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I'm looking at how best to display content for my website. I plan to have a large number of pages of products, which will contain a large amount of information (ideally, the amount of information on each page will expand over time, as reviews are collected etc).

I've discounted separate pages for different bits of product information (for example: photos and reviews) and would like to keep everything on-page. So I'm considering two options:

  1. Long pages of content (for example: Amazon's product pages)
  2. Pages using accordion tabs (for example: photos, reviews, and descriptions) displayed under separate tabs, but all on the same page)

I want to base my decision on best experience and where possible, evidence that one is more suitable for e-commerce than the other. That is, in terms of user experience and goal conversion performance.

At the moment, I'm inclined towards the long product page because

  1. Amazon's experience of it seems to work well for them.
  2. There are potentially fewer rendering issues across different devices and platforms.

What evidence or data is available to help guide my decision and to rule out one over the other?

2 Answers 2

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SEO

For SEO, which actually might be quite important for online shopping, I would go for the long page. Hidden content is not referenced by search engines. Thus, some data might not be indexed.

The safe solution would be a long page.

Accesibility

Content has to be accessible. Tabs are not the solution.

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  • On the SEO aspect I'm not overly fussed, given that search engines will see the content stripped of its formatting. With regard to accessibility, unless I'm using an accordion that doesn't render tabs alternatively, there shouldn't be a problem, should there? IE, it renders the same way that a search engine sees the page, sans JavaScript. I'll update my question to clarify what I'm asking.
    – James
    Jan 10, 2012 at 18:01
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    -1 This is all misinformation. Unless specifically loading accordion content from off-page(eg. Ajax tabs), it'll be indexed just fine; it's still in the source. If you can prove otherwise, provide citation links. James already pointed out the problems with the accessibility argument.
    – Su'
    Jan 10, 2012 at 18:28
  • I must disagree with you Su. First, if data is already loaded on the page, why use tabs? One of the main interest of tabs, is actually the ajax loading of content. Secondly, if data is loaded and hidden in tabs by Js, how do you handle no-javascript browsers? In no way, using Javascript for tabs has enhanced accesibility. If you do decide to use tabs, use them wisely and provide solutions for users with no js.
    – iammichiel
    Jan 10, 2012 at 21:58
  • Plus, gonna add one last thing. When displaying a page with content in a div with display: none or visibility:hidden from start, it is not going to be indexed. Otherwise everybody would write a lot of keywords in white text color on a white background and other things like that. Search engines are smarter then you think, Su. If you hide conten, do it via Js afterwards.
    – iammichiel
    Jan 10, 2012 at 22:03
  • Again: provide citation links for your claims. Here's mine, from the Google Webmasters YouTube channel: Will I be penalized for hidden content if I have text in a "read more" dropdown? If you disagree with him, you're going to have to provide a lot of links. Yes, the engines are smart, about you doing obviously sketchy things. The inquiry here is perfectly reasonable use. If James plans on doing questionable things, then he's taking his chances anyway, and we can't help him regardless.
    – Su'
    Jan 11, 2012 at 9:53
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It's an interesting question and there are two sides to this.

On one hand, Amazon, like any other giant, can get away with things that smaller websites can't. For example, if Amazon were to build a bad backlink profile with 10,000 links, they wouldn't lose their position. But if a smaller website were to do the same, they would fall in rankings. Similarly, if Amazon had a million products with descriptions that were only one character long (i.e., low-quality pages), I'm 90% sure those pages would still end up in the top results, while your site would likely get penalized.

I'm leading up to the point that blindly emulating the structure of a site without evaluating other variables can be a mistake.

In your case, it's best to start with one page, as this will allow you to make each page high-quality and useful for people, which will help them rank better. Later on, if there's enough content, you can divide it into separate pages for reviews, specifications, and anything else you want, as long as you make sure there's enough quality content to make each page valuable.

Many online stores started with a single product page, like Amazon, but after accumulating enough content, they divided it into separate pages, as the intent behind the query doesn't always fully match what's on the one page. Also, the keyword intent can be ambiguous and diluted on the page.

In conclusion, for now, it's best to start with one page and then see how it goes before making any further decisions.

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  • I don't think they are deciding between one page and many, they are deciding between a scrolling page and a page with expandable sections that would contain the same information without scrolling. Mar 2, 2023 at 17:38

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