engine optimization (SEO) is a process that happens all over your site, in the
aesthetics as well as the back end coding, and across thousands of off-site
points of interest. With such complexity, it's easy to lose sight of the most
important page of your website--the homepage. When you're focused on maintaining
an active blog, creating dedicated internal pages for your target keywords, and
building links, you might neglect the optimization fundamentals that lead to a
Is It Worth
Optimizing the Homepage?
There have been some discussions over whether it's "worth it" to optimize a
homepage. Let's say you have an internal page where you sell your core
product--nightstands. If you optimize this page for keywords related to
"nightstands," any similar optimization of your homepage may introduce
redundancy, or a kind of SEO cannibalization to your efforts. Along similar
lines, any optimization efforts in your internal pages will carry over to your
homepage, giving it a kind of "natural" optimization.
However, it's still important to keep your
homepage in sufficient shape for branded searches, broad searches related to
your industry, and to make a valuable impression to the prospective customers
visiting you for the first time.
Features of an
These are the most important pillars of homepage
1. Use a concise and accurate title tag. Your homepage title gives you approximately 55 characters to
offer a compelling identifier for your business. That isn't a lot of room, so
you'll have to reduce your description to what's most important for your brand.
See if you can reduce everything you offer your customers to only three or four
words, and be sure to include your brand name at the beginning or end to
capitalize on branded searches. FreshBooks provides a valuable example here--its
title tag is simple, focused, and to-the-point. "Small Business Accounting
Software in the Cloud | FreshBooks."
2. Provide an accurate, compelling description. Along with your title tag should be an equally
compelling meta description--and here, you'll have more wiggle room, with 150-160 characters. Here,
you should describe a handful of the key solutions you offer your customers. When
users encounter your homepage in search results, this description will appear
under your page link, so it's the best chance you have to convince a user to
click your result instead of the others on the page. Make sure you keep this
concise, accurate, and still intriguing enough to encourage new users to click
3. Offer an intuitive navigation that shows off
your internal pages. Google
favors sites with clear, intuitive internal linking and navigation. This is
because it's easier for users to find exactly what they want, when they want
it. As a general rule, no page of your site should ever be more than three
clicks away from another page, so your homepage serves as a central "hub" for
connecting all these pages together. Accordingly, you'll need to include an
intuitive form of navigation for your users, complete with a breakdown of your
most important internal pages. This is important not only for search
optimization, but also for your user experience overall. As an example, take Stor-Mor's header navigation, which expands
downward to link to all its internal pages. An even more thorough example is
the White House homepage, where an
exhaustive list of links is provided in the footer.
4. Include ample content. Though some companies have taken to offering
only a short headline and a conversion form, it's better for SEO to include
detailed, descriptive content about your company and its services on your
homepage--at least 300 words' worth. It's tough to say everything about your
company in a concise, compelling way, so try segmenting it with various
subsections (and of course, strong H1 tags to go along with them). Mint
is a good example here--there's less than 500 words of content on the entire
page, but it's concise and descriptive enough for any new potential customer to
walk away with a relatively complete understanding of the company.
5. Feature social media integrations for user
doesn't take your social profiles directly into consideration when it
determines your authority and rankings, but including social icons will make it
more likely for users to share your material, follow, and engage with your
brand. These are secondary ranking signals, because they can influence primary
signals like inbound links, but perhaps more importantly, they're a powerful
outlet for user engagement. Be sure to include links to all your social
profiles in the header or footer of your site.
aren't the only ways to optimize a homepage, but they are the most important
fundamentals if you want to get your homepage more search visibility and higher
user engagement rates. Of course, homepage optimization isn't the only
important segment of SEO--especially compared to ongoing content marketing and
inbound link building--but completing this sequence will earn you higher
visibility and might just secure
you a higher conversion rate.
April 5, 2016
Jayson DeMers is the founder & CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based content marketing & social media agency. You can contact him on LinkedIn, Google+, or Twitter.