Best Practices For Homepages
When it comes to homepage SEO, every website will be different. Depending on the technology used and how the design is implemented, it can massively impact SEO and the ability to rank. Below I will be outlining some of the best practices that should be employed when designing and building a website. While it may be difficult to implement every single point, even having a few done properly can make a lot of difference.
When approaching web design with SEO in mind, you have to think long-term. Design trends come and go, but your brand and online presence will last much longer. Focusing too much on fleeting design trends can be problematic, but you also don’t want to completely ignore current styles.
There should be enough content on the page so that users and search engines can read and understand the page and the website as a whole. At a minimum, there should be 150 words, it must be descriptive about your brand, location, and services.
Search engines understand text a lot more than images and flash based objects. So make sure to prioritize text and have it below the main homepage image or very close to the top. Always above the fold (if design allows).
- Close to the top of the page
- Minimum 150 words
- If possible have the text on display, not in a read more tab
- The content should be unique and not copied or duplicated
Name, Address and Contact information
Having your Name, Address and Contact information (NAP) on your homepage is essential to inspire trust in both the users and the search engines. Firstly for users, it shows that you have nothing to hide and are easy to contact, whereas for search engines it helps with local SEO.
They are able to find out exactly where you are based and how to reach you if needed, this helps with rankings in your local area. This information could all be in the footer or broken up in to pieces, for example… Telephone number at the top of the page while the NAP in the footer.
- NAP visible and easy to find
- Include all information, make the email address and telephone number clickable (this is for people searching on their phones)
- Map embedded
Brand name clearly visible
Having your brand name clearly visible on the page is vital to improving and promoting your presence. It is advisable to be in the first bit of text they see on the homepage, this is good for search engines and users. It reinforces your brand and makes your name stick in the user’s mind. For search engines, they associate with your brand and it will be easier for branded searches.
For example, Welcome To The Example Hotel In Barcelona
Having your Brand name in your H1 tag in your homepage is ideal, it tells the search engines that this name is important to this website. Also including your brand name in the content on the homepage also reinforces it.
Social media buttons and accounts
Having social media account links on your homepage is also a very good practice, it enables quick viewing and liking from a users point of view.
It also takes a holistic approach to SEO, uniting social media and SEO together. Being active on social media is also very helpful for SEO, it keeps users engaged and has the best potential to reach the most people and encourage backlinks.
While social media links are generally not counted, having a well-liked brand page that draws in a lot of users and keeps steady traffic going to the site will help SEO.
Easy internal linking to sub pages
This may sound obvious but when building your site, make sure that on the homepage you can easily see internal links, access sub pages with no more than 3 clicks. You want to make it idiot and dummy proof.
When linking, make it as easy as possible, include main navigation links, image links to products and internal links to sub pages.
- Sub-pages no more than 3 levels deep, or clicks (This is for both users and search engines, users will get bored + frustrated, and the deeper the pages the harder the search engine spiders have to crawl)
- Main navigation all makes sense
- Include a mix of text links, image links and product links
Reviews / Case studies / Testimonials
Users nowadays are super hot on looking and finding reviews before undertaking or purchasing any products. To inspire trust and confidence it would be wise to include testimonials on the homepage.
Reviews are part of the local ranking algorithm which ties in with the main algorithm. So the better your reviews, the more this will help with your local SEO. Testimonials, especially on Google have a direct impact on search rankings, good and relevant testimonials directly impact local SEO.
Reviews do not have to be placed close to the top or above the fold but having them on the homepage is a best practice.
If you have amassed a lot of case studies or reviews a whole page dedicated to them would be ideal. For the industry that we are in, it would always be wise to include a Tripadvisor link or widget.
Images that draw and captivate the user
This will vary from business to business but images should remain constant. They need to effectively describe your business without any text or content needed. For example, if you are a local bakery you would put images of your baked goods or a picture of yourself baking, not a generic oven. They need to work with the content and design, not confuse.
Images are there to compliment your page and your content. This is especially true for hotels or restaurants, you are providing an escape and a representative of what you desire, draw the users in with lovely high-quality photos.
Images have the ability to rank in their own right, with proper optimization they can rank in Google search results.
As I said they are there to compliment a page, never just rely on a design that only has image and image links, they should back up the content.
5 Second Test
When a user lands on your site they need to immediately see what you do and the services that you offer. This has to come from a mix of content, images, special offers, reviews and the website as a whole.
Think of it this way, you click a link in the SERP´s on spa and swimming pools in Barcelona , then are greeted by a picture of food and drink. You would immediately click back.
Being transparent in what you offer prevents any issues in the sales funnel. Users like to see all the information immediately. The key to making this work is include feature lists, easy to see special offers and information, Images that describe the site and page.
Easy to navigate and design of the site
A website needs to be flawless and easy to use, if, within a few seconds of landing on your site you are not able to clearly see the structure, what you offer and the products you have, users will immediately bounce.
If a user has to think how, then your wow website has failed.
Web Design and SEO
The temptation to place more importance on a pretty web design than a functional one is not uncommon. A website that is useful and helpful is more important than website beauty.
Design for function and then form will follow
If you land on a website and you think wow but you are wondering how, then this is a problem. What might happen if users do not know what to do on your website? They might bounce.
Always remember that the center point of a website is the user, when designing a site, always think about how the user will interact and understand the site. While unleashing your creative flair is advised, put the user over your portfolio.
Page speed is measured in 2 ways, time to fully render the page and contents, or time to first byte of information from the server. Whichever way you choose to measure the metric increasing the speed is beneficial.
Page speed depends on a variety of factors, this can be design related, server and host related, content and on-page optimization related. Page speed matters for both users and search engines, users will leave a slow loading site and Google may penalize you. Page speed is a ranking factor in Google´s algorithm.
Image Source: Pixabay