It can sometimes be difficult to know whether to have multiple pages for a topic on your website, or to consolidate these into one longer master page. In this blog post, I will explore the pros and cons of each option and how changes in user behaviour affect this.
To Consolidate or Proliferate? That is the Question
In other words, are you better off having lots of different pages on your website, targeting similar keywords, or is it better, in terms of SEO, to combine these into one master page with more content?
In this blog post, I am going to concentrate on non-ecommerce sites because ecommerce sites have other issues in terms of duplicate content and pagination. If you would like to find out how these ecommerce issues can be resolved, then give my colleague Matt’s blog a read.
Think About Your User Experience
We live in a mobile first age. Millennials are used to scrolling on both desktop and mobile and are not averse to long pages containing large amounts of content.
Social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, which have seemingly infinite feeds, have familiarised users with the idea of scrolling.
There has been a drastic increase in the number of users browsing websites on their mobile devices, so in 2015/2016 the ‘long scroll’ was introduced in web design to cater for this. The idea here is that the longer or thinner the device, the longer the content will need to be and more scrolling will be necessary.
Something to take into consideration here then, is how many of your users view your site and content on a mobile device vs a desktop. You can find this information in Google Analytics, under the mobile overview tab.
In terms of thinking about user experience, consider whether your users are likely to want to view all relevant content on one page, or if they would prefer to navigate back to the menu to find other similar content.
Having more content on one page, if its relevant and useful, may encourage your users to stay on that page for longer and foster increased engagement and conversions. On page content can be organised in a logical way, so it makes sense to the user.
Poor Quality Content is No Longer Acceptable
The Google Panda update was rolled out in 2011 and focuses on thin or duplicate content. Since then, any page on your website that is thin on content is less likely to rank well in the search engine result pages (SERPs).
So what is considered thin content? Well there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer to this. Every site is unique and should be addressed individually.
If you are suffering from thin content on your site, then you may receive an error message like the one below, which will display in Google Search Console. This focuses heavily on ‘low-quality or shallow pages, which do not provide the users with much added value.’ This is more than just splitting your website into multiple pages instead of one master page. It focuses more on duplicate content that has been created using unnatural methods.
There is a handy tool online called Siteliner, which can be used to analyse the amount of duplicate content on your website.
A Few Points to Consider
When deciding whether or not to create multiple pages on a topic ask yourself these questions:
- How much content is on the main page?
- Does it make sense, or is there enough to split this up?
- Do the supporting pages have enough content to stand alone?
- Is it easy for users to find other relevant content, if it is spread across numerous pages?
- Are multiple keywords on a topic being targeted?
Creating and optimising several pages around a topic allows you to target more key terms. If done well, this may mean that your site has more visibility in search results. However, the content needs to be different enough to make it worthwhile creating a new page.
The Benefits of Consolidating Pages on Your Website
- A better user experience is provided since all the information users are looking for is available on one page, so they don’t have to go searching for it on your website.
- Page rank and external link equity is combined.
- Life is slightly easier in terms of SEO because there is only one keyword to target, rather than multiple terms that may end up competing against each other.
- Studies show that longer content provides better results.
The Disadvantages of Consolidating Pages on Your Website
- You can’t target as many individual keywords as you can with separate pages.
- There may be too much content on the page and this may cause page loading or speed issues.
- Website users may not scroll all the way to the bottom of the page if there is too much content.
Anchors Can Provide a Solution
Anchors are invisible links on web pages that you can use to allow users to skip straight to the content that is relevant to them.
It may be worth using anchors to take the user to a specific area on the page, rather than creating new URLS for individual pages on a topic. This avoids duplicate content and pagination issues and provides a more streamlined user experience.
To summarise, if you can provide users with all the answers to their questions on one page, then you will probably rank better, than if you have lots of shorter pages.
One thing to remember is that consolidating pages is only one of the methods you can use to improve your organic rankings. A complete SEO strategy is required to take full advantage of all other opportunities.