Is “more” always better?
While it may seem like a mere matter of preference, the real importance lies deeper than simple page count — we’re talking about content, and the organization that leads to better outcomes on your website.
Start with the basics.
The absolute minimum number of pages is one (obviously) — and to be clear, you can do an awful lot with that one page. Some of the most beautiful, thoughtfully laid out websites I’ve ever seen have been single-page sites, so don’t discount this option.
Now, what this is really a question of is not page count, but rather, the layout in which your visitors will be most likely to actually view. Your goal is to have a killer website, not more pages. You may already have page ideas such as:
1. Our Team
2. The Process
3. Mission Statement
Those are all great things to include on your website! But, not as individual, standalone pages. Sections are the way forward.
The importance of sections.
In the above example, all of those topics can be neatly packaged into a single “About” page, but with multiple sections with specific, useful information. Sections are just what they sound like — small portions of a single page that’s used for a single purpose, and intentionally placed to keep a user going through a site.
Squarespace does an excellent job of utilizing sections on pages, with unique styling options for each. Note: If your website is on Squarespace 7.0, you’re not currently able to use sections — version 7.1 is the only version with this function.
Besides, the likelihood of someone consuming anywhere close to all the content on your website is minuscule! When was the last time you looked at ALL the content on someone’s website?
The goal of a page, then, is to optimize for two things:
1. The retention of your visitors
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
By means of simple statistics, someone visiting your site is far more likely to read through the majority of your site if you have 3 highly-optimized pages instead of 15 single-purpose pages.
Using sections instead of pages means we’re able to more effectively control the flow of the experience — ensuring that visitors will scroll from Point A to Point B to Point C without asking them to even click. This is all about simplifying your message. You’re distilling the key ideas and doing the hard work of focusing your message, so that your visitors don’t have to.
The way that I implement this in practice is to take an existing page’s title, craft an outcome-based heading that matches its purpose, and trim down the paragraph text to most effectively communicate the message. For example: An interior design firm’s “Our Team” page, might be translated into a section headline like “Designing your favorite moments, together.”
While at first, this practice might feel like you’re stripping your site for parts, fear not — this is better in the long-run, and will result in a more streamlined viewing experience.
Search Engine Optimization
SEO is one of those buzz-phrases right up there with cryptocurrency and emotional intelligence. Hint: It’s not as mystical as you think.
What Search Engine Optimization all boils down to is making sure Google can understand the content on your website, and rank it appropriately by the quantity of quality content. In other words, Google prefers pages that are SUPER useful to someone searching, and will actively hide pages that aren’t.
“Useful” is a relative term, but Google thinks it means writing that’s specific, uses targeted keywords, is thoughtful and unique, and keeps people on a page for longer. When you’ve got 15 pages of semi-weak content, that isn’t clicked on very much, doesn’t include any key phrases, and that rarely gets updated, Google most likely won’t show any of your pages in search other than your home page (another point for one-page sites).
Now, you might be thinking: “Wait, why would I want Google to show anything but my home page? Isn’t that the whole point, is getting someone to the home page?” Yes, you certainly want your home page to be an absolute gold mine for highly specific, searchable content that Google can rank you highly for. You want people on your home page!
But, think about this — why not have essentially 3x the potential clicks if each one of your 3 pages is the same level of awesome as your home page? Why not make every page on your site a gold mine, instead of single-use?
The technical term for this is Sitelinks — it’s the sub-links that appear below your home page when Google thinks it’s deserving of ranking highly, and finds the other pages on your site helpful. You’ve definitely seen them before when searching (see screenshot below). While there is currently no bona fide method of guaranteeing Sitelinks, your chances certainly increase when you’re focused on creating quality pages, rather than simply more of them.
So, how many pages then?
Well, it all comes down to content — how much of it do you have, and is it worth taking up precious real estate on your website? If you’re still feeling unsure, start with three: Home, About, and Services, with a clear Call to Action in the footer of every page. If you can make these three pages rock, you’re ahead of the game.
But, if you’re lacking in the content department, consider dropping your page count in order to make sure it’s of maximum value to your visitors and to Google. Again, even single-page sites can be more than enough to accomplish your goals, and look great in the process.
In the long-term, consider taking the time to make some new content! It can be as simple as writing some new blog posts or talking more in-depth about your process — or more costly like having videos produced or creating custom illustrations. The most simple question to ask yourself in deciding your page count: Will this page help my business grow, or is it simply for appearance? If it’s the latter, it’s time to simplify.