What does it mean to have a well-optimized homepage? In plain English, it means that you’ve done everything you can to create a welcoming space for your website visitors that initiates them into the sales process.
Your homepage gets one chance to make a first impression
Your website’s homepage is your main entrance. It must accurately reflect your website and your value proposition. Your company’s uniqueness must shine through. With only eight seconds (or less) to grab visitors’ attention, every second counts. If they never make it past the front door, they aren’t likely to come back. Fortunately, whether you are planning a new website or evaluating an existing one, these eight tips will help you optimize your homepage.
1. Start with customer knowledge -- don’t skip this step!
How well do you understand the wants and needs of your target buyer? Even a well-designed website will fail if it doesn’t meet the needs of its target audience. Customer intelligence must guide homepage design.
- Who is your audience?
- What’s the ONE thing you want first-time visitors to remember if they were to forget everything else?
- What do you want your visitors to think/feel/do?
- What is the appropriate next step they should take?
Keep in mind that your visitors will reach your website in various stages of the buyers journey. Some may be ready to make a decision today. Others might be just beginning to understand their challenges and need more information to help them in their early stage education process.
2. Gently direct the buyer’s journey
Use what you know about your ideal buyer(s) to create a space that meets each visitor’s needs, every step of the way.
- Draw them in with relevant content in an easy-to-navigate environment.
- Validate your expertise by displaying awards, accreditations, testimonials, etc.
- Encourage a positive decision.
3. Present a clear brand and logical layout
Your visitors will come to your website with preset expectations about how it should be organized, based on their experience with other websites. Choose a layout that maximizes the prime real estate that appears first. Make sure your brand’s message is front and center. Compel your visitor to venture beyond the fold. Key elements include
- Prominent logo, generally in the top right corner.
- Descriptive title and/or tag line that precisely reflects your business and value proposition.
- Phone number in the top left corner that stands out and can be tapped to call on mobile devices.
- Easy to navigate menu structure. Typically this is a horizontal menu near the top of your home page. The top level menu should clearly segment your website.
- Contact details—request a call, how to contact you—should be visible in header.
- Buttons to follow and share your social media channels. Place these in the footer. The last thing you want is to lose a visitor to the distracting world of Facebook.
4. Include only inviting, relevant content
Choosing the all-important content for your homepage can feel overwhelming. Reflecting on your business purpose will guide you. Why are you in business? What do you do well? What’s your image of difference (unique selling point) over your competition? Never disparage your competitor. Always focus on your strengths.
Leverage your business plan and think like a journalist. Your homepage should respect your visitors’ time by quickly answering basic questions they may have, such as
- Who are you?
- What do you bring to my party?
- Why should I choose you?
- How do you measure success?
- Where can I find more information?
Other content essentials include
- Warm, conversational tone with simple, clear, and concise language. Communicate with people, not robots.
- Short sentences for scannability. Visitors tend to skim online content.
- Delighted customers’ quotes or links to short videos. Testimonials sell.
- Images speak volumes. They add power to your story and are often the most important content on your homepage (next to your phone number). Use descriptive file names and alt text to boost search engine recognition and to assist screen readers (images named NK00345 mean nothing to Google).
5. Create a fast environment with easy navigation and a responsive design
Your design must appeal to a variety of visitors from all device types and should include
- Logical roadmap.
- Menu headers. Use 5-6 sequenced for impact—the first and the last options will be remembered.
- Visually appeal. Simple, clear, consistent. Use fonts, font sizes, and color schemes that will extend beyond your home page. White space is good!
- Responsive, device-friendly features that cater to mobile and tablet users such as auto screen size adaption, click-to-call phone number, map, buttons that quickly segment visitors and provide a clear path to common next steps. Mobile SEO focuses on performance (speed) and usability (experience). If in doubt, use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to check your site.
6. Drive action with specific calls to action (CTAs)
CTAs are use to guide visitors to take the next step. Build customer relationships with homepage elements that
- Engage visitors at every stage of the buying process
- Awareness—download an article or white paper
- Consideration—hone in on potential solutions with “Request a Call” or “Request a Demo”
- Decision—next steps.
- Nurture until the time is right. Before a visitor exits your homepage, make it easy to sign up for your newsletter or follow you on social media.
7. Avoid common mistakes – clutter and distraction
- Use descriptive, hyperlinked keywords. Avoid “click here.”
- Nix unneeded menus, drop downs, long descriptions, or big images that can slow your site and drive off visitors.
- Always consider your mobile audience when creating or adding content. More than half of your visitors will access your site from a mobile device. You’ll lose them with bloat.
- Keep things simple. Too many options or too much movement may distract. For instance, Yoast cites studies that show static pictures to be more appealing than revolving banners or sliders.
- Out-of-date content. Old information is irrelevant and leaves a bad impression.
8. Leave an impression
Your website needs to be visually attractive. Great images are essential. Strive to be the expert to which all others will be compared. Using homepage optimization best practices to showcase your image of difference is a winning combination.
You know the difference. Your customers do too.
Think about the last time you called a company and had a subpar experience. How did that change your impression of the business? How likely will you be to recommend their services to others? The same principles that create a good customer experience over the phone or in person apply to your digital presence, starting with your homepage.
A great homepage is the first step in designing a powerful website that is a true lead generation machine.
Contact WSI Connect today if you need any help with optimizing your homepage.