Great Home Pages that Drive You to Take Action

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!

PipelineDeals

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.

simple CRM - Google SearchSomething 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!

jobfully search marketingJobfully
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.

gist search marketingGist
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.

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How to Build Your Business in 60 Seconds: Sage Marketing Advice from Mel Pircheski

Here’s how to build your business – and advance your career – in 60 seconds: create an effective “elevator pitch”. You may already know what an elevator pitch is. It’s the short answer you give when you meet someone for the first time and they ask, “What do you do?”

Most of us underestimate the importance of a great elevator pitch. We think it’s just for salesmen. But it’s much more than that. You may have patented the most amazing invention since the electric light bulb, but if no one knows about it and sees its significance, your business will fail.

Just like every business has an online profile whether they create one themselves or not, every business has an elevator pitch. It’s called the value proposition. Stating it clearly, and in way that makes the listener want to learn more, is essential to success. In big organizations, this responsibility traditionally lies with the marketing department. But in the age of social media, articulation of the value prop can be carried out by every person in the organization – and by the media, customers, “fans” and “followers” – certainly not just the marketing department.

Today it’s all the more important to have a killer elevator pitch to capture the spirit and value of what your business offers. Perfect it, and it will practically spread by itself.

The successful elevator pitch is as close as you can get to a silver bullet for business success. It’s particularly useful for understanding what makes a good pay-per-click (e.g. Google AdWords) ad. These are the short ads that appear as “Sponsored links” next to search results on Google, Yahoo! and other search pages. A good AdWords ad grabs your attention without using hype. It offers to relieve an itch or a pain or a desire. It makes you want to learn more. It does so by speaking your language. It’s not necessarily the language of the company making the offer.

Invariably, this language includes keywords. Words that you type into a search engine to do a search. When you are looking for a product on the Internet, you don’t sit there and think, hmm, I wonder what words the manufacturer uses to talk about his products. You just type the first thing that comes to mind. That’s a keyword.

Keywords are often the hardest part of the search marketing process, in search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising like Google AdWords. To be successful, keywords have to capture the thinking of the site visitor or person doing a search. They are the essence of whatever it is that makes them want to learn more, to click. And they are the essence of whatever it is that makes that person want to share an idea – or product or brand – with friends and family.

The next stranger you meet might be in a position to change the course of your business or your career. They might be looking for an opportunity, or they might be ready to put you in touch with someone who will be your greatest investor or partner or boss. Why not be ready? As the saying goes, “Luck is the time when preparation and opportunity meet.”

Mel Pircheski is the master of the elevator pitch. Take a minute to read this short post that gives you the essence of a successful elevator pitch. Put his words into practice, and I guarantee you’ll see positive results.

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Social Media and Social Transformation via the Internet: The Cluetrain Manifesto

On the “Reading Social Media” Book Club Blog, Veronica Sopher and Maya Bisineer have posted my summary and review of The Cluetrain Manifesto. The Cluetrain Manifesto is a social media classic that was written before the term “social media” even existed: way, way back in 1999-2000. It says everything that’s now familiar to us social media types. But it’s not written as a book on marketing or business; it’s about the Internet and its implications for the way humans – mainly humans in corporate America, but really all humans living in industrialized countries – communicate.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Summary and review of The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual
by Mark McLaren

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