12 Essential Home Page Elements for SEO and Usability
It’s obvious, the most important page on your website is the home page. Important because it’s usually the first page your visitors land on so it must make a good impression; after all, the “Back” button is easily clicked if you don’t engage the visitor’s interest within about five seconds. Yep, five! But the home page is critically important when observed through the lens of Search Engine Optimization or SEO.
Let’s take a look at 12 elements every website must have in order to accomplish both goals: visitor engagement and improved SEO (if applicable).
TOP OF THE PAGE
1. Domain Name
An easy-to-remember domain name is a big help because you want your visitors to return and maybe even share it with their friends creating valuable but inexpensive word-of-mouth advertising for your brand. SEO: Although Google has lessened the importance of an exact-match URL (or domain name), studies continue to show that a domain name containing one of your keyword phrases will favorably impact your site’s ranking.
2. Navigation Across the Top of the Page
Across-the-top navigation has become ubiquitous. It’s what website visitors expect and what they’re comfortable with. Enough said.
A logo helps convey the fact that you’re a professional in your industry, not just a weekend part-timer.
4. Phone number (if not at bottom)
I’m always surprised by how difficult it is to locate the company’s telephone number of some of the sites I visit. Don’t force your potential customers to complete a contact form to get in touch wth you. Some people still prefer being able to get their questions answered quickly by picking up the telephone and calling. SEO: By now you’ve seen how Google is showing important company data such as address and phone number on some search result pages in the right hand column. Make your company’s information available to Google by placing it on your home page.
5. Call to Action (But do it right!)
Use your website to build your mailing list by offering a how-to guide or some other valuable document in exchange for your visitor’s email address. Over time, you’ll have a core group of followers, some of which will become customers. SEO: This is a tricky one, not for how it can help you, but rather how it can hurt you. Google frowns on pop-up calls to action on mobile devices so be certain, if you’re using a Mailmunch pop-up or some other visitor call-to-action form, that it is disabled for mobile devices. If you don’t, you’ll rank poorly, especially as Google’s “Mobile First” algorithms in 2017 gain traction.
“Above the fold”
In the newspaper publishing jargon, the phrase “above the fold” means just that… what you see when you’re looking at a (folded-in-half) newspaper at a newsstand. So here, I’m referring to what is visible on your home page without scrolling down to see more. It’s important to put your most impactful content in this part of the page; doing so will capture your visitor’s attention and make him or her want to learn more about you and your company.
6. Slider, Video or Static Image
This is your chance to show off your product so do it with large, colorful, impactful photography or video. A slider is even better, it makes your site more interesting and dynamic. SEO: A good looking, well designed site and video almost always results in longer visits by your viewers. This in turn will help your site’s rank in the search engines. And don’t forget to enter the Meta Data when uploading graphic elements.
7. What You’re All About
Everyone expects to see an About Us page. Make yours interesting. How did you get into the biz? What’s something your visitors would find interesting about you? SEO: Here’s an opportunity to sprinkle a few of your keyword phrases into the text. Think of it as another place on the page where you can let the search engines know what the page is about — no pun intended!
“Below the Fold”
8. Testimonials, Reviews
Go on… brag a bit about your company, your product, and your people. You want to use this section to build confidence in the minds of your visitors about you. Don’t overwhelm them, maybe have just a few here with a link to another page containing more. Even better? Present a couple video testimonials. Even smartphone video is credible these days! Ask your satisfied customers to say just a few unscripted sentences about what you did for them and then add them to your site!
9. Quality Content (Body Copy)
The expression “Content is King” is still relevant. Body copy on your site’s home page is one of the most important elements. Let your visitors know why you’re their best choice. Talk about your differentiation, why are you better than your competitors? SEO: This is where the rubber meets the road as far as SEO is concerned. Body copy is a must; it’s where you let the search engines know what you’re all about. If your website’s template won’t let you add body copy to your homepage, get another template, it’s that important. I like the WordPress platform, for SEO it’s simply the best. Learn why.
10. Contact information
This is by far the best place to put your contact information because it shows up on each and every page of the site. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a “Contact Us” page, but you should make it as easy as possible for your potential customers to make contact with you by having this information on every page of the site.
11. Social Media Buttons
Not much to explain here. Visitors expect to be able to jump to your Facebook or LinkedIn page with one click, make it easy for them with buttons.
12. ‘Fresh Content’ Loop (Instagram, Twitter, etc)
If you have a WordPress site, there are several plugins that easily add your Instagram feed to your website. I like adding the feed to your footer. In doing so, you’re constantly adding new content to your site which keeps it interesting to your visitors. SEO: The search engines love, love, love fresh content. So having an Instagram feed on your site fulfills the goal of adding fresh content each time you post a photo to your Instagram account. Do it daily… your ranking will improve!