How to Create a Successful Homepage
There are several significant steps to obtaining a website that successfully increases your sales. Possibly the most important step - but also the most challenging - is getting your website to appear early on Google’s search engine result pages for specific search terms.
You need to persuade users to click your page, stay on your website, and navigate their way around it. Ultimately you want them to buy a product, sign up, contact you, or maybe visit your store.
This is the quest of every website-owner, but how do you make it happen? Before you think about the world of link-building, pay-per-click advertising, and analytics, you need to analyse your website from the perspective of a user (or possible customer).
Would you be inclined to stay on the website, look around, and trust the site enough to purchase from it? How can you make your website more “user-friendly”? The best way to understand how you can improve your website is to look at an example. Here is an example of an e-commerce website that sells fireplaces and how it could be changed to improve its Google ranking:
Hedge End Fireplaces
Hedge End Fireplaces sell fireplaces made of stone or marble, as well as gas fires, electric fires, and stoves. According to the website they have a range of over 400 fireplaces available and they provide several services such as chimney maintenance and full installations.
Reading about them suggests that they are a business of very high quality. At the moment though, this is not reflected in their website.
Despite their wide range of services and their 25 years’ worth of experience, the website currently ranks on page 3 for “fireplaces”. In other words it is the 302ndresult to show up in Google.
Unfortunately 68% of users select a result on Google’s very first results page which means that ranking any further down excludes a large proportion of your customer base. So how could they alter their website to improve the company’s rankings?
Here is their homepage:
As I’m sure you know the homepage is the most important page on your website. Sometimes your customers might enter your site via a link to a different page but it is likely that most of your branded organic traffic will initially be sent to your homepage before anything else. Ideally you want your customer to do the following:
Visit your website
Read through the homepage
Browse different pages
Buy / order something / contact you
Follow your social media pages
Become a recurring customer.
A “bounce rate” means the percentage of visitors who click onto your webpage and then leave the website completely (rather than proceeding to a different page on the site). The bounce rate of your homepage is an accurate measurement of how effective it is. If you have a high bounce rate it means that a large proportion of the people who visit your website immediately click away from it. If this is happening then it is vital that you work on your homepage to encourage users to stay.
If you clicked on the webpage above how long do you think you would stay on it? Not long I imagine, so how could we improve it?
When users browse online they want to know almost immediately if your website has something useful for them.
It is important that each webpage contains at least 250 words for Google to crawl. However in the example above the bullet points each contain a large chunk of writing which is difficult to scan quickly.
Instead, the text should contain around seven bullet points of 1-2 lines each. It should outline the products and services that the company provide. Putting a space between each bullet point would break the text into bitesize pieces that are easier for the user to digest.
The picture helps to make the page more visually appealing but a white background would probably look more attractive than the yellow.
Many websites suffer because their text contains a lot of errors. The example above has clearly been read through but it is remarkable how often websites contain grammatical errors, or even repeat themselves on the same page.
Read through your content properly and ask for a second opinion from a member of your target audience to ensure that everything makes sense.
As well as the homepage, the website would need to expand on word count throughout, ensuring that each page has its own topic and contains well-written, useful content.
It is important that a website is clear and easy to follow. Organise all your information into a simple structure. The most effective way to do this is to simply add tabs to the top of the web page.
The tabs should be self-explanatory and if necessary contain drop-down menus. For example, this website could have tabs for “Stoves”, “in-set fireplaces”, “wall mounted fireplaces”, etc to direct users more clearly.
Importantly, the website is also missing a “Site Map”. This tab is usually found in the footer and can be clicked to view the URLs of all the pages. This allows users to find a particular page more easily but its main purpose is to assist the Google spider.
If Google crawls a website and initially misses a page, it is likely to pick up that page when it crawls your XML site map which should be submitted to Google via Webmaster Tools.
One of the elements that suggest this is quite an old website is that there are no social media icons evident anywhere. Facebook and Twitter icons should be present on your homepage and ideally on the sidebar, header or footer.
If your company is on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ or any other social sites then add those icons too. If you have not yet set up social media pages then this is a must so do it as soon as you can.
Social media is the easiest way to truly connect with your audience and to gain a loyal following. Update your social media as frequently as possible; let everybody know when you have new products available, any changes to your business, if you’re expanding, etc.
If you specialise in a particular trade then share everything new that you learn. E.g. if you sell tools think about what information or developments engineers would find useful and tweet about them.
Each time you create a new webpage or blog publicise it through social media; this helps you build a solid following who will return to your website in future.
The example above does not include a Blog or News Page. A news page is a really useful way to keep your content fresh and updated. If you have new content Google has new pages to crawl which will mean they may come back to your site sooner.
Update the blog at least once a month, ideally 2-4 times to keep content fresh. Think about what is topical; what are people in your sector going to be searching this month? Try to write something relevant to that.
So What Does All This Mean?
As you can see there are plenty of alterations that can be made to this homepage that will help the website, and these could help yours as well. If you think that your website needs a modern touch, or if you are struggling to get the amount of traffic that you want, why not hire somebody else to do the hard work for you?
Here at ISD we can focus on building your content, links, and social media following to gain a better position on Google and ultimately increase your customer base. Contact us to find out more.