The homepage is a critically important page for many reasons. Oftentimes it is one of (if not the most) trafficked web page that we have on our websites.
Homepages were once the authoritative one-stop-shop for online brands, but over the years, search engines become more adept at understanding what users are looking for and their purpose has become more targeted. Just as the homepage’s purpose has progressed, so too have the wants and expectations of the people viewing them; and as marketers, it’s our job to deliver on those expectations.
To understand how the purpose of the homepage has evolved, we’ll take a look at some of the original ways of developing a homepage and compare them to the practices of 2014.
Give your homepage a singular focus
It used to be that we would promote all of the major sections of our site on the homepage — here’s our product, check out our blog, here’s this new launch point, look at this new thing we’re doing! All of this is great, but they end up competing with each other for attention. And while these methods may have worked for websites of yesteryear, it’s not working in 2014.
Nowadays, we can make each of these different sections easy to find and navigate. This way we can focus our homepages uniquely on the most important information, the most important customers and visitors. Whatever you want to say, communicate it quickly and in a visual-centric way — perhaps a video or some graphics that reinforce your primary message.
From here you can A/B test different variations of your homepage to find out what viewers respond to the best.
Cut back on the keywords
It used to be standard practice to try to cram as many keywords as possible into the homepage. And in the past, this made sense because it would have been your highest PageRank page as well as the page that earned the most links.
These days, Google and other search engines are much more sophisticated and understanding. They know your website is about a lot of different things, not just the one page, and are considerate about a site’s authority in different areas and around keyword terms and phrases. This allows your internal pages to inherit strength and authority from your overall site, which lets you focus on a smaller, more refined subset of keywords on your homepage. Focus on brand-centric keywords and leave the unbranded ones for more specific pages deeper in your site.
Back when we were cramming as many keywords into the homepage as humanly possible, we needed walls and walls of text to harbour them.
Since we no longer need to accommodate a generous helping of keywords, you can ditch the lengthy prose and quickly communicate the primary objective of your homepage — your value proposition. Many good homepages use simple text and take a visual-centric approach to help the viewer absorb the information in a swift and interesting way — this could be a video, illustration or graphic, just to name a few.
Don’t stress about the fold
In the past, there was a lot of pressure to keep your important information “above the fold.” But thanks to tablets, smartphones and wider screens, we as website viewers do a lot more scrolling, so really, the concept of keeping everything above the fold is becoming more and more antiquated. Keep some page content at the traditional scroll line, it will keep the experience compelling and draw the eye downwards, encouraging the viewer to keep scrolling and giving visibility to the rest of the information on your homepage.
There is a lot that can be said about homepage development, but these four points cover some very important issues. When writing a homepage, above all focus on clarity and simplicity. Help people understand quickly what the site is about and enable them to find what they are looking for without having to work hard to find it. A well designed and organised homepage will allow your visitors to feel comfortable and confident that they have come to the right place.
If you think your homepage needs some refurbishing, but are unsure where to start, contact our Digital Manager, Veronica Nobbs. She’ll be happy suggest some tips and tricks to get your website running on all cylinders. p: 950 2143