Home Page Optimization: How to get a customer in 7 seconds
There’s only one chance at making a good first impression. That’s why your home page is, by far, the most important page on your entire website. Optimizing your home page is not just about SEO, but it is also about optimizing your most critical landing pages for conversions.
Most people don’t realize that the ultimate common purpose of a website’s home page is to gain interest and establish credibility. It is NOT to try to sell everything under the sun on the first page they get to. It is NOT to present every single possible important fact across a lengthy home page.
If the first encounter with a website doesn’t have a clear message and create positive feelings of a match to what they are looking for, the visitor will be lost forever. Producing a favorable impression and evoking strong visitor trust within the first few seconds leads to more clickthroughs, which leads to more sales, which leads to better SEO ranking.
How do you measure how successful your home page is? Look at your conversion rate. If you are not tracking Goals in Analytics yet, that is the first step.
To determine the effectiveness of your home page take a few minutes and ask yourself the following two questions.
1. Is the purpose of your website reflected on the home page? It is time to step back and look at your website from the perspective of a first time user. Does your landing page clearly communicate what products and services you offer? It is a good idea to conduct a small marketing research and ask non-related people for their opinion on the purpose of the site. If their answers surprise you, it means you are doing something wrong. Start by setting clear goals and objectives and then transform them into an attractive selling message using the language appropriate for your target customer. Use reassurance logos, testimonials and privacy statements to build trust and confidence.
2. Is your home page consistent with the nature of your business and target customer? The copy and design of your home page should clearly communicate what your product is, reflect the image of your brand and your target customer. A website selling software to retail stores has to use a different approach from the one selling software to technical companies. Sounds like a given but you will be surprised how many websites totally ignore this aspect of design. Do competitive research and find out what your target customer is expecting to see.
3. How strong is your call-to-action? You may have a website far superior than your competitors but if you do not clearly indicate what action you want people to take, you just lost the most important battle. Having a powerful (not overpowering) call-to-action always results in better ranking and higher conversions. A great call-to-action is:
a. placed in the most visible part of the home page.
b. offers different options from mild to more aggressive(ex.: e-mail us, live chat, request a call back, call now, get a price quote etc)
c. tested regularly for maximum conversions
IMPORTANT: Always encourage visitors to leave contact information. Even if it doesn’t immediately result into sales, capturing customer information leaves a room for further interaction.
4. Are you tracking your goals and objectives? Implementing Google Analytics will help you to monitor the effectiveness of your webpage and allows you react promptly. Keep in mind that making drastic and sporadic changes over a short period of time can cause your ranking to bounce back. To achieve optimum results, changes have to be gradual and well thought out.
5. What is your competition doing? Learn at competitors’ expense! You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. See why your competition is successful and learn from it. It is always a smart move to research your competitors’ websites for ideas of what works and what doesn’t. Keep in mind that blunt plagiarism is a terrible idea for a lot of reasons. To outsmart your competition you need to take a creative idea and raise it to a new level by adapting it to the specific needs of your website.
6. Does your website work properly? Functionality is the key. There is nothing more repelling and damaging to your site reputation than broken pages. The website needs to be tested in different browsers on both big and small resolution screens.
7. How long does it take to load? There is no widely accepted benchmark for page loading. My rule of thumb is that you have 2 seconds for the page to load and 5 seconds to sell a prospect. Therefore to maximize sales you should give yourself maximum selling time.
8. Do you have enough copy on your homepage? Give search engines something to read. Many website try to hide the scarcity of written text behind the abundance of images and “cool” graphics which obviously doesn’t help the ranking. Search engine heavily rely on copy in determining the popularity and relevance of your site. To learn more about the role of copy for seo purposes, check out my upcoming blog “Content: the Key to Popularity and Relevance”
9. Is the use of multimedia components justified? Remember how you feel when you go to a website searching for a product and as a result are sentenced to watching minute-long intros and animations? Most web design firms try hard to outperform the competition by using elaborate layouts and special effects Here is the thing. Static sites with conventional layouts exist for a reason. Unless done skillfully and in moderation, the use of macromedia flash adds very little to the quality of the webpage and has a zero contribution to SEO. What it does, it significantly increases your initial costs and causes annoyance among visitors. The same rule applies to video and audio components.
These questions cover the basics of home page optimization. If you are not happy with your answers, it means your website needs some work. One of the first steps can be getting a home page analysis from a professional seo company. Most of the good ones, will offer this analysis as well as an action plan absolutely free. Shop around because working with knowledgeable people will enable you to find the solution that is right for you.
Remember the websites which look effortless are the ones that had a lot of effort put in. Good Luck!
Popularity: 47% [?]