Website homepages have gone through lots of ups and downs over the last few decades, as ideas of what looks good have shifted this way and that.
These days, though, the majority of businesses have more or less agreed on what makes a good homepage.
And that’s important, because a smartly designed homepage is what you need to make a strong first impression with the buying public.
It doesn’t matter what you’re selling or what service you’re offering; the right kind of homepage will draw the users you need further into your website, where they can learn more about you and even convert.
So, what are those elements that almost universally make a good homepage? How can you put this one single page of your website to work for your business and start accomplishing more of what you want?
We’ll cover those factors now and show you some examples of effective homepages along the way.
Even before we get to the design and placement of business names and logos, we have to talk about branding, or messaging.
Branding is what your business is; it literally defines you, and believe it or not, you’ll find pretty much across the Internet that branding plays first fiddle over names and logos on homepages.
Now, the importance of your name or logo on the homepage cannot be overstated, but take a look at some above-the-fold examples of homepages to see where the modern website places branding in relation to logos:
Even if we only looked at the LSEO homepage, we would see that, even though it’s vital to place who we are in the top left, we want you to know first that we are an enterprise digital marketing solution for your large business. We also want you to see the numbers that demonstrate our success.
Take a look at these other examples. What do they have in common?
So, if you’re getting the sense that these businesses want you to know what they’re about, a split second before you think about who they are, that does seem to be the case, doesn’t it?
Given that, you really have to do some thinking on your branding message.
You obviously know what your philosophy and approach are, but how you communicate that in just a few words and maybe one image on your homepage is a different story.
In any event, branding is vital to a homepage, so it has to happen.
2.) Name & Logo
Right after branding, though, come your business’s name and logo.
They’re actually part of your branding, but a separate part from your messaging.
And while many users will probably know which business’s website they are viewing before they actually go there, it’s crucial to allow visitors to connect your branding with your name. That’s exactly what websites are supposed to accomplish.
In general, your business name and logo should go in the top left corner of the website. How prominently they appear there is up to you, so long as it’s clear whose homepage this is.
You can see examples of logos in the three examples above, but let’s look at a few more now.
3.) H1 Title
Now we’re getting into more of the SEO part of a homepage: you need an H1 title.
In the world of on-page SEO, an optimized heading structure is a necessity on every page, not just the homepage.
Google assigns more weight to the words contained within headings as opposed to body text, so this is why content creators try to fit keywords into headings wherever they make sense.
We said above that homepages are your chance to make a good first impression on your visitors. H1s help to accomplish that, but they also do the same for Google and other search engines.
Google will crawl your homepage, as the most important page of your website, and learn about you from the text of your H1, the most important heading on any page.
So a strong H1 heading is your chance to do a few things at once: describe who you are to users, brand yourself, and tell Google what your entire business is about.
With all this in mind, let’s draw on some examples of good homepage H1 headings from across the Internet.
From a straight SEO perspective, I think UPMC’s homepage H1 is the best. It states the company’s strongest value while also telling Google what it does.
Barnes & Noble’s H1 isn’t bad, either. It’s small on the page, but hey, it tells the story.
Disneyland is Disneyland. It’s going to do whatever it wants. Its H1 focuses more on its seasonal attractions right now than its evergreen appeal, but it works. It gets the narrative across.
The takeaway is this: as you design your business’s homepage, no matter what else you want on the page, craft an SEO-optimized H1 header that says who you are both to people and to search engines.
4.) Main Navigation
The next critical element you absolutely need on your homepage, and really your entire website, is a clear and concise main navigation.
Main navigations can really make or break a website, and while you will most often find those navigations on every page of a site, they are especially beneficial on homepages.
Homepages are usually the most visited pages of a website. It’s where the majority of people come in and where they get the most concise snapshot of who you are.
Once people arrive there and take in your identity and brand, they’re going to want to go places, and a clear and tidy navigation will help them do that.
If users can’t find how to get somewhere, they’re probably just not going to bother with you.
Always remember: confused users don’t convert.
You should always be thinking of users before search engines, but it’s definitely worth it to note that website navigations play a huge role in your SEO, as well.
Just as navigational menus help real people to find their way through your site, they help Google’s search crawlers to do the same.
By traveling from your homepage to your service or category pages and then on down to your “about” page and your blog posts, Google finds out what your site is and how the pages relate to one another.
That understanding is what allows the search engine to rank your pages appropriately for different queries.
But Google can’t understand those page relationships without a clear navigation, so it’s up to you to provide it with one right from the get-go on your homepage.
Now, let’s take a look at some examples of homepages that do the whole navigation thing pretty well:
I think you get the point. The best navigations list out all the main categories and can even break those categories down into subcategories, but they leave it at that. Things are supposed to be straightforward and easy to find.
Those kinds of navigations will get you found by people and search engines, so you have to present them right at the outset, on your homepage.
5.) Calls to Action
The final major element that you absolutely have to have on your homepage is a series of calls to action, a few easy ways for users to convert.
Now, let’s take a step back and talk about calls to action first.
I’d venture to say that no two CTAs are alike for any two businesses.
That’s because every business model is different, and every organization wants to accomplish different things.
So, the type of CTA you have on your homepage, and what you want users to do from those CTAs, is up to you, and you have to think about that before even setting up your website.
Maybe you’re a blog site that makes money through affiliate links and by selling ad space. In that case, what you need is traffic, eyeballs on your content so those people can click the links and ads.
If you’re an ecommerce website that sells sporting goods, you want people to start shopping right now.
In that case, you’d need either a straight-up “shop now” button above the fold or even an offer or discount button. Something like, “First-time shoppers save 20% on their entire order! Click here to claim your one-time offer.”
Whatever it is for you, make sure you have multiple CTAs throughout your homepage, not just in one place. Make it clear what you want people to do.
If you don’t, guess what?
They won’t do anything.
How you present those CTAs is also up to you, although if you go the button route, make sure the buttons are vibrant and noticeable and clearly stand out from the rest of the page.
Or, you can simply call visitors to action through text.
I’ll demonstrate here what each method can look like for you on WordPress.
Here’s a button CTA:
And here’s more or less the same CTA through body text:
“Interested in our SEO consulting services? Reach out today to learn more!”
So now let’s look at some homepage CTA examples that you may want to use as models for your own.
For a quick refresher on everything we’ve covered here, here’s a table summarizing the five homepage elements you need on your homepage right now.
|Homepage Element||Why You Need It|
|Branding||Tells visitors what you’re about|
|Name & Logo||Let users connect what you’re about to who you are|
|H1 Title||Tells people and search engines what this page is about|
|Main Navigation||Allows users and search engines to get though your site easily|
|Calls to Action (CTAs)||Tell users what you want them to do next|
Let’s Revamp Your Homepage Together
Website design and SEO almost always go hand in hand. If you’re building a website that you want to be optimized for SEO, it really pays to bake the SEO into it from the start.
And nowhere is that SEO going to be more important than on your homepage, where you’ll attract the most new visitors.
If you need some expert help setting up your website’s homepage to be a real conversion engine for your business, call us up at LSEO. We’ll get you what you need.