The success of your homepage determines the success of your whole website.
It’s the page that welcomes visitors to your business and leads them to click through to other pages, sign-up for a free trial or newsletter, or read your blog.
When it’s working properly, traffic to your site will steadily increase along with conversions. When it’s not, there are signs that will let you know (if you know where to look). High bounce rates and low conversions are just a couple signs that your homepage SEO needs improvement.
Once you figure out that your homepage needs work, where do you start?
SEO can be broken down into two large categories: technical SEO and UX/UI (user experience optimization). Both are extremely important to the success of your homepage. Technical SEO helps your site rank above your competition in the SERP’s (search engine results page), and will increase clicks to your website.
Once folks arrive, user experience takes over. Your website has to be pleasing to the eye, simple to use and navigate, and get users the information they desire within a couple of clicks. Otherwise, they leave disappointed and looking for your competition. Simply put, your website has to speak to your specific target audience and get them to take action.
If visitors are not taking action, it’s time to improve your homepage. We’ll talk about both technical SEO and UX/UI in this article and give you 12 tips to improve the performance of your homepage.
Technical SEO tells search engines about your website, which is constantly being crawled for information. Tell search engines who you are, where you are, and what you are all about. The information makes it easy for search engines to pull you up at the appropriate time.
How is your URL structure? Is your business name in your URL? This is a great article to sum up a few URL best practices.
Look at H1’s and title tags. Make sure your business name and one or two keywords are used in H1’s and title tags.
Draft killer meta descriptions. Meta descriptions directly impacts clicks to your site. They are included underneath the title of the page in search results. This gives searchers a sneak peak of the webpage and will help them determine if they will in fact click to your page. Make sure these descriptions are thoughtful are are free of keyword stuffing and weird language.
Don’t force tons of keywords in your homepage copy. Focus on one or two, maybe just a phrase that encompasses what you are all about.
Check image and video sizes. Make sure videos and images are loading at appropriate speeds. If it is slow, consider reducing the image sizes. To be clear, you do not have to make the image appear smaller. You can reduce the size without reducing the appearance. It might even be time to update your site with free images that are on-brand.
Upload a sitemap to search engines at regular intervals. Google will crawl your site, but you have the ability to tell Google what pages are on your site at any given time. And if you are making changes to your site structure, it’s a good idea to let Google know.
User experience (UX/UI)
While UX/UI doesn’t affect traffic the same way technical SEO does, it is equally important. UX/UI attempts to understand basic human behavior and make design and content decisions around how users will act on a website.
Is it immediately clear who you are and what you do? Be clear, be concise. One of the biggest problems we see is too much information or the wrong information on a homepage. A clear call-to-action high on the page will improve your conversions.
Clear concise messaging that isn’t too texty. Less is more. Give visitors a reason to discover your site. Tell them just enough to make them click deeper into the site.
Is there a path for visitors to follow? What do you want visitors to do? Have a clear path for your visitors to follow whether you want them to sign up for your newsletter or buy product.
Make sure your most important and high traffic pages are linked on the homepage. Check analytics to see what pages are the most popular, and put links to these pages on the homepage. It doesn’t have to be at the very top. Users are accustomed to scrolling down a page to see what information is at their fingertips.
Try not to link to outside websites on your homepage. It’s important to keep visitors ON YOUR SITE. Why would you send visitors away from your site instead of inviting them to explore yours? But if you must, make sure the link opens in a new window so your website is still open in the background!
Don’t auto play anything! A background looping video is all the rage right now in homepage design, and those are great as long as they don’t play audio. Think about all the visitors that are stealthily exploring your homepage in a coffee shop or at work. How fast will they close your website when the audio plays? Quickly.
Pay attention to both technical SEO and UX/UI. Your amazing (now improved) homepage will reward you with not only higher rankings, but more favorable analytics metrics and new customers who are exploring your website and converting.