This is the last in the current SEO series on the inbound-i blog - about usability. And I want to leave you with one thought.
Please, please stop focusing on your home page. If you really want to have an SEO strategy, then you have to look at every page, every blog post, every piece of content you post on your website as an opportunity to come up on page one of Google search results for a different search term.
As long as you’re stuck on creating the perfect home page, you’re delaying putting focus where it should be: attracting diverse visitors to your website via whichever access point is most relevant to them. For many or most prospects, it will not be your home page.
The home page by definition is a hodge-podge. Yes. Go for some broader, harder to rank for search terms for your home page. You’d might as well. Most people who reach your home page already know you and have plugged your url into a search field. If they land there by chance or mistake, they won’t find what they’re looking for and will bounce off.
But to really generate leads – attracting those who don’t know you yet, but are searching for services/products like yours -- build content for specific offerings and optimize those content pages to attract more targeted search.
When someone hits your home page, they will likely see a diversity of messages and offerings. Try to make one visible block of content a validation that the visitor is in the right place to find info in your field. Let them know that generally they’re in the right place. And let search engines know, too, using meta data and other signals that we’ve discussed in earlier posts.
Across the board, make navigation consistent throughout your website so that visitors don’t have to relearn it on every page. We’re working on a site now where certain important information – how about the blog – is only accessible from the home page. We’re optimizing the site so that visitors who can benefit from info on the blog will enter from multiple places on the site. So we’re putting the blog in the main navigation bar.
In explaining why website navigation must be consistent throughout the site, my esteemed colleague Bernadette Nelson at Studio-B Visual Communication (www.studiob-ct.com) always tells clients, “What would happen if every time you got into your car, the controls were in a different spot?” The same holds true for how visitors navigate around your website. Don’t make them learn something new on every page, or they’ll go somewhere else.
Here’s the key takeaways on usability from SEOMoz, a highly authoritative voice on the subject:
The search engines are in a constant quest to improve their results by providing the "best" possible results. While "best" is subjective, the engines have a very good idea of the kinds of pages and sites that satisfy their searchers. Generally, these sites have several traits in common:
- Easy to use, navigate, and understand
- Provide direct, actionable information relevant to the query
- Professionally designed and accessible to modern browsers
- Deliver high quality, legitimate, credible content
Help people buy and you’ll get found by search engines!!
And if you're hungry for more Inbound Marketing information, download this fact sheet.
The Home Page Hodge Podge image is from the Flickr photostream of DanielaMeleo under Creative Commons license.