A home page, homepage or simply home is a business card on the web. It is the welcome page and serves to guide the user on the site. However, for one thing, home should not do: rank for keywords other than the brand or company name.
Home search engine optimization may even work for some sites, but that shouldn't be the sole purpose of the home page. In this post, I want to explore the main purpose of the homepage and give tips on how to make it better!
Homepage SEO does not exist!
Perhaps this statement leaves some website owners and SEO's a little unhappy, especially if they have been trying to rank their home pages for a few years.
If everything is right with the settings of a website it is very likely that it will be at the top of searches for terms related to the brand. Still, sites that have their names based on products and / or services can suffer from competition. For example, if you search for "dilmar ames" you will probably find my home in the first position:
However, if you do a search for "digital marketing" you will hardly find the domain "marketingdigital.com.br" in the first positions. If the brand name is a keyword that people can use on Google, there will be more sites competing for that keyword. Therefore, the brand will face greater competition for the site name.
Read too: "What is SEO?“
Why shouldn't I optimize my home?
Don't get me wrong, they need to be optimized but in other aspects like speed, user experience and for social networks.
SEO of a home page
Although you don't need to optimize your homepage for a keyword, there is still SEO work to be done:
- Make sure the page title focuses on the name of your main brand or product;
- Add a clear and recognizable brand logo;
- There should be a clear CTA that catches the eye;
- Don't forget to structure your menu well;
- Provide OpenGraph data and Twitter Cards for better social sharing;
- Make sure that the meta description is filled, that mentions your products and services and invites the visitor to enter your site;
- Images are inviting but the page needs textual information and a great slogan too;
- Don't mess up your homepage with a million links. Keep it focused and don't overload the footer or menu with these links;
- Contact information must be available, including social networks and maybe even a newsletter subscription;
- If applicable, add a search bar.
Read too: "10 Important Items for On-Page SEO“
Tips for homepage optimization
What is your site about?
The first home page optimization tip is to check the content of your website. It seems obvious but your mission should be reflected on your homepage.
Many companies and professionals try to optimize their homepage for a certain non-branded keyword. In most cases, this is a mistake and can lead to problems such as cannibalization of keywords, where two or more pages compete for the placement of a term in searches.
Is your homepage just a big list of products and services or did you really take the time to write a decent welcome to your visitors? Oh, and please, there is nothing more annoying than having an owner literally write on your website “Welcome to our website”.
When I mean welcoming the visitor I mean what can be found on the website. What is your main product or service? What can be found in your products and in the company itself through the website? And the most important: what is the main benefit (USP - Unique Selling Point) for the visitor?
Specify your USP
The second home page optimization tip is to make your main benefit clear. Many sites do not make clear, in their homepages, what the company is offering.
The examples below were taken at random from a search initiated by “digital marketing”. Nothing personal.
Here's a good example of product / benefit display:
Digital Results shows its main benefit in a clear and objective way as soon as the visitor enters the site.
On the other hand, many websites like to use animations and vague descriptions that don't say much about the business. See the example of Agência Criativito. She uses animated text in her above the fold which rotate as follows:
Uhm… good afternoon.
Okay. From my navigation I probably would have noticed this but they could have displayed the logo in the header instead of the textual presentation.
Many can. How will they do it? What is the product? What is the benefit offered?
What?! Is that serious? The four sentences together take about 20 seconds to display. Who wants to browse a site that makes you wait 20 seconds to understand the business, then just inform you that you must browse the site. Which is?! A logo and an open menu would have solved it.
This is a prime area of the home, show the visitor how you can help him.
Vague descriptions or generic terms only work if you have a marketing budget big enough to make it your own. Take McDonald's slogan “I love it all very much” (“I'm lovin 'it”).
But clarity is not the only thing that matters on the home page.
Guide your visitor
A third objective of your home page is to guide. It should be ensured that the home page directs the visitor to the main pages. Of course, the home page needs a good slogan, but it will be useless if the home page doesn't allow the visitor to go to the main or conversion pages.
There are several ways to guide a user. Here are the most common ones on home pages:
Sliders (they suck)
By the subtitle you must have realized that I don't like rotating banners. Still, sliders are used very often in homepages.
It is not that they are not beautiful, many are. The problem is that sliders just don't convert. Less than 1% of CTR (click per impression) is not something I expect for a CTA. In addition, most sliders cause performance problems and responsiveness (adaptation to different devices) is not good.
Instead of using a slider use a good image with a well-highlighted CTA. The chances of conversion increase considerably.
If you still want to use a sequence of banners, go ahead. They can, in some cases, be a good way to present different content on the home at each visit.
The most obvious way to guide the visitor is the menu. Have you thought about what's on your menu? Is it structured and focused? Is it an open menu or hamburger (both mobile and desktop)?
My recommendation is to make it as clear as possible. If you have to use icons or a mega menu go ahead. Just don't overdo it! The menu does not need to take to all areas of your website. There are other ways and internal navigation for this.
But do yourself a favor, be clear! If a page is a contact page, use "contact" and not "let's chat!" or “hello”. Of course, some companies manage to have a “cool” identity and talk to their target audience in the same way, there is no problem with that. What a law firm cannot use is "let's have a chat!". You probably won't talk to your audience.
If you have an online store, the possibilities are endless. But don't add the entire category list to your home's sidebar. Focus on the most visited categories and add them in a prominent place on your home page. Add your best-selling product, perhaps an enlarged image (hero). Be creative.
Your homepage can be the best place on your site to advertise a new product, for example. Always check how much of your sales are originating or are influenced by the home.
On most websites the search bar is located in the header. If you are selling hundreds or thousands of products or if you have written many articles, a search bar is likely to be useful to the visitor.
Why not make it your primary CTA? This is the second step. The first step is to make sure that your search results pages look decent and offer good results.
Visitors using internal search often convert more and are more engaged.
Assume that many visitors can return to your site just to find a way to contact them. Don't make life difficult for them. Have a contact link in your main menu. It can also be an address in the footer or a contact form (short) in the sidebar.
Guiding the user within a website is an art. Practice this art without exaggeration. Don't use prominence in all elements or mess up your organization. Too much information can confuse the user and lead to low conversion rates.
Choose the CTAs that make sense for your type of business / website and stay focused.
Homepage optimization: conclusion
Your home page should make it clear what people can find on your site. It must focus on its main benefit. It should also guide your visitors to the most important pages.
Who knows, you will be able to optimize for the user experience and still rank your home for some terms. Don't be sad if the latter doesn't happen, but be sure to do the former.
If you're having trouble optimizing your site, contact.