Guidelines for Creating a Great Homepage
This week, we’re continuing our series on how to create and write a great website. As promised, today we’ll talk about SEO, review the structure of a great website, and discuss the most important features of your homepage. Pencils up!
First: Let’s Talk About SEO
Search engine optimization — SEO — is a big topic, and it encompasses a lot more than copywriting. But, for right now, there’s one key thing to remember about SEO when it comes to your web content: Be authentically valuable.
When we search for something online, we're usually looking to answer a question or solve a problem. Typically, the sites that are best at doing this show up in the top of Google’s search results. So if you write for your dream clients and explain how you can solve their problems, using the same terms and vocabulary they do, Google is more likely to find you — and so is your ideal audience.
Sometimes businesses get a little too creative and miss out on search traffic. For example, if your homepage calls you a “chronicler of romantic adventures” and never mentions that you're a destination wedding photographer, you could be confusing Google and potential clients. In your web copy, consistently use words and phrases your target client would likely use to search for you.
By the way, this is one of the reasons we say to get super-clear on your audience, how you serve them and why you're so good at getting results for them. Google will reward you for having a well-defined business niche. A generic phrase like "career coach" yields lots of search results. If you’re trying to get on the first page of Google results for a phrase like this, it'll be tricky. Your odds are better if your business has a specific focus, like “career coach for veterans,” “career coach for college graduates” or “career coach for moms re-entering the workforce.”
Remember, your target clients are looking for someone who specializes in their needs. Show them that's you through the language you use on your website.
Structuring Your Website Content
Last week, we took a broad look at how to make your web content connect with your target audience, so let’s dive into the specifics of how to organize that content on your specific website pages.
Through our years of experience, we've found that a website with the following pages fits the needs and budgets of most small businesses:
- Services or Product Page
- About Page
- Proof Page (such as statistics, client list and logos, your portfolio, and case studies)
- Bonus Page (such as testimonials, FAQs, upcoming events or your blog)
- Blog (if you chose to use something else as your bonus page)
- Contact Page
- And don’t forget the all-important Footer!
In the coming weeks, we'll take you through each section of your website and the content it should contain, beginning with your homepage.
Creating Your Homepage
Because of the way SEO has evolved (see above), we've become fans of slightly longer, more information-rich homepages like our own or the homepage of our beloved client Startup Fashion. Remember, Google is evaluating whether your site seems like a valuable resource on a particular topic. You can demonstrate your value by having at least 300 words of focused, relevant content on your homepage.
So, what could those 300+ words include?
- The name of your business, of course, and any other key brand elements.
- A tagline or “positioning statement” that appears with your business name or in the top header and makes clear exactly what you do and who you do it for. (For example, our statement is “Creating meaningful brands for passionate entrepreneurs.”)
- Further clarifying text that lets site visitors know they’re in the right place. Here's a formula you can follow:
“We're an (adjective)(type of business) that helps (ideal audience) to (ideal audience's goal and the benefits they receive)." It’s important to communicate early on exactly what you or your company does so your site visitor doesn’t have to think twice about it.
- Search-engine-friendly language. What would your ideal clients type in the Google search bar when they're seeking help with the problems you can solve for them? This could be phrasing like "real estate agent in Austin, Texas" or "online career coaching" or "eco-friendly renovation in Houston." Whatever that wording is for you, it belongs on your homepage.
- A brief overview of your services that links to the full Services page on your site.
- A brief overview of your expertise that links to the Services or About page.
- A brief overview of who exactly you work with or sell to so that a potential client can self-identify early on as the right fit. (Of course, you’ll go into more detail about your services, expertise, and audience elsewhere on your site, but if a user is just quickly scanning your homepage, you’re giving them a reason to read on if they are a fit!)
- Testimonials from happy clients or customers, if you have them. If you don’t, we encourage you to request a few! (And if you’ve worked with recognizable clients, include their logos on your homepage with a link to your full Proof page.)
- A "work with me" or a specific call to action with a link to your Contact page. (So often we find that websites aren’t clear about asking for the work they want. Make sure you know the desired outcome you want a user to take, and then ask them to do it.)
- We also recommend that your homepage include an email subscription pop-up or form so you can start building your mailing list. Consider what you can give your audience to encourage them to give you their email address. There must be some value in the exchange.
Don’t Forget the Footer
The footer will appear at the bottom of all pages on your website. It almost always includes the following elements:
- Social media icons
- A link to the Contact page
- Email signup
- A repeat of the main navigation (This is optional. These days, we’ve noticed footers getting much simpler.)
While getting your homepage just right can take time, it’s worth the effort. After all, it’s not only the homepage of your business, it’s also the homepage of your brand. Writing your homepage copy can help you see your business even more clearly, and most importantly, it helps you optimize SEO and communicate authentically with the people you most want to reach.
Want more help creating compelling homepage content? Check out the article "What’s Happening with Your Homepage Header, Hero and Headline?" from Orbit Media. And if you’re looking to discover more about how to create a business that’s built around your passion and expertise, download our free High-Vibe Entrepreneur Method Workbook or contact us at DesignGood. There’s nothing we love more than supporting our fellow entrepreneurs.