Parallax Design and SEO | Is a one-page website alright for SEO?

Sometimes the web designer in me is at odds with the on-page SEO expert in me. I want to make my websites beautiful but I want them to rank well.

When looking at new trends in web design I know that it is very important to consider the SEO implications.

I spoke about SEO at WordCamp Toronto 2012 and, during the Q&A I received a great question about how having a one-page website impacts SEO.

What is a Parallax WordPress Theme?

A Parallax WordPress theme is a combination of parallax scrolling and one-page design. Parallax design refers to a scrolling effect  where the web page background moves at a slower rate to the foreground. Used now on single-page websites that have recently become all the rage. In a one-page website the navigation menu scrolls the visitor down sections of a single page, usually with animation effects.  All of your website content is displayed to site visitors on a single page, essentially giving you a one-page website.

But is a Single Page Website alright for SEO?

Many reputable premium theme providers offer attractive, responsive, one-page parallax scrolling themes BUT not all premium themes have been designed with SEO in mind.

Let’s look at different on-page SEO factors and see how a parallax theme impacts them.


A single-page will take longer to load, especially if you have large image files that you haven’t optimized. Google smiles on faster sites as faster page load improves user experience. Read more about website page speed testing.


Search Engines give added weight to content that is above the fold. With Parallax design, you have limited the above-the-fold real estate to just one page.  Most of your website content is pushed below-the-fold.


A single-page website makes it difficult to optimize the site for multiple search terms. With a multi-page website, there are more pages for Google to crawl and display in search results. If you optimize different pages for different search terms, there are more chances that your site will show up in search results.


A one-page website puts everything on the same URL. As a rule of thumb, you want to use keywords in the naming structure of your pages, something you can’t do if you have no secondary pages.


A one-page site equals one Meta Title and one Meta Description.  There is only one page to optimize.


Search Engines give added weight to the keywords found in heading titles such as H1.  Best practice is to only use one H1 per page; so I wondered how this would impact a one-page website.  In this webmaster help video Matt Cutts address this. “If there is a logical reason to have multiple sections then it ‘s not so bad to have multiple H1’s.” So yes, if you use the H1 tag sparingly, it’s okay to use it multiple times.

If you inspect the code of many websites you won’t see any H1’s above-the-fold.  An H1 above the fold on the homepage carries a lot of SEO bang for your buck so make sure you have one.


If you care about tracking click-through rates, bounce rates, and conversions, you should know that it is very difficult to measure engagement on a single page website.

So what do I think about Parallax themes?

The SEO expert in me says no.  A long, Parallax-style scrolling homepage can be attractive and for a simple website.  But you need to ensure that the page doesn’t take too long to load and that there is an H1 heading title, and well-optimized text above the fold.  Make sure that the theme allows for multiple pages and you aren’t limited to just a one-page site if you want to add more in the future.

Before you buy a Premium WordPress theme, do your research. Make sure the theme will help your on-page SEO efforts.

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Over to You

Is SEO important to your website traffic? Would you consider a premium Parallax theme? Does your WordPress theme help your website to rank well?

3 thoughts on “Parallax Design and SEO | Is a one-page website alright for SEO?”

  1. Hi, there. I enjoyed your post. Although I am new to WordPress, I am very attracted to the popular Patti parallax theme. I am a freelance photographer, and yes, I’d need SEO for my site. I know that’s important. However, the Patti theme has this very cool overlay of text on the photo gallery (I’ve seen other themes similar, but not as nice as Patti’s).

    Question is, can I buy a parallax theme, and use only the gallery piece (as in Patti’s) and make the site a non-parallax site to get the SEO benefits?

    Thanks for your response.

    1. Hi Angie,
      I’m not familiar with that theme. Check the theme documentation. The theme should support additional pages. Make sure that you optimize your images for the web so that they will load quickly and your site should be fine. A good host such as WPEngine will also improve your page speed.

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