Wireframe Website

Best practices: One-pagers and holistic websites

The trend towards one-pagers or long-pagers originates, on the one hand, from benchmark comparisons with Wikipedia: Extremely comprehensive and long articles usually have a very good ranking. In addition, there is also the factor of user behavior on mobile devices, which now account for a large percentage of internet traffic: They tend to scroll more than click, and spend 1/3 less time surfing on a website on average. Hence, it is with increasing tendency that former short pages and individual URLs are combined to create holistic sites in order to facilitate navigation and keep users on a website longer, making it easier for conversion (inquiries, purchases) to take place. However, those intending to convert to such a modern website should adhere to the following basic principles which we have gleaned from experience.

Keywords

Generally, I recommend that you focus on “mid-tail keywords” for holistic websites. These are search terms that consist of 2 to 3 words. This is where the chances of achieving good SEO rankings and a high conversion rate in combination with Google AdWords advertising are the highest. They also make it easy for the dwell time to be optimized. Dwell time is one of the most important user signals which Google considers when assessing the relevance of a website.

Optimization for longer search terms or “long tail keywords”, on the other hand, should be performed on sub-pages, as this allows the click through rate and bounce rate to be improved. Both of these are also important user signals for SEO. Hence, FAQ areas and special topic pages which we optimize for full-text questions are placed on sub-pages.

In the case of multiple highly disparate search terms, it is almost impossible to be found with a single page. For example, if you want to be found under industry-specific search terms, various services and solutions, it is unlikely that you will be successful with a one-pager. This is because such websites are usually well-indexed for one topic (e.g. the industry), but rarely reach page 1 on Google for other topics (e.g. services). In this case, I recommend grouping keywords according to topic areas and distributing them across various URLs with long pieces of content — i.e. do not use a one-pager, but instead multiple long-pagers.

A navigation will then be required in order to link the pages and/or URLs, just like when navigating from section to section within a page.

Navigation

Having to navigate a long website only by scrolling and skimming the content is simply too troublesome for many users. The risk that they get annoyed and leave is higher than the chances of them staying longer on the page. Hence, ensure that your visitors are able to navigate between the sections and headings. To do so, you can implement a classic horizontal navigation at the top of your page, or use a vertical menu on the left. Both menus should be fixed in place so that they remain visible to the user even when scrolling.

In addition, I recommend that you limit each menu option to one clear word. Using more than one word reduces clarity and unnecessarily increases the complexity of your website. After all, websites should always be understood intuitively. Above all, this reduction helps with sitelinks — directing users to sub-pages and headings (h2 or h3) directly from the Google search results.

Sitelinks in Google Suchergebnissen
Sitelinks below the meta description – Screenshot from Google

Conversions

Speaking of navigation: Because Google Analytics, like most other statistics tools, has difficulty recording what happens within your URL because the data is usually transmitted in an encrypted fashion, important conversions and goals such as contact sections and forms should be tagged with extra tracking codes or shifted to separate URLs.

In order to increase the conversion rate, I recommend that you always display the following information above the fold (area within the first 600px that is initially visible to the user) on pages with offerings:

  • “Elevator Pitch”: One or more short sentences which showcase the unique selling points
  • The overall result of customer ratings or seals of quality
  • Other sales-relevant information on service, support, and shipping

Confirmation of these assertions should then be provided in the content.

Content

In your texts, describe your offerings in a concise yet comprehensive manner, as a top 10 site in Google’s desktop search results is around 1,500 words long on average. In mobile search results, it is only 1,000 words. To ensure that your texts do not put visitors off, they should be broken up into clear paragraphs and captioned with sub-headings. At the same time, the total length of a heading and a paragraph should not exceed that of a smartphone screen (in landscape mode).

Avoid filler words and explain technical terms in the texts. Do not write SEO texts that sound mechanical. Instead, methods such as the WDF*IDF analysis should only be used for inspiration when deciding which terms should appear in your content. Apart from these terms, you should mention the most important search term — the focus keyword — in your title (the h1 heading), using the exact spelling where possible.  Ideally, alternative forms and variations of the keyword and other search terms related to the topic then also appear in the text.

Furthermore, you should give your customers and readers a voice: Previously, I already mentioned that the results of customer ratings belong above the fold. Ideally, you should also link them to the corresponding comments or quotes. If you have a WordPress-based website, you can also use the rating module of our SEO plugin for this purpose. Our plugin supplements the comment function in ratings, allowing the result to be inserted directly in Google search results in the form of stars via automatically structured data.

Ankerlinks und Sternebewertungen in Google Suchergebnissen
Star ratings and anchor links as site links – Screenshot from Google

The rating texts improve the relevance of your page, and the stars increase the attention it gets in the search results. This leads to better click through rates, dwell times, and rankings.

You should also choose a meaningful layout for your text: Ideally, you will have all your content in a single column in order to fulfill the requirements for optimization on mobile devices (“mobile first” approach).  However, you can also choose a layout with up to four columns if this improves legibility on desktop devices. This is usually a good idea for overview pages. Furthermore, images and animations help to visualize information and keep users on the website.

I’ve also prepared for you a collection of inspiration for holistic web design on our pinterest channel.

Media

The longer your content becomes, the more media is presented in it. This can lead to your website becoming very slow. However, because demand for fast websites has increased tremendously (load time of less than 4 seconds is mandatory), the first thing you should do is save all images in the right format.

  • Photos are best saved in JPG format with a slightly or highly reduced quality (60-80%)
  • Diagrams are best saved in SVG format with vectors, as they result in the smallest files in almost all cases, and can be scaled losslessly. When using text in SVG graphics, it is important that they are inserted using a web font (font of your website) or that the text is vectorized. Alternatively, you can also experiment with PNG in 8 bits or GIF with a reduced number of colors for diagrams.

Before uploading, all JPG, PNG, GIF, JavaScript, and CSS files should be compressed. I explain how to do this in my guide on performance optimization. In addition, loading images and content via LazyLoad only when they appear in the visible area of a page may prevent Google from finding them. The same applies to hidden slider elements and accordion content. Hence, for desktop SEO, important information should never be hidden in such elements or functions. For mobile SEO, Google also takes into account hidden elements.

I would always use YouTube to host my videos, as this also allows them to be used for video SEO. By the way, the YouTube interface of the microdata module of our SEO plugin makes it really easy to add video previews to Google search results.

Conclusion

Although the demand for comprehensive content is increasing, it also entails particular challenges when it comes to user-friendliness, and even the measuring of successes. One more thing: Never forget your actual goal and the call to action in your content.

Have you had any other experiences regarding your one-pager, long-pager, or your holistic website? Share them with us!

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