Why Your Homepage May Serve a Different Function Than You’d Think
Bob, Jesse and Sue answer a listener question regarding the purpose of the homepage for your business’s website. Should you worry about the ranking of your homepage? Should you address all of your services on your homepage? Bob, Jesse and Sue give you these answers and more to help you hone the focus of your web presence to improve not only your SEO but the user experience of your web visitors.
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What you’ll learn
- What purpose your homepage ideally serves.
- Why your homepage may not be the ideal page to worry about ranking for SEO.
- How to focus your homepage for the best results.
Transcript For What is the Function of Your Homepage? – 137;
Jesse Dolan: Your inner pages should be your most SEO-ed quote unquote pages. Whereas your homepage should be your slickest page. Feels the best. It looks the best and is really that inviting gateway.
Welcome back to Local SEO Tactics, where we bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I’m Jesse Dolan, here again with Bob Brennan, Sue Ginsburg, answering all the SEO questions that you all are throwing at us. Sometimes from listeners, sometimes from clients and Sue, what have we got going on here today for this episode?
Sue Ginsburg: Today’s question comes from a listener close to home for me, or close to the origins of home, Long Island. Thank you, Dimitrius, from Montauk, Long Island. Question is what is the function of the homepage? Is it for branding? Is it for SEO? Is it for call to action? What is the best way to set up your homepage so that it works the best to optimize your homepage to get found.
Quote of the day today is just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do, doesn’t mean it’s useless. And that is a quote from Thomas Edison, which is great, because think of all the things that he may have thought were useless and found another way to use, look at it, use it, whatever. So I really like that.
Bob Brennan: I’m going to tell that one to my wife when she sees me on the couch and says you’re useless.
Sue Ginsburg: I like it. It’s good. Works well.
Well, we speak to a lot of business owners who want a review of their websites to see how it can be improved for SEO. How can their website work harder for them to be found online? They tell us their keywords and inevitably their primary keywords are nowhere to be found on the website. Case in point of this saying, the website may not be doing what you planned it to do, but that doesn’t mean that it’s useless. It just needs SEO experts to do their magic on it so you can rank higher and be found in searches for the keywords that will impact your leads the most.
I totally understand how this is more common than anyone would think. Until I learned some of these tips and tricks for getting found online and attracting more leads, I wasn’t counting keywords on each page either. Does this sound familiar to any of you business owners listening? Totally understandable. Of course, you want to show up more in searches for your services. That’s where most business comes from these days. Just like we would never expect us to run your business as well as you do. We don’t expect a business owner to know SEO as well as we do. So I think this question is on many business owners’ minds. So let’s hear what Jesse and Bob have to say about this. If we can all get a little smarter and tell us about the purpose of the homepage or purposes and where it fits into SEO.
Jesse Dolan: I’ll probably start, Bob, from a technical perspective. And Sue, I like your quote because I think that actually it’s fitting for the homepage. What I’m going to say here, maybe has a connotation that the homepage isn’t important or that it’s useless to stretch towards that end, but it’s not. And what I mean by that is first and foremost, the thing I want to say to that, Sue, is you don’t really want your homepage ranking over your inner pages and with all things SEO, there’s a it depends on that.
So if you have multiple services, multiple products as a business, I’m talking to you in that context, that your homepage shouldn’t be the thing ranking, or at least be the primary organic traffic source for your website. What we’re going to want is your inner pages. Again, if you’re auto repair, if somebody’s searching for radiator repair Minneapolis, I want them going to your radiator repair page, specifically, not your homepage. Your homepage may have some other call to action or some main thing that’s not radiator. And we want you to meet that radiator information, radiator repair information. So we don’t want your homepage ranking. We want your radiator repair page ranking. Same with your oil change page, with your break job page, with your exhaust page, et cetera.
If you’re looking at your Google analytics, which hopefully you have set up or some kind of analytics for your website, if you go in, just look at your organic traffic, you can quickly see for your own website, what is your primary sources. Where is it coming from? Is all my traffic coming in organically through my homepage or from my inner pages. And again, when I say inner pages, I mean those non-home pages, your landing pages, your individual service pages, things like that.
One of the main reasons for that, aside from that conversion thing I just said, seeing the radiator page, knowing I’m on the right spot. It’s also that your homepage from an SEO perspective can’t do everything. When we look at a page from an SEO perspective, for architecture, you’ve got certain core elements like your page title, which is what shows up in SERP, in the search engine results page in Google. That’s what we all read. That’s the main headline we click on if we’re picking a result to navigate to. You only have so many words you can put in that. And if you have three, six, ten different products or services you sell, you just can’t put them all in there on that one page title. The same with once you get to your homepage, your main headline. You can’t talk about everything in the headline.
I forget the quote, but you’d be generally good at everything and then you’d be a master at nothing. When we talk SEO, we’re ranking pages, not websites. And so each individual page really has to be a master about the thing that you want it to be ranked for primarily. And when you get things that just aren’t closely related. Don’t get me wrong, breaks, oil, radiator, they’re all related to auto repair, but they’re not subsets of each other. When you’re talking about break jobs, there’s disc, there’s drum, there’s different things. Rotors, pads. There’s a subset within breaks that are more specific and aren’t going to apply to radiator or oil changes.
And so with your website, you want to have those individual pages. You want to have SEO on those pages about those particular topics. And then those things are going to rank and hopefully convert real good. You just can’t do all that with your homepage. Your homepage is going to be very general if you talk about all these things and try to rank it for everything. So that’s my take on it, Sue. I think your homepage is good. And I’ll let Bob speak to a little bit more about maybe the branding, call to action. It’s still a main gateway. It’s going to be a main traffic source of your website, but from a SEO perspective, I don’t want them to see it as your main driver of traffic. I want your landing pages to be those main gateways.
So again, within those, people are going to go back to your homepage. So you’re definitely going to put some energy into it. Bob, I’ll throw it over to you. If you want to talk a little bit about, again that branding, that conversion side and some things that your homepage is good for from a visual and conversion perspective.
Bob Brennan: Yes. My two cents, I think if you go back and you look at some people’s websites and this is interesting, there’s a tool out there called what, the way back machine?
Jesse Dolan: Yes. You mean that archive way back machine?
Bob Brennan: Yes. And you go back and you can look at whether it’s your industry or your competitors or even your own site. We try to pile all this information on that homepage and it still goes on today. It’s tough, the bigger the organization, you want to pile as much stuff on there as you can. So it does act as a gateway. But to me, I look at it as a conversion tool where you’ve got a very limited time and space to answer the questions that your prospects might be asking. And I look at it as, what are the, let’s say the most common four to six questions that your customers are asking you on a day to day basis, that that page can answer or help them resolve without getting too complex? And it could be things as simple as, are you authorized in this deal and this brand of product.
But after that I think it acts as a somewhat of a conversion tool. Because if you think about your homepage, it’s oftentimes the landing page for your URL for your business card and all your other marketing collateral. So when they land on that, it’s really got to convert. It’s got to speak to the questions that they ask in the sales process. And then the other part in my mind, just making some notes here, and this might be something that I examine, is what are the three unspoken questions that your customers are maybe not asking you directly, but they want to know the answers to? And can you somehow convey that?
How long have you been doing plumbing? Are you a licensed plumber? I don’t know. Do you have any warrants against you? I don’t know, but that’s going to take some deep thought, some deep dive, maybe even depending on how much you want to invest in that, a third party to ask certain questions and they could go so far as to say, what are the unspoken questions that you’re not wanting to come out directly and ask, but you want to know? Does that make sense?
Jesse Dolan: It’s really focused on conversion. It’s edifications, trophies, awards, anything that convinces people that we’re good. You can trust us. This is our brand. We’re strong. Again, the sentiment here is you’re not using your homepage necessarily for SEO and ranking. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re going to have a page, choose your keywords appropriately and everything else, but don’t have your homepage try to be ranked and showing and talking about all the products and services you have. To your point, Bob, make it more of that trust gateway, that conversion gateway of your business card, maybe from your Facebook page, your LinkedIn page, whatever. People going into your homepage are probably directly going there. And what impression do you want to make with that?
Bob Brennan: Yes. Personal testimonies, things like that, just to get them to maybe dig in further into the website, but you’ve got a finite period of time and you better be effective at answering the most relevant questions. And then having one or two disruptive pieces of information there. Wow, these guys, I got to call them.
Sue Ginsburg: Bob, I love your preemptive thinking saying, what questions can I answer that people who are coming to the homepage want to know the most? And that’s great. That’s a user friendly website, if you ask me.
Bob Brennan: Yes. And I think if you can dig deeper and speak to and maybe they’re not in what order. And that’s where you can do a little bit of AB testing, but which ones have the most weight and cache in terms of order or even boldness and whatever. 20 years in business and top picks for this city’s choice of plumbers and everything else that goes with it. Or respond in half hour or 20% off your bill. Whatever means that customers are talking to you about and they’ll tell you. You just got to listen to it and have your team listen to it and say, they really didn’t expect us to be out here this quick. Or they really appreciated the fact we took our shoes off before we came in the home and all these subtle things that you’ve got to get that inside perception out so people can see that and experience that in a heartbeat and say I’ve got a lot of choices to make. These guys seem to tick all the boxes. I’m going to call them first. It’s just my two cents.
Jesse Dolan: You mentioned something earlier about, I think is worth expanding on a little bit quick. I’m paraphrasing what you said, but basically the point is your homepage is also a jump off point. Again, if you have five services, you should have a page for each service and that’s what we want ranked specifically for those keywords. But when people are on your homepage, you still want to provide them the navigation, whether it’s a button or basically sections. If you’ve got five services, there should be a quick section on each of those services on your homepage. It’s probably not going to rank for any of those or at least that’s not necessarily the intent, but you want them to be able to jump to the thing that they’re looking for, make that clear and just have your homepage be not only this edification type page, but also a jump off point to get to where they want to go.
I think that’s extremely important too. And I wanted to say that, because I didn’t want people to think and I’m saying you want to rank your individual pages. Well, your homepage should still be the showcase for you as a business and what you have to offer. Just don’t expect it to rank and put a lot of keyword emphasis in all these things, because it’s not going to rank for all of them, if any of them. But it still needs to speak to them when people, human beings are actually on the page.
Bob Brennan: Yes. And it’s the starting point for all your other marketing collateral that people are going to show up off your business card or off your billboard or whatever marketing direction that you’re going to get.
Jesse Dolan: And I think back to Sue’s original question again from a SEO perspective, it’s important, but your inner pages should be your most SEO-ed quote unquote pages. Whereas your homepage should be your slickest page. Feels the best. It looks the best and is really that inviting gateway to take that next step towards an individual page.
Bob Brennan: Yes. If people are typing in hot water heater repair or replacement, they shouldn’t be showing up on your homepage. They should be showing up on your hot water, because that’s got to speak to and convert them. Heck yes, this is exactly what I need versus I really want to find out about Bob and his 20 years in plumbing and his cool shop dog, Skippy. It’s I need my stupid hot water heater replaced. That’s where they need to land.
But all the other stuff, if they want to find out about Bob and his dog and whatever else, it’s great. But you get the idea, whether it’s unclogging a pipe or whatever the case is, you need to land on that. People that are doing the deeper dive and say, Hey, I’m building a home, I need a plumber. I want to find out about these guys. You know what I mean? That’s where I think that that effort has to be put in.
Jesse Dolan: Let me throw one more asterisk on there as you’re saying that. I meant to mention this earlier and I completely spaced out on it. If you are a single service or maybe it’s not even a service in that nature, but more like your brand, this is the one thing we do or one thing we offer, then this is different. Because then your homepage is everything. All the other pages really support the homepage with more information or backup type stuff. Like Uber. If I’m searching for Uber, their homepage is where I’m going to land.
So there is the things that I was talking about at least from an SEO perspective, we’re in the context of multiple services, multiple landing pages, unique pages, specific silos, things like that. But if you are much more of a one trick pony or laser focused on a certain thing, then your homepage becomes your most important page. Not only for all the things that you’re mentioning, Bob, but also all your eggs go into that for the SEO as well.
Sue Ginsburg: Wow. I think something that you bring up leads me to a little different perspective on this. A lot of people who are coming into your website on a specific page based on what they searched, will see, yes, you do what I searched for and want you to do and then go to the homepage. So the homepage may not really be the homepage or be where they first land. Then they want to know who is this guy or who is this business? Are they legit? Are they experts in what I do? After they see that you do what I just searched for and want you to do. That’s really interesting insight, I think, to think about your website that way.
Jesse Dolan: Which again, I think underscores what you’re talking about. It needs to be confidence building in CTA. Because in your example, Sue, if they’re going over there, they’re wanting more confidence. All right, this was cool. They do water heaters. Let me learn more about them. Let me click on the homepage. All right. Well, great. Double-sided, hopefully for everybody listening, information about your homepage.
It’s definitely multi-faceted and like I said earlier too, I just want to remind everybody, go to Google analytics, check out your organic traffic sources. You’re going to learn a lot from it. One thing is do some checks to see what’s ranking, but then check to see where people are actually coming into your website. And to the point you were just making, Sue, when we were talking there, you can also use Google analytics to see the path. If people are going to your water heater page, from there, what are they doing? Wow, look, 80% click back to the homepage. Just get inside that psychology and that flow. And that’s going to help dictate what is on these pages and how you’re using them.
Sue Ginsburg: That’s great. Anything else you want to add, Bob?
Bob Brennan: No. That’s it.
Sue Ginsburg: That’s great. Okay. All you listeners, if you remember one thing and one thing only, remember that the homepage has many functions. It’s a gateway to your website. Think of it as a gateway to your website. So it needs to engage visitors so they want to see more. Think about if it’s not the first page they see on your website when you’re designing it and figuring out what content you want to put on there. It’s not always where you want to direct your visitors, but inevitably they will be there at some point. So think about your homepage in a little bit of a different context. And I think that that’ll help you have better website.
Jesse Dolan: All right. Hopefully that helps you guys out. Actually, Sue, I’m sorry. Did you have anything else to say? I feel like I’m cutting you off.
Sue Ginsburg: Quote of the day again. Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do, doesn’t mean it’s useless. Thank you, Thomas A Edison.
Jesse Dolan: Yes. Forget the number. How many filaments did he go through trying to invent the light bulb? You say that and I’m just thinking about that story. I know it wasn’t into the thousands. It was into the high hundreds. I know it was a crap ton. And found some uses for a lot of those things. Not in the light bulb though. In addition to continuing the effort to get to the one that worked, learned a lot of things along the way too.
Bob Brennan: Yes. I think I’m going to print that out, Sue, and tuck it underneath the cushion of the couch just ready to go. When certain accusations come up, I’m just going to pull that out and just hand it out. There you go.
Sue Ginsburg: Maybe you can get it a little audio of Thomas Edison’s voice saying it.
Jesse Dolan: Laminate it, put it in the wallet, whatever. I see where you’re going with this, Bob. I can see all the uses.
All right. Hopefully that helps you guys out listening, not only from the SEO perspective, but again, just challenging you to think of about why people are going to your homepage. Not just from a ranking factor, but just the psychology of it and check into it, check the analytics, put yourself in their shoes, put yourself in the other side of the keyboard. And make some changes.
If that helped you out, great. If you have a question on this topic, let us know. If you have a question on anything else SEO related, website related, things like that, that you think we can answer and help you out with and everybody else, please let us know. Go on out to localSEOtactics.com, scroll down to the bottom, click the button for submit a question, type it in or call it in. If you do call it in, we’ll use the audio on the show, which by the way, if you do leave a recording, give a shameless plug to your website or something, take advantage of it. All 13 listeners, you’re going to get massive exposure out there.
But if you do call in and we use it, we’re going to send you off a free t-shirt, in tricks t-shirt in the mail. And really appreciate that, whether you text it in, type it in or call it in, whatever it is. The questions from you out there in the audience really help fuel the show and helps everybody listening. This community of people that listen to the show and interact with us, it really does help. So thanks for posing the questions, Sue. Thanks for the great insight, Bob. Everybody else, thanks for tuning in and we’ll catch you on the next episode.
Bob Brennan: Take care. Bye now.
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