If you look at today’s websites you will without a doubt notice how many single-page websites or “Infinite scrolling” websites there are around. Why are they so popular and secondly and more importantly are they SEO friendly?

Before we answer this question we first need to take a look at what an “infinite scrolling” website is. An “infinite scrolling” website is a website with different sections all fit onto a single page. Normally a website will consist of a number of different html pages connected to one another via links. The home page will be on its own html page. The “about us” or “contact us” pages will each be developed on its own separate html page. Every time you want to navigate to a different page as reflected in the website’s menu, a new page will open in your browser and the one you were on will close. Every time you open a page one will close and the other will open afresh.

With a single-page website you will scroll down to the different sections such as the “about us” and “contact us” sections. The single page website also have a menu bar, but instead of opening a new page when you click on the “link” it will scroll down to the correct section via a JavaScript command.

Now let us look at the above two questions.

The first question is quite easy to answer. “Infinite scrolling” websites are popular among users (visitors) because it is so easy to navigate. We all know how quickly we will leave a website if it is not easy to navigate or user friendly. It is also quicker because no files are opened and closed in your browser. When the website is opened, all the content on the website is loaded.

From a website designer and developer’s perspective it requires less coding and is easier to develop.

From the website owner’s perspective it costs less to develop than a multi-page website and is therefore more cost effective. It is also very fashionable lately especially if you include the parallax effect. On the face of it, it appears that everybody is happy and we can conclude this article.

Hang on, as always, there is the other side of the coin. Not all websites can be a single-page website. Data driven websites will require separate pages for separate functions and communications between the user and the server where the data is kept in a database.

But are single-page websites SEO friendly?

This brings us to the second question: are single-page websites SEO friendly? Why are we even asking this question?

Search engines such as Google finds it difficult to crawl (read) all of the JavaScript code. This is understandable if we consider that Google and other crawlers are not humans and that it will not necessarily “keep scrolling” to emulate the behaviour of a human user.

Search engines are designed in such a way that it reads html files on your website in order to gather all the information that is made available to visitors when they do a search. Remember we spoke about html above. Html is the coding language used to place all the website’s content on the different pages or sections.

That is however not the end of the world for “infinite scrolling” websites.

How do we get around this problem?

Although there are several different methods available Google endorses only one method which includes dividing the website’s content into chunks, creating an URL structure that accommodates “infinite scroll”, proper pagination codes within the html <head> tag, using pushState which is an HTML5 method dictating the load process and using SEO best practices on “every page”.
Read the full post at Google for webmasters.

I know that this is a lot of technical and probably boring stuff for non-geeks. If this article however showed you that single page websites do have SEO challenges, but that developers can overcome it in a manner endorsed by the search engine giant, Google, we have attained our goal.

For examples of a single page website you can look at www.webscripto.co.za and scroll down the page instead of clicking on the links.

For a great example of a parallax “infinite scrolling” website you can visit www.heartkids.co.nz/

As always, you are welcome to ask questions, give your view or just make a general comment.

®WebScripto is a Pretoria based Web Design Company.

Author Eitel Bock

Author Eitel Bock