Once upon a time, your homepage was the starting point for all your customers. They got your URL from a business card, in an email, or from a friend. A quick search online would bring them to your website homepage. It was the front door to your business online. Providing information about who you are and what you do was just “good business”.
But people no longer search online the same way, and they don’t visit websites the same way. If they know your URL, they already know what they’re looking for and ignore the front page. If they find you through a search, the search directs them straight to the page that has what they may be looking for.
There are five basic reasons that your homepage is no longer performing the way it used to. There are also five easy ways you can transform it into a good homepage. First, let’s discuss the reasons it’s not working.
5 Reasons Your Homepage Isn’t Performing
1. Autoplaying Sound and/or Video
For many people, there’s nothing more obnoxious than a website homepage loading and immediately blaring music or a super-salesy video. At one time (15-20 years ago) those things were “cool”. They were unique, and separated you from the competition. But now, they’re old news and mostly just a huge annoyance to people who want to find what they need and move on with their day. Now, there are better ways to take advantage of eye-catching graphics and videos while adding value to the user experience.
Most importantly, take page load times and mobile speed into consideration! Complicated GIFs or YouTube videos take a lot of time to load properly and will dramatically increase your homepage load time. Your web visitors aren’t going to want to wait around for that.
2. Pop-ups (or Overlays, Modals & Interstitials)
How many times have you been shopping or browsing content online and the second the website homepage opens, there’s a pop-up asking for your email address? Granted, usually these come with an offer to save on your first purchase, or some other perceived benefit. But most people don’t know if they want to buy yet when that pop-up appears, and even if they do, you’ve interrupted their user experience.
That pop up display can change your visitors’ minds about shopping on your site immediately. This is particularly relevant concern on mobile because Google has started penalizing sites (as far as rank is concerned).
These type of CTA (calls to action) are great to include on a relevant product page or a content page discussing that specific product or service. You need to make sure you include your pop-ups in logical places on your site that won’t disrupt user experience and cause visitors to bounce off your site.
3. Poor or Confusing Navigation
Many times, on a small business website, the web navigation goes one of two ways: too vague or too specific. A navigation bar that’s too short can make it impossible for the user to find what they want, while one that’s too detailed can require too many clicks and become annoying. If it’s too difficult or takes too long to find something, people will go elsewhere. Other common browsing issues include navigation that lands on the wrong page, broken and error pages, or confusing pages with labels that make no sense.
These types of issues will cause your pogo-sticking and bounce rates to skyrocket. While these might not be direct ranking factors that Google uses to rank pages, make no mistake, they’re still paying attention to these important metrics (and you should too).
4. Video-Only, No Text Page
A 3-5 minute video introducing yourself, your company, and your products is nice, unless the searcher only has two minutes to spare on your homepage. Instead, searchers might want the option to scan a brief text description of who you are and what you offer to see if your site is the one they want. But, if you don’t provide them with that option, searchers aren’t going to decide they can spare two more minutes. They’re going to bounce off your site and find another one that does offer that text/ video balance and saves them time.
Users are increasingly comfortable with consuming video content. I have seen clients be very successful offering how-to video pages, creating relevant playlists on YouTube, and other related approaches with video.
5. They Never See it in the First Place
In many cases, the main reason why your website homepage isn’t effective is because your website visitors simply don’t see it.
Search results tend to take users directly to the page that has the keywords they’re searching for. Online searchers don’t want to waste their time browsing though your website. Instead, they want to perform a search and have Google tell them exactly what page to go to. Whether that’s a blog post or a particular product page, it completely bypasses all other pages on the website.
Whatever the reason your homepage isn’t receiving the traffic you want, the point is that you need to find other ways to get customers to your website and engage with your page content.
How do you do that? Let’s talk about 4 methods to increase engagement:
4 Ways to Increase Your (Home)Page Engagement
1. Create or Update Your Blog
By now, you really should have a blog. If you don’t, you need to create one. But what do you do with it?
You blog contents’ information, facts, trivia, research, and topic discussions need to be relevant and useful to your target audience. They need to pertain to your small business industry and serve as educational and informative tools to better the user experience of your website.
For example, let’s say you own a butcher shop. Your blog posts can be about various cuts of meat and how best to cook them, recipes that include the foods you sell, tips on prepping for the holiday feasts, the best methods to prepare various cuts of meat etc.
If you’re struggling to produce quality content yourself, you can look into partnering with a content development service or even a freelance writer. The key is to make sure your content is well-written and the author knows what they’re talking about.
Many times searchers visit a website to consume content and do research before buying a product or a service from a business. If your blog and page content can provide them with the information they’re looking for, your site visitors will be more likely to buy from you.
2. Post Useful Content on Social Media
You’ve probably figured out by now that having a social media presence is important for the success of your small business, and hopefully you’re already active on at least one of them. But, social media for small business is different than social media for personal use. Much of a personal and business social media presence is the same, you just need to tweak the approach a bit.
When you read an article in your personal news feed that interests you and you think is useful, you share it and like it. You can do the same thing for your business social media accounts, you just need to make sure that it’s relevant to your business. Follow people and pages that are similar to or related to yours, and share and like posts that would interest your own customers and audience.
Make sure to share your own content too! Post employee group photos, share original blog articles, direct users to your YouTube videos and so on. Your social media profiles are spaces where you can engage with your customers and target audience, so take an active role on your accounts!
3. Don’t Put Everything on Your Front Page
As we talked about at the start of this article, your website homepage once acted as your virtual front door. It was normal, and even considered appropriate at one time, to put as much information as you could on that page. Telling users as much as possible on that main page was a way to draw them deeper into the small business website.
But, now it’s rare for someone to find a homepage through a keyword search anymore. So if you want searchers to actually check our your homepage, it needs to be useful to them.
Simplify your website homepage content, fix flash player errors, and reduce your media load times to keep viewers on your site. Telling your web visitors what they already know, making them scan wordy content, or face annoying pop ups will only drive visitors away.
Create a simple and user friendly navigation menu, include beneficial CTAs, and make sure to add targeted keywords to your homepage your audience will be sure to search on. Remember, you need to design your website for your audience, not yourself!
4. Use Strategic Calls to Action
You want website visitors to download your resources, order your newest products, and sign up for your newsletter, but how do you get them to take that action and engage with your page?
You need to create and include CTA buttons in key locations on your website!
For example, if you write a blog article detailing a new product you carry, it’s uses, benefits, cost comparisons, reviews etc. and then include a CTA button on the same page, searchers will be more inclined to click it. because you’ve peaked their interest.
You may even want to run an A/B test of a page with the call to action in different locations, with different colors, and different text line to see how they perform. This can be complicated or simple depending on the number of variables you want to test; but, for best results you should only test one variable at a time.
Your CTA can either increase your page engagement and bring more visitors to your site, or it can lay dormant in a space where no one sees it. Be open to changes and updates, it could change everything!
The website homepage is no longer a gateway to your small business website, it’s now just one of multiple landing/navigation pages your site has to offer. Update your homepage and turn it into a resource that offers value for those who come across it, but don’t count on it as a major selling point anymore.
Revamp your website as a whole, make sure there’s plenty to see, read, and do. Ensure that everything you present offers your users the value they expect and deserve!