Our goal, the first click
All of our SEO efforts to promote the website homepage are useless if we do not think about what we really want from our homepage. What makes a website homepage successful? For the homepage we get clients requests like:
- I want to display a bunch of images in a slideshow!
- I want to show how big my company is, the huge number of employees, and how we are all around the world.
- I want my logo to be in the middle of the page because it is so nice and expensive.
- I want a Flash animated intro (yeah, still some people ask for this… so 90’s!).
Think about the most successful websites in the world, like Facebook, Wikipedia or Amazon. And now think about their homepages.
What guidelines do they follow? Certainly none of them do anything like a flash animation intro. If these sites were not famous, would you say they have a good homepage? Maybe you would say they are not flashy enough! Think, are these the homepages you would ask for your website?
Think about it, what you want from your homepage is actually very simple, all you want is your visitors to think:
"I want to know more!"
And right after that, they will surely make their first click.
This first click is the foundation of any successful homepage, no matter how you put it. If someone lands on your site and they feel they want to click somewhere interesting then your homepage design is done.
The best request for a homepage is:
- I want people to be interested and make their first click.
Now that we know the goal of our website homepage is a first click, we should think about how to get it from the visitors.... and which guidelines to follow for this.
Talk to them (not THEM, the costumers)
You want to tell the costumers what you can offer them. They don’t want to know how many offices you have, or how big and professional your company is, or how cool your new logo is; they want to have a reason to stay.
Guideline 1: Sell it
You probably are selling something, so say what you are selling right away. Many websites start with something like:
"We have various solutions for companies in many fields that want to have a presence online."
"What? I am getting out of here!" says the first nice potential costumer. So, do not be afraid to say what you have right away:
"The best rockin’ Websites for your company!"
This may be a very simple example, but many corporate websites homepages struggle with this. Of course you know what you want to sell, so sell it in the homepage. Don’t be ashamed of showing what you have to offer right away. People will not stay if you do not give them a reason to stay. Imagine Amazon saying:
"Please, browse our website to find something you may need, we have many products of many types in all kinds of prices."
Instead of what they have right now (is just the meta description, but is a good example):
“Online shopping from the earth's biggest selection of books, magazines, music, DVDs, hardware, electronics, etc.; just about anything else.”
Amazon makes very clear exactly on the homepage what they are offering and soon enough they will get our first click. This is an important lesson for your homepage: sell it. And yeah, you can talk to THEM also.
Guideline 2: Make visitors feel related
You probably have some a great business strategy and clear customer segmentation. For example, if you have "potential clients in China" vs. "potential clients abroad", then your page should have links like:
- Are you in China?
- Are you outside of China?
Then it is pretty clear what they should do: give their very first click on the section that is relevant to them. This way they will want to know more. You want visitors to feel related to what you have to offer.
Guideline 3: Tease
Get your click by giving them different teasers of the content you want to promote. Give your users some information but not all. Make them click on see more links.
You probably have various services, products, or sections you want your visitors to go to, and it is impossible to show it all in the homepage. Think of it as newspaper headlines, the full content of the newspaper would never be on the headline, it is just enough so people want to see more about it.
Have the homepage design with:
- Short but attractive text: "Get new pants now".
- Links to latest content you want to promote: "Check my blog about tiny elephants".
- Use only a few paragraphs so that people don't have to scroll down way too much.
The homepage will be much more interesting than 5 paragraphs about your company history, your biography or things like that. No one will read 5 paragraphs about how your company was founded on the homepage.
You have to think about making it look professional or beautiful: selecting the right pictures, choosing the right colors, creating the most appropriate layout. Also good SEO in the homepage is the first step to any kind of SEO. And do this thinking of your targeted costumer; you probably want a professional homepage design here.
Of course there is much more in homepage design than these few pointers or guidelines, but it is too long to say it on this post. Please give me your comments and opinions!
Create a web site… what for? This is the first question you have to wonder about. Why should I create a website? Sometimes the answer is easy, sometimes it’s not. I see many brands having websites just to have websites, with no goal assigned except showing images of the product. Is that helping their business?
Why to have a website :
- To sell online, by using this new distribution channel.
o People can buy online and you deliver the product to their homes, using this new retail store.
- To have business leads (that’s the goal of this website ;o), and increase business.
o People will come, check your services…and then let you call them or email them.
- To provide a service to your consumers.
o For example, many computer manufacturers have their drivers on their websites, so that their clients can download them.
- To build a community
o To have feedback on your products. To give more to those who really love your brand (discounts, parties)
- To build trust in your company
o I had a client who didn’t care about leads. He said “100% of my clients don’t come from a website, because our business is about 100 millions, all I need is that, once they come on my website, they leave it with the idea I am a great pro”. So, it’s a support for its communication, and help him build trust among would be customers.
- Become famous (and improve brand awareness)
o Yes, that could be a goal, for a brand or for a person. Well, the website you design and build with that in mind has to serve this purpose. For example, it has to be really original, otherwise you’re just one among others. To the contrary, in the example above, in the “build trust” website, you don’t need to be original.
- Reduce recruitment costs
o You probably know that. It you have traffic, just post job ads and you’ll have Resumes. Besides, that’s like a pre-qualifying candidates, because they already are interested in your brand/services/product.
- Reduce advertising costs
o By having a search engine friendly website and good rankings, you can reduce your online ads costs.
- For Family and friends.
o Don’t laugh! That’s the website purpose of many personal blogs. And if you knew the number of personal blogs out there… you would certainly not laugh.
- Share information
o You have a knowledge, you speak that very rare language, and you’re afraid your knowledge will die with you. You want to share knowledge, information, because you have a very warm heart. (yeah, that would never work you think? Well… one small website is called Wikipedia, did you hear about it?)
You can think of hundreds of goals and purposes for a website. What is important is that you have this objective clear in your mind, and build a website to serve a GOAL(s). Would I blog if I didn’t want to have leads for my web design and seo services? ;o)
What is your website purpose?
Google launched Google Internet Stats, a new service (surprising ;o) that is really going to be useful for internet marketing. They compile statistics from many sources, some internal like google trends, and some from other sources like eurostat, financial times, economist, etc.
Google Internet Stats is only available in the uk for now (so not very useful for us in china), but still, it’s only a test, and there are big chances for this service to meet success. We just have to wait a little before we can use it in the rest of the world (yeah, frustrating, I know…)
These statistics are NOT ONLY about INTERNET and ecommerce, it can be on any subject as we can see in the following example: On January 26th 2009, more than 76,000 job cuts were announced worldwide in a single day (source : financial times 2009)
To use it, just go on Google Internet Stats