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Single-page websites have taken over the internet lately. More and more businesses are choosing to streamline their sites to get straight to the point, and newer brands are opting to avoid paying to create a dozen or more pages. The question is whether single-page websites are actually good for you and your brand.

Admittedly, there are a few clear benefits from single-page websites. They tend to work well on mobile devices and load more quickly than a site with numerous pages. Since more than half of all searches are now coming from mobile sources, these can help you ensure people on smartphones don’t have to wait to check out your stuff.

There are also a variety of free tools that can help set-up a stylish one-page site, while designing a full multi-page site can cost thousands of dollars.

However, it’s not all roses and sunshine when it comes to single-page websites. Here are a few things to consider before you decide to go minimalist with a one-page website for your brand:

Lack of info

The biggest problem with single-page websites is simply cramming everything your potential customers want to know all on one page.

On a multiple-page website, you can publish all sorts of content and valuable information that helps your visitors become informed and excited about your products or services. When you cut all that down to one page, you lose a lot of the details that can be a deciding factor in turning someone from a visitor to a customer.

Even with a great layout that includes separate sections for different topics or types of services, it is nearly impossible to include everything your variety of visitors want to find.

SEO limitations

Since you can’t fit in as many types of content or information, it is also hard to target as many keywords or phrases as you have in the past. Sites with lots of pages of content can cover a huge range of keywords related to your business, helping you rank on diverse search pages that might draw in different parts of your audience.

On that note, it can also be hard to keep your site looking “active” since you are only updating it for new products or when you change your business’s phone number. Rather than keeping people up-to-date, single-page websites are typically planned to be “evergreen” and need minimal updating. That may sound nice, but search engines tend to prefer sites that are regularly adding new information and resources – not stagnant sites that are only updated a few times a year at most.

Cost vs. Effect

One of the most common reasons I hear for going single-page is that it is cheaper. You don’t have to hire a web designer to customize numerous pages with unique layouts and images or have a writer fill all those pages with copy and content.

That can all be tantalizing, but as the saying goes: “you get what you pay for.” If you use a free or cheap template for your single-page website, you risk looking bland and forgettable because others are using that exact same layout.

Even if you hire someone to create a great single-page layout, it becomes hard to make your page effective. Strategized approaches get cut to fit within the limited mold, and your copy becomes broad to cover as much as possible as quickly as you can.

All-in-all, single-pages require a ton of work to be anywhere as effective as a traditional website. You have to fight an uphill battle to optimize your site for search engines and hope your content is so insanely precise that you aren’t missing any details your customers want. So, if you are choosing a one-page site for its low-cost, you should realize it will cost you one-way or the other down the road.

The final verdict

As with any trend, it can be hard to resist the urge to be up-to-date and hip. But, trends are fleeting because they often aren’t fully thought through. There will always be a small number of brands who benefit from going to a single-page site, but most discover it’s not as great or easy as they thought it would be.

Local SEO Infographic Banner

It constantly surprises me how many local businesses don’t believe in investing in proper online marketing and optimization. Given, I see every day how establishing a quality online presence and optimizing it for higher visibility can benefit a business. Still, many local businesses hold the conception that online marketing is only important for national level businesses, and they couldn’t be more wrong.

Current estimates say that more than 2.6 billion local searches are conducted every month. More importantly, statistics show that these local searchers are becoming more and more mobilized to quickly go from search to purchase thanks to the use of smartphones to search on the go. Nearly 86 million people are regularly using their mobile phones to look up local business information, and these searchers are highly primed to convert. Simply put, without an online presence and the optimization to make your brand visible you are missing out on a large chunk of potential customers.

Hubshout recently created an infographic to illustrate how important local search engine optimization (SEO) really is for your business. Not only does the infographic show what you are missing out on by neglecting your online presence, it also shows how many many businesses have yet to establish themselves online in a meaningful way. There is still a lot of untapped opportunity online, you just have to make the leap.

Local SEO Infographic

Source: Hubshout

 

Matt CuttsUsually Matt Cutts, esteemed Google engineer and head of Webspam, uses his regular videos to answer questions which can have a huge impact on a site’s visibility. He recently answered questions about using the Link Disavow Tool if you haven’t received a manual action, and he often delves into linking practices which Google views as spammy. But, earlier this week he took to YouTube to answer a simple question and give a small but unique tip webmasters might keep in mind in the future.

Specifically, Cutts addressed the need to have a unique meta tag description for every individual page on your site. In an age where blogging causes pages to be created every day, creating a meta tag description can seem like a fruitless time-waster, and according to Cutts it kind of is.

If you take the time to create a unique meta tag description for every page, you might see a slight boost in SEO over your competitors, but the difference will be negligible compared to the other aspects of your site you could spend that time improving. In fact, overall it may be better to simply leave the meta description empty than to invest your time paying attention to such a small detail. In fact, on his own blog, Cutts doesn’t bother to use meta descriptions at all.

Cutts does say that you shouldn’t try to skimp on the meta tag descriptions by using copy directly from your blog. It is better to have no meta tag description than to possibly raise issues with duplicate content, and Google automatically scans your content to create a description any time you don’t make one.

When most people think of SEO, they see it as a way to earn the top spot (or close to it) on the search engine result pages (SERPs). Markets can be highly competitive, and if SEO can get you above others in your industry than most companies see the process as being worth their time and money. While that is true in some ways, it is also far from the whole truth.

The wide perception about SEO implies that it is only really important for largely internet based businesses or those in competitive markets. However, SEO can benefit anyone who wants to develop an online presence and make themselves available to the ever-increasing number of consumers who use the internet as their primary shopping tool.

Small or niche businesses with limited resources may ask what the point of investing in SEO could be when there is little to no competition. What is the point when you’ve already earned the top spot, with no signs of losing it in the future? Amanda DiSilvestro has spent quite a lot of time considering this issue (enough for two separate articles across different sites) and the conclusive answer is that SEO can help businesses in niche markets in tons of ways that may not seem apparent at first.

Optimization means improving usability

Between Google’s recent shift of focus from links and keywords to quality usability for users, many aspects of optimization are centered entirely on improving how your site functions for the people that actually use it. SEO can be perceived as a marketing tactic, but it is more importantly a usability tactic. Sites that readers enjoy using are more valuable than those that barely function, and Google recognizes that and ranks sites accordingly.

You’ll have competition eventually

No matter how niche your business is today, eventually the vast majority of companies will see competition. Chances are, if you don’t see competition eventually your niche is in danger of becoming irrelevant. Either way, it is always best to be ahead of any competition that arises, and solid SEO essentially helps you fortify your grasp on the market. Rather than battling a new competitor when they show up, you’ll be prepared and far ahead of their attempts to overthrow you.

You want to be the best, not the only option

Ignoring SEO means your site isn’t living up to its potential. Customers view site usability and professionalism as indicators of the reputability of the company running the page. Because SEO is becoming synonymous with usability, optimizing your site communicates your value to search engines and your users at the same time. If consumers see you as the only option, but think your site and brand look sub par, they will view you as the only option they have rather than the best possible option. That pushes potential customers away and could even cause an enterprising individual who notices your weakness to try to enter your little market.

Conclusion

SEO isn’t immediate. It takes a lot of time to get the results you want. While you may feel comfortably established as the top (or only) option in your niche, things always change eventually. Getting ahead of the curve will save you stress in the long run and make potential customers trust your company more.

Creating quality content is always important, but if your website is poorly optimized it will still struggle to achieve visibility.

One of the biggest issues when trying to optimize pages is having so much “design” on their page that they have very little room for text, or content. With so much physical page structure taking up the viewing area, the page only allows room for a few hundred words of real value.

Justin Arnold from The Mightier Pen has two simple ways to work around this issue however.

  1. Use a ‘Read More’ Feature – This involves a little extra work, because to do this effectively you have to begin writing short ‘teasers’ for every article, which has a ‘read more’ link underneath. However, rather than linking to a different page, a special DIV tag can be used to have the text on the original page, but hidden until the user clicks for more. This ensures the search engines still see all of your text, while users still get a sleek and efficient page.
  2. Use a Scrolling Frame to Include More Text – Frames are often disparaged due to some rumor that Google can’t read content in frames. This is nothing more than a silly rumor, and frames allow you to get all of that text on the page.

These two tips will help you keep the design you began with while offering a better experience for users and better results in the search rankings.

 

While we’ve been talking about how to optimize content quite a bit, there really are no guidelines out there for more broad questions you should be asking when going through the process of optimization. Jenny Halasz from Search Engine Land realized this, and created a flow chart for the optimization process, complete with what questions you should be asking yourself.

Optimization Flow Chart

“What is the page about?” – This is a really simple question, and if you can’t answer it, you probably shouldn’t be building the site. For your page to have any value, you have to know what it is about, obviously.

“What is the purpose of this page?” – Are you trying to create a blog post? Or maybe a sales pitch? How about a press release? No matter what the purpose is, you certainly need to have one, and be able to identify it while working on the page. Thinking about this before hand will help you put your content into context.

“How long will this content remain relevant?” – Educational pieces stay relevant until more information is found. Depending on the field, this could be years or just a few months. Product pitches on the other hand, stay relevant until your next line is due to be released, which can last as much as a year or two. Either way, adapt your content to the time frame it will still be important.

“What makes sense for optimization?” – The previous questions should be considered when creating the page, but now we’re at optimizing the site for search. Are the keywords you’re using relevant? How are you handling linking? Make sure you actually consider these factors rather than “going through the motions.”

The flow chart and questions should help you focus your process to reflect your client’s needs. Every step needs to be planned, and every question should be answered. If you’re optimizing right, the answers should come to mind pretty quickly.

 

Anyone reading this should know they should be testing their websites and landing pages, but if you aren’t well studied in optimization, how are you supposed to know what you should be testing? Oli Gardner has some suggestions to get you started testing your site.

1) Test the Headline – Your headline is the first things viewers will see when they land on your page, and to be most successful it should match what your viewer expected when deciding to visit your page. For example, you can test how positive or negative language performs in your headline, such as “Save Time by Downloading Now”  vs. “Stop Wasting Time, Download Now”.

Headlines are also used by your audience to quickly identify if the site they came to has what they want. Make sure your headline lets visitors know what you have to offer immediately. A great way to quickly test this is to just show the headline to someone unfamiliar with your brand for 5 seconds and ask them what the page was about. If they don’t know, you have a problem with your headline.

2) Test Your Forms – Most landing pages will have some sort of form trying to gain information from visitors. Its important to remember however that you should be offering something to your visitors in exchange for this information. What you offer is up to you, but examples could be an e-book, webinar registration or whitepaper.

The question remains though, how do you test to see if your forms are effective? One test would be seeing which forms people fill out the most, if all fields were made optional. The goal is to make sure you’re offering something equal to the amount of data you need. Try to be efficient and only have forms with relevant information and test different arrangements to see what visitors respond to the most.

3) Test Your Call To Action (CTA) – A call to action is your conversion. It is how you get people to do what you want them to do, and if that isn’t happening, you may need to work on your CTA. Make it descriptive, so that your visitors will know exactly what will happen if they follow the CTA,

A way to test your CTA is by changing just one word and seeing how customers respond. Unbounce found that changing the description “order information” to “get information” led to a 38.26% increase un conversions.

While these examples will get you going, if you want a more thorough guide, you’ll also want to look into Oli’s “Ultimate Guide to A/B Testing”.