Single Page Application, Web Design, SEO

Single Page vs Multi Page Websites


Often made to replicate the mobile app experience on a browser, single page applications are becoming popular very quickly. However, they make some tasks more difficult and in some cases can result in lower SEO rankings and fewer conversions. How can you tell if this design is right for you?


With the rise of mobile apps, people are getting more and more used to clicking a button or link and having the page transition to the next action rather than load an entirely new page. We often see page refreshes as startling and feel more comfortable when wizard-like interfaces are used instead to simply add and remove sets of controls as necessary. Single page applications attempt to replicate this experience in the browser by having all of the functions and content of a website on one page.

There are of course occassions where multipage applications are more appropriate. Single page applications can seem foreign and unprofiessional for those who aren't used to seeing the latest trends on the web, and sometimes deliberately transitioning users from one page to another is helpful when a context switch is encouraged.

A recent Quora discussion highlights another aspect of the two models- their SEO ranking and conversion potential. Single page applications typically have higher conversion rates and lower SEO rankings while multiplage applications are the inverse, having lower conversion rates and higher SEO rankings. Oddly enough, these two differences are are caused by the same thing- multiple pages have more content.

SEO rankings are determined by many things, but high on the list is the amount and quality of content (images, text, and videos) on a site and how many links a page has coming in from external sites. Multipage applications have more room for more content, and web developers and designers are more likely to link to content on its own page rather than shared among all the content on a single page. In some cases, single page applicatiosn refer to websites that start with nearly no content and load the other content only when necessary, and serach engines haven't figured out how to adequately factor that content in.

The other side of the coin is that too much content can distract users. Althoguh it's more difficult to get single page applications higher in search engine rankings, those visitors who do come to the website have fewer paths between the start of the page and the call to action, be that an 'email us' form (ahem, ours is at the bottom of this page) or a 'buy it now' PayPal button. Single page applications oftne get higher conversions, due to being focused and having less to distract visitors, so for those businesses who more often have people looking for the site than stumbling on it, SPAs can actually be more profitable than the traditional multi page model.

As with all choices, we're always glad to discuss to great detail the options available to our customers and to demonstrate with a qucik mockup when necessary.