Maximizing Your Homepage's Potential with Key SEO Strategies to Implement First
In this episode of Local SEO Tactics, Jesse Dolan shares valuable insights on optimizing your website's homepage with effective SEO strategies. By highlighting the importance of your website's homepage in attracting organic traffic and retaining visitors, Jesse explains the key SEO tactics that businesses should implement first. From conducting a thorough keyword research to creating compelling H-tags and CTAs, this episode provides a comprehensive guide for businesses looking to enhance their online presence and improve their search engine rankings.
What You'll Learn
- Who should focus on optimizing their website's homepage for SEO and why it's crucial for businesses looking to attract organic traffic
- What are the key SEO strategies to implement on your homepage, including conducting a thorough audit and creating compelling content
- How to leverage these SEO tactics to improve your website's search engine rankings and enhance your online presence.
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Jesse Dolan: About some of the foundational things that do for SEO, keyword research being one of those that's extremely important. And we would not want to modify any page, especially your homepage I should say, without understanding the keywords we're going to be targeting for that page. Now that's underscore and foundational for all pages for SEO.
Welcome back to Local SEO Tactics, where we bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I'm your host, Jesse Dolan. This episode here today, we're going to be talking about applying SEO to your homepage first. Now, that's a little bit of a tongue in cheek title there in statement. Although truthful, I wouldn't say that this is crazy critical for your SEO, and in some cases for us, maybe flies in the face of what we would actually do for a process, but there's a good reason for this.
Now, what do I mean by that though? A lot of times if we're working with a client, maybe they have multiple locations or maybe they have a wide service area, there are some cases where we're going to do on page SEO to maybe one of the inner pages or one of the GBP pages as we'll call it, a page that will be created just to link to your GBP, like your local page.
But what we're talking about here today is not that. What we're talking about here today is applying SEO to your homepage first. Now, some businesses, your homepage may be your primary page. It may be the number one page that ranks. It may be your number one gateway page, which is completely fine. Again, like I said earlier, and maybe some other cases it's not. So if you're a business that your homepage is your main gateway, then great. That's not necessarily a bad thing at all. It doesn't mean you're doing anything wrong.
But the reason we want to talk about this here today for doing the homepage first is because it really sets the stage for what we're going to do on the rest of the website. Whether you're an agency owner, or somebody trying to build a firm, or your marketing manager, or the owner of the company doing this for yourself, you are going to want to make sure your website has a consistent brand look and feel to it.
And really, at the end of the day, even as SEOs, if we'd love our inner pages to rank higher for keywords, the fact of the matter is your homepage is definitely going to rank for things. And even if it doesn't, people will click and go back to your homepage quite often in their journey. And so for us, it's really easy in our process to focus on the homepage as the first thing we do for SEO because of that prominence and what it does for everything else downstream.
So let me get into what I'm talking about and why this matters. So we start by optimizing the homepage. Homepage again, it's your main gateway. It has the curb appeal. It's really the page that's the highlight for your brand and your showcase. It's usually very visual. And at the end of the day, let's just say, look, if you are a marketing manager or maybe in marketing for your company, guess what? Your superiors, the owner of your company, your vendors, service providers, clients, customers, everybody, your homepage is a very, very important page. And they're going to put a lot of energy into it, from reviewing it, from being familiar with what's on it, and things like that.
So we like to focus on the homepage because, just play a little experiment if you ever want to try this. Try developing an inner page, maybe work on something, have somebody take a look at it, give you your feedback and see how often they may click to the homepage and also give you feedback on the homepage. So things like that, we will start with the homepage, get that tuned in, and then use that really as a template of sorts for other pages.
Now, there's going to be elements on your homepage that may not be on other pages, so I'm not talking about an exact template, but really it's going to set the tone for your brand. The rest of the pages should have the same usage of the logo, saying the same kinds of things, fonts, colors, layout design, things like that. The homepage is quite frankly, just the easiest one to focus on for how all that's going to come together. And then you can easily apply these changes to the inner pages further down in your SEO journey without having so much time and energy tied up with the internal or with the client reviews on how things look and feel and sound. So again, we like to really tackle all that right on the homepage right away, so now we know what we're doing in working with the client.
So let's dive into this a little bit.
Hey everyone, just a quick message about our free SEO audit tool on localseotactics.com, and we'll get right back to the show. If you haven't taken advantage of it yet, go on out to localseotactics.com/freeseoaudit or look for the yellow button up in the top right corner. Click that and it's going to take just a couple seconds. You enter in the page that you want to optimize, what you're looking for the audit to score against.
Enter in that page, enter in the keyword you're looking to get optimized for. And enter in your email address, click the button. And it's going to take a few seconds, and then it's going to send you off a PDF report via email. It's a great report. It's going to give you an overall score of some vital SEO areas for that page and for your website at large, even though it's auditing this page. That's going to tell you some of the good things that are happening, some of the bad things that are happening too, and give you basically a checklist of some things that you need to shore up and what you can do to improve your SEO for that page, for that keyword that you're auditing.
Now, you can use this as many times as you want. You can do multiple keywords, multiple pages, multiple keywords on the same page. You can even use this to check against your competitors. If you want to do a little reverse engineering, see how they're scoring for a certain keyword, what they may be doing good that you're not, and some things to improve there. So lots of different ways to use it completely free. Again, go on to localseotactics.com/freeseoaudit, or look for the yellow button in the top right corner of the website.
All right, now here's some of the things we're going to want to make sure we have ready to go, some things that we've already done, and how we're going to approach designing the homepage. First is to make sure you've done keyword research, talked in a previous episode about some of the foundational things to do for SEO keyword research. Being one of those it's extremely important, and we would not want to modify any page, especially your homepage I should say, without understanding the keywords we're going to be targeting for that page. Now, that's underscore and foundational for all pages for SEO. Not just your homepage. Again, the tactics and the steps we're going to go through here, applying to your homepage, you're going to do this on every other page. We're just doing the homepage first, use it as a template and get this process down.
So make sure you have your keywords vetted out and you know exactly what your intent is for the homepage. And sometimes when I talk about intent, a nice story and analogy I like to use with people is wedding band. If you do a Google search for wedding band, there's two different types of results that can show up. One is a live band to play at your wedding, the other is a piece of jewelry, a wedding band. So from the person doing the search, Google of course is going to fine tune that towards your intent for what you've been searching for. Odds are, if I've been looking at a lot of jewelry related stuff, Google's going to pop wedding band to be jewelry for me. If I've been looking at a lot of venues, concerts, musicians, things like that, booking places, wedding band, maybe they're going to show me the band.
So the searcher definitely has a part to play in Google's algorithm. But then as the content provider, the marketing manager, the SEO that's manipulating a website to be found for wedding band, you have to clearly state what your intent is on that page. So if we just identify for the homepage that we're going after wedding band as the keyword, that's great, but that doesn't mean we can just have a bunch of text on there and then just put the word wedding band in and suddenly we'll pop. We have to develop that idea, focus content around that intent.
So again, if we're talking about wedding band, if I want my site to be found for jewelry, we're talking about the homepage, keyword intent, I want to have things about jewelry, talk about jewelry, not just wedding band, but just more broadly contextual about jewelry. And inversely true of course, if I'm trying to be found for a musician, live wedding band, things like that, my homepage is going to have a lot of verbiage that reinforces that intent and that context as well. So that's just the general approach to your page for keywords. Make sure you have that identified and understand what your intent is and how you're going to present that page to be found.
Now, going down the page for other elements you really want to take a look at here is the visual side of things. So from an SEO standpoint, when we talk about the visual elements, we're talking about, what's the name of that file. Does that, whatever your keyword is... Don't just use the default IMG 1, 2, 3, 4.jpeg for the name of your file and upload that to your episode. Don't ever do that. Make sure you're understanding where this image is going to go. It's going to go on our homepage and our homepage is focused on wedding band.
So hopefully the primary image that you're loading in, or maybe it's the only image, whatever, has keyword wedding band in the name of that file somehow. Also for the size of that file, for the loading of that file, for the speed of the website, a lot of in the visual asset part of taking a look at the homepage, and modifying it, and optimizing it, that's going to be a huge part of it. It could be video, it could be audio, it could be just a photo, it could be some animation and some graphics, things like that. It's going to apply to all those. So that's from the SEO side to evaluate it.
Also, you want to evaluate this from the UX or the human being side. Does this image have some relevancy to wedding band. Is it Supportive? They aren't going to be able to read the file name and say, "Oh yeah, there's a direct correlation between this image and what I'm looking for." Us humans don't see that, that's for Google and for the bots. But does it show that you're in the right place? Does it have that connection to the user? Is it on brand? What's the aesthetic? Does it look good? Does it seem to fit the same mood? Things like that are very important because again, the homepage, we're talking about this definitely from an SEO standpoint, but then also from a usability in a brand standpoint. How does it look? The visual elements are a huge part of that.
Another part that we want to look at here is the use of your H tags or headlines on your page. This is something, we've talked about this in a number of episodes. I've got one earmarked here, episode 170 where we talk about evaluating your H tags. This is an area we find on websites extremely common that they're not using headlines properly. They're usually using them just for more of the visual element. They want this title to be really big and bold, so they'll pick an H1 be a headline one tag. And ideally, from an SEO standpoint, I wouldn't say it's a hard and fast rule, but generally accept the principle or our concept here is that you want your H1 at the top of the page and for it to contain your keyword or very close phrase related to your keyword. And you only have one primary headline on the page.
We like to say that we talk about this like the constrict of a newspaper or a magazine. You've got the main headline at the top, some supporting graphics and text underneath it, and then maybe sub-headlines about more related contextual details. And then again, cascading down from there, content and pictures supporting the sub-headlines, so on and so forth. So for us, a website is going to have one H1, and then maybe a couple H2s and a couple H3s being headline twos and headline threes or sub-headlines, going down the page from there.
So you're going to want to evaluate again, after you look at it visually. How are your headlines being used? You can have large font on the page, but it's not using the H tags, the headline tags. That's a specific application of formatting that you're going to be using in your website editor, not just making the font big, but you're applying a tag to it that says, "This is a headline." Now that, like I said, can represent on the page to us humans as a certain color, certain size, and how the text looks. But for Google and the bots that read it in the background, you are clearly calling out that this is the headline of the page or this is a sub-headline further down the page.
And that's important because Google, when the bots, they're reading all this, they're parsing it out as text. So to be able to know that this is the headline, not just some random text, random sentence on a page is extremely important for them. And if you think about that logic, that's where the value of those headlines from an SEO standpoint is clear as day. So we're going to want to make sure we're looking at those headlines and that we're using them properly, where we should use them, how we should use them, and that we're also incorporating our keywords and related keywords into those headlines. And like I said, cascading them down the page.
In that same vein, another thing we're going to want to look at on the homepage here is how we use the rest of the text on the page in concert with our keyword. Again, if we're talking about wedding bands, I'm going to want to make sure I'm talking about wedding bands on the page multiple times or different ways to phrase it at least. And then just like if you think about when Google's reading the content on the page and we're applying a piece of code or a little tag that says, "This is a headline," that makes it special. It's not just a regular old font, or a regular old sentence, or word on the page. It's special, it's a headline.
You also want to do that for your keyword with making it bold, making it italicized, making it underlined, or putting it in a bullet point. From a formatting standpoint, what can make it special, not just regular text, regular font? I just rattled off a few of the primary ones, but things like that. What else can you do to highlight? I should say air quotes, not actually highlight as a formatting, but what can you do to highlight or make your keywords stand out? You're going to want to apply that formatting to the text on the page.
Now again, back to the human side, this has to look good. It has to read good. So there's a balancing act there of making sure you're calling out to Google and the bots what's special on this page. But then for the human beings, they have to be able to read it, because if they go to your page and they just back right out and go to Google and click on the next one, it doesn't matter how good your SEO was, if it's not good content for human beings. we're not going to consume it and Google knows that, and that's going to hurt you.
So that's the visual from the imagery standpoint. Now, the text, the headlines, how that all flows together. You're going to want to make sure you're going through the page with an eye towards all that. A couple other elements here to wrap it up that you're going to want to pay attention to on the homepage is mobile friendliness. I hope nowadays, that's just a default for everybody, but we're still encountering every week new websites that are either out of date, maybe it's 5, 10, 15 years old or whatever it is. They're still not a full conversion where all websites are mobile friendly yet. So definitely make sure when you're looking at your homepage, modifying your homepage...
Again, we're not talking about that it has to be redesigned. This conversation, this is about SEO. This is not about web design, even though we've talked about design, and talked about human beings and the visual parts quite a bit, it's still rooted in SEO. And when I say mobile friendly, same thing there. I do mean it from a design standpoint, which I'll touch on here in a second a little bit more. But this is important for Google and for the bots, for SEO reasons, more and more searches get done on mobile devices. Everybody knows that and has heard that. So Google has came out and said, there's only three things that they've said are direct ranking factors, mobile friendliness, speed, and security. Make sure your website's mobile friendly.
So with respect to the design of your website visually, from a mobile standpoint as well, this is a trick that we've covered on other episodes. Again, go to localseotactics.com, do a search for keywords, and you'll pull up a bunch of episodes related to the topics. I'm not going to take a minute here and delay everybody while I try to pull up which episodes here. I should have done that maybe on the front side. But we do have some episodes where we talk about how to design the website for mobile functionality, how to make sure you, you're evaluating your website from a mobile design perspective, which is something I'm going to underscore here.
As designers, developers, SEOs, we're often working on websites on our laptop, on our desktop, multiple screens, big screens, not on our phones. Make sure you're taking the time to consume, review, use your website, and in this case, our homepage that we're working on a mobile device, that's where the majority of your users are probably accessing your content. So if you're designing it on desktop, that's great. It's easier to do, but make sure you're testing it and looking at it on mobile device just like your customers are going to. Google wants to see that for SEO reasons, for accessibility reasons. But then from the client side, you want to make sure again, that it actually looks good. It's not just that it passes the test, that it's mobile friendly, but that it actually is functional. And we actually like to say design it for mobile first and then it will also look good on desktop if it's a responsive theme.
But definitely run your website through some speed test tools. A lot of these tools, you can just do a Google search that will be able to tell you what is slowing your site down. You're going to address those. These areas here, if your speed, outside of things that are on that page from an image standpoint, this is usually something that might impact your website as a whole if you do that speed test, by the way.
And then last but not least here, secure website. And this like a lot of the things that I've talked about here today does have two branches to it. So secure means that your hosting is secure. You're using HTTPS security in your web browser. You might have a little lock, maybe it's a green bar at the top highlighted in green in the address bar. Most sites today are secure, most web service, web hosting service providers offer SSL hosting. If you're looking at your website right now and you don't see the little lockbox, you don't see anything about security, maybe you do need to address that.
But then the other side for security or the second thing to look at, again on your homepage, but really any page, is are... I'm going to say that. I'm just going to run with that. That's great English. The other thing on your homepage is, are there any insecure links? So that could be an internal link. Maybe you're telling people click here, and they're going to go to your quote page, or a service page, or a product page.
Or maybe you're linking to an external resource, "Find more on usda.gov," or whatever. If the links on your page are insecure, that's going to be a warning sign to Google as well. It might look like you're trying to do some a phishing scam or redirecting people somewhere, something shady. Check out to your site for those. You can do that just by looking at the source code. You can do that by checking out the links themselves in whatever editor you're using. There's multiple ways to go about that too, but don't sleep on that. That can be the difference between just typing in a link HTTP or just HTTPS, Just forgetting that S can cause you a lot of problems. And then it looks like you're linking to insecure content from your homepage or any other page. And yeah, that's going to be a big red flag to Google as well.
So there you go. At the end of the day, this is where you're probably going to start. There could be some cases, again, like I said, on the front side where you start somewhere else on your website. But for us, modifying the homepage, optimizing the homepage, it's always a great place to start. It gets everybody that's involved in the process assembled. It takes care of your main entry page, your main flagship page on your website with all the latest and greatest features and updates.
And we do find that when we're implementing SEO for clients, that there are going to be some changes to the aesthetic, to the design, things like that just by the nature of changing the pages. And again, leveraging the homepage is the first one we do this on, it sets the tone for what would the client do type conversations. You don't have to get every little bit approved on the inner pages as you go forward because you've established the guidelines and what's on brand with the homepage. And it speeds the entire process up for your first stages of SEO and going through all the additional content for the other pages on the website.
So there you go. Hopefully that gives you a little bit of a roadmap on maybe how to approach your homepage. And you can apply this to all pages on the website, but the point here is that the homepage is a great place to start for a lot of reasons.
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