Beyond SEO: Effective Homepage Content for Improved Bottom Line
Real SEO value can be gained from crafting properly optimized homepage content.
That’s why webmasters and SEOs put extra care into optimizing this section of any website so it gets favorable rankings from the search engines.
However, there are factors beyond SEO that need to be considered when you create homepage content. Along with good web design, homepage content ensures that your site gets proper treatment not only from the search engines, but more importantly from the people for whom your site is intended.
The first thing visitors notice when they open the site are the aesthetic elements — the visuals. One can find hundreds of sites that have great layouts and visual details, but their poorly written content discourages visitors from engaging.
The homepage is the gateway to your site, the region where most of the unique visitors to your business land first. That’s what makes quality content so crucial. So let’s talk about the elements of strong content that supports a successful homepage.
The indispensability of homepage content
The most important thing a homepage content should do is to engage visitors so that they’re drawn deeper into the other sections of your website.
If done properly, the homepage content provides a solid and attractive introduction or overview to what your site is all about . . . and why your visitors might want to stick around a little longer.
More specifically, the homepage’s typical goals consist of the following:
- Help visitors understand why they should choose your brand over the competition (if you’re running an e-commerce site)
- Raise curiosity and intrigue
- Provide in-depth information
- Illustrate the need for your products, services, or idea
- Assist visitors to their goals by providing an effective call to action
- Set the visitors’ expectations properly by letting them know what other information they can find elsewhere within your site
When creating content for the homepage, keep this list in mind. The ultimate goal is to keep your visitors interested. Don’t picture your homepage as an introduction to you or your business — make it a page for your visitors.
You may choose to place the accent on one of the purposes above, but a combination of two or more will make your content more powerful.
Proper content positioning
Content can be placed anywhere on the page depending on the goal of the page. Ideally, text-based content should be placed just below the site’s header and headline.
However, for e-commerce sites with images of product offerings, product images are most effective “above the fold” (the upper half of the homepage, so that they appear on the first screen), with the rest of the content below the fold.
In some instances, such as in the case of sales pages, you may want your visitors to engage with you from the homepage: to sign up for a newsletter, say, or download an ebook, or get your free offer. In this case, it’s best to place a call to action just above the fold, usually on the sidebar.
You can also include calls to action at the end of the content — for example, to direct visitors to subscribe, download a page, or obtain an inquiry form.
Effective homepage content structure
Ideally, homepage content should be short, but provide sufficient and straightforward information.
You can achieve this by doing the following:
- Create a hook that will effectively catch their attention, such as telling a compelling story or asking intriguing questions.
- Use short paragraphs and sentences, with the most important points at the start of each.
- Link to other areas of your site where relevant information can be found.
- For new sites, try to limit the length to a 500-word content; depending on the level of your site’s authority, you may only need 100 to 200 words.
Capture interest with a powerful headline
Use headlines not just to grab your visitor’s attention, but also to welcome them to your site or alert them to what they might expect when they get in. Use headlines that make a promise, offer a bold statement, or lead into something they will want to read.
Some of the best headlines are those that provide visitors with a good overview of what’s in it for me?
- Find Out Why the Competition is Jealous of Us
- Learn How to Get Rid of Your Love Handles in 2 Weeks
- Find Out Why Your Neighbor Always Comes Home Happy
- Here’s What (Celebrity) Says About Our …
- Why You’re Not Satisfied With Your Career
Remember, the goal is to keep your audience interested and to draw everyone deeper into your content.
It’s all about your customers
Whether you’re an expert in your industry or the superior choice when it comes down to the products you sell, the fact is your customers don’t care. What they care about is the thing they want: something that will ease their pain or increase their pleasure.
That’s why, when you write content for your homepage, you must help your visitors to feel your empathy. Let them know you feel what they feel and you think what they think.
Speak their language. It shouldn’t be hard for you, if you have used the product you are offering.
Don’t tell them what your product can do for them. Tell them how to solve their problems.
Point out your unique selling points
Wherever possible, you want plug your business’s strong points — aka Unique Selling Points (USPs). Identify 3-5 USPs and mention them early or simply put them below your content blurb. You have identified these, right? If you haven’t . . . drop everything and go do it!
Of course you’ll want to talk about your product, but only after you’ve shown your visitors how to solve their problems. After telling them several ways to solve their issues, you can show at least three reasons why your product or idea can help them.
Note: Don’t focus on features. Focus on benefits.
Effective homepage content will do more than just rank you higher in search. It will help you achieve growth, both in the number of viewers and in conversion.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.
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