Site Building Advice 3

4 Critical Parts of a Top-Performing Home Page

When it comes to the age-old saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” there seems to be an exception when landing on a website’s homepage. With your SEO knowledge bumping you up in the search engine rankings, once your audience is able to find your website, they are going to be driven to feel and react a certain way − positively or negatively. This is the moment of truth, where we all want our homepages to look and feel amazing.

All business owners want their audience to locate their site, find what they’re looking for and stick around a bit. However, according to Nielson Norman Group, website visitors will have made up their minds about what your company is, what it offers and whether or not they will keep reading your content in roughly 10 seconds.

Getting your homepage right from the get-go can be a challenge. With so much to consider regarding search optimization, design, navigation, content and communicating the value proposition of your homepage, these four critical parts will help your website perform at its highest level.

Countdown with us from 4 to 1.

Four:

Implement SEO… It’s a Must
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the ranking of your website on Internet search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo. Keeping up-to-date with SEO best practices across different search engines can be a difficult feat but if done correctly and consistently, can also be rewarding. SEO for your website and homepage is like oil to a car. You can’t just tend to SEO once and leave it, you have to be consistent and update your SEO every so often.

Your homepage vs. search engines top results
SEO considers the following:

  • How search engines work.
  • What keywords people are searching to find your site.
  • The keywords search engines use to categorize your site.

Making your homepage relevant may involve editing its content, meta data and tags to increase the relationship to specific keywords as well as to remove any potential indexing barriers.

Think you can skip SEO? Consider these 10 stats to justify the importance of SEO (hint: pay attention to #6).

Magnifying Glass - SEO
Three:

Engaging Content Converts
Content plays a huge roll in the attentiveness of your website’s audience.  Many small business owners make the mistake of trying to explain every aspect of their business on the homepage… that’s like word vomiting on the viewer, and no one wants to be vomited on. It’s better to leave the viewer enticed enough to click through to another page on your site.

Deciding on Content
When producing content ask yourself if the images, video or copy effectively communicate what you want to say. All content on your homepage should be simple and align with the main message of your business. Just because you love that photo of your pet turtle doesn’t mean that it needs to be on your homepage. If you really must have your turtle on your site, consider putting it on the About page.

Here are some words to live by when producing homepage content:

  1. Relative: Content that is relative to your brand adds real value and speaks directly to your audience.
  2. Quality: Writing quality content pares down your message to the core and helps establish a direction for your audience.
  3. Engage Educate, Inform: Creating content that engages, educates and informs increases the time spent exploring your website.  Try adding a photo to convey your message.
  4. Measurable:  Measurable content will help determine the effectiveness of your message.

Two:

Proper Navigation
Having clear user paths on your homepage is key to keeping your audience stay engaged for a longer period of time.  Make sure your site visitors can tell what you do, have a clear benefit to keep browsing and where to start.

When thinking about content for your homepage avoid flash banners, animations, popups and any other unnecessary elements that could get in the way of the main goal or slow down your page load time. What you think is important to navigation may differ to what your audience deems as important– build your navigation from your viewers perspective and remember to keep it simple.

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 3.03.27 PM
One:

Clear Design
Consider the design of your homepage as the housing structure of your content, navigation and keywords. Effectively designed homepages serve as a gateway into the rest of your site. The main purpose of design is to capture site visitors’ attention. Your design should structure content in a concise manner that engages the user to act on your message. Good homepage design keeps your audience interested without overwhelming them.

According to Steve Krug in Don’t Make Me Think, good homepage design has four jobs:

  1. Show your audience what they are looking for.
  2. Show your audience more.
  3. Show them where to start.
  4. Establish credibility and trust.

Tackling SEO, Content, Navigation and Design requires some work, but it’ll all be worth it when you see an increase in traffic, clicks and sales. Find out more about how design elements can contribute to your website overall here.