Your homepage is the most important page on your website. It’s where visitors get introduced to your business and its the door to all your other content. For this reason, it’s the page that you want to rank highest on Google. To achieve that, you’ll need to optimise your homepage and here are ten SEO tips to help you get started.
The purpose of a homepage
Homepage SEO starts with understanding what the purpose of your homepage is. Essentially, it is to offer introductory content that lets visitors and search engines know what type of business you are and the kinds of product or services you are offering. It also acts as a gateway to the more specific and detailed information found elsewhere on your site.
With this in mind, here are the ten things homepage SEO should set out to do.
Navigation, including menus and links, is necessary for two purposes. Primarily, it’s there to help visitors quickly and easily access the information they are looking for. For SEO, its important because it enables search engines to discover and index all the content on your site. As it does so, not only will that content be findable on the internet, it will give the search engines a more complete picture of your company and brand. This helps it better decide if your site is relevant to someone’s search query.
- A company overview
Including a company overview on your homepage is vital for SEO. This doesn’t need to be highly detailed or very lengthy. Instead, keep the description concise, explain what you do clearly and provide your unique selling point (USP).
You can also include short overviews of some of the key services you provide or product types and provide links to them.
As this information is provided on your homepage, search engines will take note of it for ranking purposes.
Ideally, you should only focus on a limited range of keywords on your homepage. Your other pages will focus on keywords of their own and you don’t want the homepage to compete with these for search engine favour. Your brand should be one of the keywords you focus on, as well as your main areas of business. If it is important, you should consider focussing on location, too.
Remember that when including keywords in your text, they should sound natural, not forced and certainly not overused, as this can be off-putting to readers and affect ranking.
- Headings and subheadings
Headings and subheadings play a key part in SEO but are only of any value if they are marked up as headings using HTML H tags. Without these tags, search engines cannot recognise them as headings. You should include headings and subheadings for titles and to divide up sections of text on your homepage. To make the best use of them, include some of your keywords. Only one heading, the title, should use the H1 tag, the rest should be H2s, H3s and H4s, used hierarchically.
- Images and videos
Visual content has an immediate and striking impact on visitors and should be an important component of your homepage. Using images together with blocks of text is a good way to break up the page into meaningful sections for the reader and provides opportunities to add SEO worthy content that can help search engines better understand the site.
For SEO purposes, all images on the homepage should have an alt tag and these can contain the various keywords your page is aiming to rank for. Try to limit keywords to one per alt tag.
While videos don’t add SEO advantages in themselves, if they are liked enough by visitors, they can result in backlinks which are highly important for helping you rank better.
- Social proof
Both visitors and search engines come with built-in scepticism. While they like trustworthy websites, they like it even more if there is some kind of independent proof. There are numerous ways you can include this on your website, such as testimonials, reviews, links to ratings on third-party sites like Trustpilot and Google and logos of your clients, sponsors and relevant trade organisations. This also gives opportunities to add additional SEO-friendly text.
- Internal and outbound links
Internal linking is crucial for good SEO as it helps with site indexing. However, aside from menus and footer links, the main homepage content should restrict links to the main pages you want visitors to move onto. Minimising the choice not only streamlines navigation; it forces the search engines and visitors to take the path you want through the site.
A footer menu can be beneficial, however, as it can contain both internal links to important parts of the site that aren’t essential on the homepage itself (blogs, knowledgebases, FAQs, etc.) and link to external sites. External links can include the logos of organisations you are members of or have affiliations with and which provide kudos and social proof.
- Calls to Action
The text used in your calls to action (CTAs) is not only essential for improving clickthrough rates, as a link, it is also taken note of by search engines. Although only short, CTAs do need some thought to make sure they clearly state the action you want visitors to take. Indeed, many websites use split testing to see which CTA texts attract the most clicks. To be most effective the CTA needs to be highly visible, direct and clear.
- Meta description
Although the meta description doesn’t feature on the page itself, it is often displayed in the search results and has a key role to play both for SEO and for clickthroughs. For the homepage, the meta description should include the company name and a short but clear description of your business. If this can include your focus keywords and be written to attract clicks, even better. Done effectively, it enables search engines to understand the site’s topic and helps potential visitors decide if it’s the right link to click on.
- Loading times
Faster loading websites benefit from higher rankings. The simple reason is that slower websites have higher abandonment rates and search engines don’t want to send visitors to them if there’s a faster alternative with similar content. Speeding up your site using caching, content delivery networks and minification, together with image optimisation and deleting unnecessary plugins can all help. Upgrading your hosting to a faster solution, like VPS, can improve loading times significantly too.
Improved SEO can have dramatic benefits for your homepage’s search engine ranking, increasing both traffic and conversion rates. Hopefully, the 10 tips provided here will give you plenty of ideas to help your homepage perform better in search engine results.
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