One of the newer trends in website design, which has actually existed for quite a while but is just now becoming more popular and easy to implement, are single-page websites where the content is accessed via anchor links which trigger dynamic scrolling. (In case you’re not sure what I’m talking about you can find a whole website of examples here.) While single-page design can add a lot of character to a life science website and be visually captivating without sacrificing user flow, a single page website almost always sacrifices SEO.
The reason is quite simple: Fewer pages means fewer URLs, fewer page titles, and fewer high-on-page header tags. Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Muller explained on the Google Webmaster Central forum:
Quote from Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John MullerI’d generally recommend a more traditional site format. It’s complicated for search engines to understand a “one-page” site like that, given that there is so much information on a single page. It’s much easier for our algorithms to focus on individual pages with content that matches the same context. Additionally […], it could be extremely confusing to the user to see basically an empty page when they expect to find content based on a search that they’ve made.
John raises another excellent search-related point that addresses a UX flaw in single-page websites. Even if you do manage to optimize for content that is farther down the page, Google doesn’t index anchor links. Therefore, the search results could indicate the page being relevant to the search due to content well below the fold, but a user who clicks the link will land at the top of the page and not at the relevant content.
Does this mean you can’t use all those nifty scrolling effects on your site? Not at all. It’s possible to use the same type of single-page design and the same effects while still having multiple pages – for example by using a static nav bar header with “real” links as opposed to anchor links but making on-page content accessible via anchor tangs with dynamic scrolling. Another solution is to use landing pages to target additional keywords then link back into the dynamically scrolling page(s) – or just capture leads right on the page by leveraging more highly targeted content, which is the purpose of most landing pages. Landing pages are generally not well cross-linked with other site content and are outside the normal site hierarchical structure, however, and therefore often require additional off-site SEO effort to achieve a high rank for competitive terms.
Ultimately, if you want scientists to be able to easily find your products via search engines, it’s probably best to have a traditional site format.