Aug 6, 2010
NOTE: If you like this post, check out the follow-up: More Great Home Pages that Drive You to Take Action
Your website’s home page is the center of your online sales and marketing universe. Design your home page so that it compels users to take action – action that is perfectly aligned with your key business goals: Buy Now, Learn More, Subscribe, Follow, Like, Share.
Here are a few examples of home pages that do this well. If you know of others, share them here!
The PipelineDeals home page tells you everything you need to know about the service at a glance. There are no blocks of text for you to get hung up on, only links that act like headlines, actual headlines (“Simple & Powerful Tools for Your Sales Team”), bullets, key info and eye-catching stuff like “iPhone Edition” and “$15/mo.” . Blocks of text aren’t bad, necessarily, but if you are going to have them, optimize them for search engines and put them below the fold.
There’s an important relationship between a web page and the way that it’s listed in search results. For search engine optimization, you want to be sure to have a compelling “HTML page title tag”. The title tag should use keywords people actually use to search and that describe what the web page is about. On the PipelineDeals home page, the title tag looks like this:
<title>Sales Tracking and Online CRM Software – PipelineDeals is Simple CRM</title>
This is an excellent title tag. Great keywords at the beginning of the title tag, and a branding statement that contains the name of the business and a keyword (“Simple CRM”). PipelineDeals ranks well in Google for “sales tracking software” and it’s on page 2 of Google for “online crm software”, which is a competitive keyword. With a little more SEO work, they can get to page 1 for this keyword. Getting from page 2 to page 1 can be HUGE in terms of the amount of traffic: at least a 10-fold increase or more in some cases. Given that PipelineDeals is very near the top of page 2, this is a perfect example of low hanging fruit.
Something else to look for is the meta description tag, which, like the title tag, is not visible on the web page when viewed in a browser. It’s an important part of the HTML, though, and you can see it if you View > Source Code in your browser while you are on the page. The meta description is what shows under the HTML page title on search engine results pages. It has little to no impact on your search ranking. Instead, it’s an opportunity to use a pitch that reads like ad copy to get people to click and go to your site. If a page doesn’t have a description, Google makes one for you using text it finds on the page. Sometimes this is good, sometimes not. Here’s the PipelineDeals description.
<meta name=”description” content=”Sell more today with PipelineDeals. Organize, track and manage your deals, leads and contacts in our affordable online CRM, sales tracking and lead organization software. (866) 702-7303″ />
This description is cut off at 151 characters when shown in Google SERPs. So it looks like:
“Sell more today with PipelineDeals. Organize, track and manage your deals, leads and contacts in our affordable online CRM, sales tracking and lead …”
This is pretty good “ad-like” copy, but it would be more effective if it were cut to 160 characters or less. Finish that thought!
This home page sports a great headline: “Jobfully. A Revolutionary Job Site for Today’s Job Seekers.”
Nice look and feel, too. Video is front and center. Do you think the video does what it should to compel users to action?
Here’s the HTML title tag for the home page: <title>Jobfully</title>
This title tag is good for one thing: people searching for the word “Jobfully”, otherwise it’s useless, a major missed opportunity. Compare it to the PipelineDeals title tag.
Room for improvement:
In terms of SEO, there is a lot of room for improvement on the home page, and throughout the site. HTML title tags on every page all nearly as weak as that on the home page, and every page on the site lacks a meta description tag, including the home page.
If users want more information about the three parts of the Jobfully value proposition (productivity suite, coaching and community) they should be able to click the eye-catching icons to read more. The testimonials are intended to be read as more information about each of these areas, but no one reads testimonials when they are this long and dense. Instead of long testimonials, the home page needs short, compelling “ad-copy”-style text. Not only that, real testimonials lack the keyword focus that is needed on a home page.
Another SEO principle that could be put to use here is to link from the home page to internal pages on the site. These internal pages should focus on – and be search engine optimized for – each of the three parts of the value proposition.
It’s also vital to use actual HTML text in the three boxes, with words like “job search productivity suite” being used as “anchor text” in links to their respective internal pages. Right now that “text” is literally a part of the image that’s used for the box. It’s essentially invisible to search engines. Even if the boxes themselves were links, this would not be nearly as effective for SEO as actual text links.
Great look and feel. Love the giant yellow “Sign Up” button.
<title>Gist – Connected People Change History</title>
Catchy HTML title tag, but there are no keywords in it, nor does it say what Gist does. Missed opportunity here on several counts.
<meta name=”Description” content=”Gist provides the only full view of the contacts in your professional network by creating a rich business profile for each one that includes the most news, status updates, and work details.”/>
This description is better than the old completely generic description that was there a few months ago: “A startup focused on delivering real user value and rapidly iterating based on customer input.”
However, the new one is 188 characters. It will be cut off at 160 or less. It needs to be succinct and compelling.
If you have ideas about what makes an effective home page, or you agree or disagree with any of this, I’d love to hear it.