- Cramming too much content into a single page website gives a terrible user experience
- Leads to poor quality scores for paid search especially for multiple products or services
- Limits the number of keyword phrases the page can rank for in organic results
- Difficult to implement remarketing tactics across multiple products or services
- The ability to add new fresh content to keep visitors engaged is limited
- As the page grows in length and more images are added, it slows down the page load time which annoys visitors and search bots
- Limits the ability to target personas based on user segmentation
- Only one opportunity to implement a Meta title and a Meta description to attract clicks from search engine result pages
- Less attractive for link building opportunities to assist search rankings
- Difficult to share specific sections of a page on social media as social sharing usually defaults to page level
- In reality, single page sites are not scalable
- They make analysing performance and data more difficult
- On-page SEO optimisation opportunities are limited, best practise is to have one Heading 1 (H1) per page, too many H1’s can look spammy
- It is difficult to included detailed information on a single page for each of your services
- Single pages are very poor as ecommerce websites as it is complex to keep the full transaction process within one page
- It can reduce user trust. Single pages are subconsciously associated with landing or squeeze pages, multi-page websites can portray a feeling of creditability
- If you succumb to a Google penalty, a partial penalty is in effect a full penalty, meaning you lose all presence
- If you do expand to a multi-page website, there is restricted ability to realign “link juice” value through 301 redirects
- Multi-page websites will generally outperform single page websites
Did I Just Get Conned By Buying A Single Page Website?
Depending on which side of the fence you sit on, you will argue for or against single page websites.
In general though, most people will use Google when they are looking for information. And if you are a business, you really want to be on page 1 or 2 of the search results to get real benefits.
That gives you two options:
- Pay-per-click adverts
- Rank in the organic results
If you have very deep pockets, you could always pay for adverts to drive customers to your single page website.
That will work to an extent.
But the minute you stop paying for adverts, your visitors and custom will dry up. And if you have deep pockets, why would you consider a cheap single page website in the first place.
So that leaves you with trying to rank on the Google organic results. Can a single page website outperform a multi-page website?
What Ranks More Often - A Single Page Website or Multi-Page Site?
I like experiments. The results are often very compelling.
To begin with, I put myself in the shoes of a potential new start-up and reviewed the top “105 Service Businesses To Start Today” from Entrepreneur.com ( the list can be found here)
I noted ten potential businesses that someone may start and that they could use the web to advertise their services. The list consisted of:
- Mobile Pet Grooming
- Mobile Locksmith
- Self-Defense Instructor
- Adventure Tours
- Pet Sitting
- Mobile Massage
- Mobile Mechanic
- Personal Chef
- Private Investigation
- Copywriting and Proofreading Service
I hope you agree that it is quite a diverse range of services. On reflection, it appears there are a lot of “mobile” opportunities – are we getting lazier and expecting everything to come to us?
Next, I Googled each of these services and noted the websites that returned on page 1 and 2.
FYI - I discounted sites such as yell.com, job listing sites, Wikipedia and review sites such as Trustpilot.com so that I was left with websites that resembled small businesses.
For each service I recorded the top 11 ranking websites, giving me a total of 110 sites. Then I viewed each site in turn to note if it was a single page website or multi-page website.
And what did I notice?
Every website was a multi-page website. Not one was a single page website. Not one.
Single Page or Multi-Page Real World Results
In the real world, if you buy a cheap single page website, don’t expect it to rank highly on Google. That also means, don’t expect lots of customers from organic traffic.
If you don’t believe me, try it yourself.
Take any service that a business might offer and Google it, then look at the organic results. I can pretty much guarantee that you will see more multi-page websites than single page websites.
If you do find an example where all the page 1 and 2 results consist of single page websites or they are the majority, then please let me know as I would be eager to investigate that scenario further.
And before those agencies come after me again, yes, you can make a single page website rank highly in Google. But it takes a lot of effort and expense and it has limitations. This surely defeats the purpose of buying a cheap single page website.
You will get far greater value from a properly thought-out and constructed multi-page website in the longer term.
Finally, “Those who buy on price, buy twice”
It is a saying that I first read in “The Small Business Start-Up Workbook” by Cheryl D. Rickman and I have borrowed it for my own use ever since. Thanks Cheryl.
I have been guilty of buying a few cheap products myself, only to have them underperform shortly afterwards, resulting in me having to dip into my pocket again. This time, to pay for a quality version that worked and provided me with greater value.
What I learned from these experiences, and what I hope those considering a single page website do too, is to take some more time to analyse the options and the long term benefits.
It is often better value to pay more for a superior product (or multi-page website in this case) than to snap up a bargain.
Your business success depends on you making the right decisions. Don’t make them cheap ones.
Save Someone You Know From Wasting Their Money
If you agree with my views and findings, please share this article so that you can help save someone from squandering their money on cheap single page sites.
And if you don’t agree, please still share it. That way we can spark up a discussion below and help those who aren’t sure if they should adopt a single page website or not.
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