How to optimize your homepage

Does homepage SEO exist? We asked ourselves that in our post on homepage SEO. However, a lot of the people still feel that a homepage should be optimized for a keyword. Perhaps optimizing your homepage for search engines works for some of you, but ranking in Google should definitely not be the only purpose of your homepage! In this post, we want to explore the main purpose of your homepage and give tips on how to optimize your homepage to make it totally awesome.

Rankings, showcase and/or branding?

You might be able to rank your homepage for all the different keyphrases, but you have to consider if that really is the best strategy. Targeted landing pages have a tendency to perform better for these types of things. It might be better to think of your homepage as a sort of showcase of who you are and what you have to offer. You could use your site as a launching pad for all those conversions. Plus, a good homepage helps build and solidify your brand!

What is your website about?

First, we want you to check what your website is about. This seems obvious, but your mission, the uniqueness of your website, should be reflected on your homepage.

Keyword strategy

There are a lot of people trying to optimize their homepage for a certain keyword. Most of them are optimizing for a local business, and feel that the homepage is like the top of their keyword strategy pyramid. We often advice to focus your website on more than one keyword and tend to set out a strategy based upon a multitude of keywords. Even multiple keywords wouldn’t be a full keyword strategy. If you would like to read more about keyword strategy, keep reading our blog, because we have a number of posts about keyword research and keyword strategy!

Is your homepage just a large list of products and services, or did you actually take the time to write a decent welcome for your visitors? Now one of the most annoying things a website owner can do, is actually write ‘welcome to our website’. By welcoming your visitor, we mean telling him or her what they can find on your website. What is your main product or service? What can be found on your products and on your company itself on the website? And most important: what is the main benefit (USP; Unique Selling Point) for the visitor? What do you do to stand out from the crowd?

Make your USP specific

The second homepage optimization tip is to make your Unique Selling Point clear. If you do a quick search online, you’ll find that many sites struggle to make this clear. But, it’s not always easy to be absolutely clear about what your company brings the customer.

You often see business coaching websites that have a tagline like: “Helping you improve yourself!”. That isn’t a great intro or tagline, as it tells absolutely nothing about the purpose of the company. It might as well be selling great running shoes, helping you improve your running, right? Make sure your introductory content is about the key benefits for the visitor you offer. “Coaching consultants using self-reflection” would already tell a visitor a lot more.

The Two Chimps coffee company has a great pay-off that instantly makes it clear what you can expect from them

In the above homepage for Two Chimps Coffee, it is very clear what the purpose of the website is. Not only the tagline is impressive, but the design also makes this site stand out.

In most cases, that could indeed mean getting back to a boring business tagline. We’re not fans of the vague descriptions half of today’s companies seem to use. You don’t need buzzwords or hyperbole to have something be memorable and stand out — it needs to follow an easy to understand flow. If you can, try to describe the problem people have, how your product or services fixes that problem, while ending on a positive note. Something like Slack does on their homepage:

Slack’s pay-off is relatable and understandable following the problem/solution pattern

Elicit trust

We’ve seen the trust factor become ever-more important for today’s websites. Make sure that your site comes across as trustworthy, not only in a technical sense, with up-to-date technology and SSL certificates, but also in a psychological sense. If you sell something, a service or a product, people need to know that you are legit. Why should people buy your product? Why are you the expert at the subject and is your solution the one everyone should use?

Whenever you can, give visitors proof of your success. Add testimonials, reviews, recommendations from other experts, publications you appeared — anything goes. Don’t forget to link to these because nothing more frustrating than trying to verify your claims and coming up short. Of course, you can always pick a selection of reviews and make a specific page for the rest if needed. Just make sure you don’t overdo it on the homepage — your site needs to stay clear, without too many distractions.

Guide your visitor

Another purpose of your homepage is guidance for your visitor. You should make sure your homepage guides your visitor to your main pages. And, your homepage needs the introduction or tagline we described above. But that one would be useless if your homepage wouldn’t allow the visitor to click to your main or money pages. These would be the pages where you close the deal, sell the product or fill out the contact form.

This is by now means an exhaustive list, but these are the obvious ‘guides’ on most homepages:

Hero image

Hero image is a term used in web design for a specific type of web banner. A hero image is a large banner image, prominently placed on a web page, generally in the front and center.
Source: Wikipedia

Sliders, or better alternatives

It’s pretty obvious that we at Yoast don’t like sliders. Still, a slider is used very often to promote these pages. The lack of attention these pages get, is one of the reasons why we don’t like sliders. But that slider area is a great spot for guidance. If you would add a so-called hero image of your featured product, including a great call-to-action button, that would make sense. If you want to rotate that with every browser refresh, please do. It’s a great way to make your homepage appear different with every visit.

The menu

The most obvious one is the menu of your site. Have your thought about what is in your menu? Is it structured and focused? Let us give you an example: this is the menu of a financial consultant we found a while ago:

Be clear
Is this a menu that makes it instantly clear what to expect from the pages?

Start Here could be a call-to-action, of course. But Hard Choices is just too general. In the end, we’d replace both with names that describe the content after the click.

Your products

If you have an online shop, the possibilities are endless. But don’t add the entire category list in your sidebar. Focus on your most visited categories and add these in a prominent spot on your homepage. Add your best selling product to the homepage, perhaps in that larger image we mentioned at ‘sliders’ above. Be creative. Your homepage seems the best spot on your site to announce a new product, for instance. If your shop has a sale, make sure that people notice it on the homepage.

Search as a call-to-action

In many sites, the search bar is located in the header or footer. If you are selling thousands of products, or if you have written hundreds of articles on your site, chances are that a search bar will come in handy for your visitor. Why not make that one your main call-to-action and list it as the main element — instead of that slider — on your website? Doing this is actually step two. Step one is making sure your search result pages look decent.

Contact information

You also have to realize that a — returning — visitor could just be looking for your contact details. List a link to your contact page where one would expect it. That could be in the last spot in your menu, but could also be an address in your footer, or a (short) contact form in the sidebar. On mobile, your phone number should be activated to allow visitors call you with a simple tap on the number.

Do not clutter!

Do not go overboard in guidance on your website! Don’t clutter your homepage with all kind of actionable guides, but pick two or three that make sense on a site like yours. And focus on these. Keep the design of pages simple and easy to use.

Lucky Paws has a great, focussed homepage with a subtle sale nudge and great use of customer proof

This is a great example of a focused homepage. Lucky Paws as even thought of making that call-to-action a distinctive color. The page is quick to scan, the pay-off is clear and the image shows the product in use. That doggo seems might happy with that bed! The extra focus on the holiday sale above the menu is subtle and doesn’t scream SALE — although you might argue that it’s a bit too subtle.

Homepage optimization: the conclusion

Your homepage should make clear what people can find on your website. It should focus on your unique selling point. And, it should guide your visitors to your most important pages. Perhaps you can focus on these things and still optimize your homepage for a certain keyword. What do you think about that?

Of course, your website is more than just your homepage.

Read more: Does homepage SEO exist at all? »


19 Responses to How to optimize your homepage

  1. Amy Fanter
    Amy Fanter  • 2 months ago

    I have a strange question. We have a slug in the Yoast form on the static home page for our site. This seems strange to me. Should that be there? It doesnt appear on the listing but it seems odd to have a slug in the home page.

  2. Zola
    Zola  • 3 months ago

    This is a very useful article. As my website grows, I’ll have to change the layout and work on the homepage. For now, I’ll check on the items listed here. Thanks.

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 3 months ago

      You’re welcome, Zola. You’re right, it’s an ongoing process and always good to check the layout of your homepage from time to time :) Good luck!

  3. Mike Mulrooney
    Mike Mulrooney  • 3 months ago

    Hello, I found the article really helpful and will be updating my homepage. I did notice the following typo in your article “while ending on a positive not. “.
    I highly recommend Yoast to all website owners. It’s really helped my quiz website.
    Keep up the great work.
    Mike

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 3 months ago

      Thanks for your comment, Mike. I fixed the typo right away, good catch :)

  4. Anon
    Anon  • 3 months ago

    You’re slipping..!! Great article but a fair few errors…

    “…while ending on a positive not” should probably be “note”

    “ever-more important for todays websites” should be “today’s”

    “Don’t forget to link to the these“ …

    There might be more. I stopped paying attention at this point!

    Love your work, overall, though!

    Take care :)

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 3 months ago

      Hi Anon, thanks for bringing those typos to our attention! We’ll fix them right away. Take care :)

  5. David
    David  • 3 months ago

    Thank you for this post; it is really helping me to optimize my homepage for my blog / ecommerce site.
    Do you know of any examples of homepages by companies where the blog is just as important as the product (very much like Yoast i think)? We define ourselves as providers of advice and info in our niche, as well as sellers of related products.
    I have found it very difficult to find examples of companies that are doing this really well.
    Thx.

    • Edwin Toonen

      Hi David. Sorry for the late reply. Glad you found the post helpful. I know what you mean. I also find it hard to come up with examples, so I don’t think I can help you there. Sorry about that!

  6. Sharron Tancred
    Sharron Tancred  • 3 months ago

    Great article as always. I have 2 premium subscriptions for tailoredartworks.com.au and The Mural Shop. The shop’s not getting enough traffic, nor conversions. I suspect the below change will improve both.
    We have Sliders all the way through. I will convert to static with captions. Is there a plugin or best wordpress/ woo commerce practice I should us.
    Thank you so much!
    Sharron

    • Edwin Toonen

      Hi Sharron. Sorry about the late reply. Thanks for reading! Good on you for stopping to use sliders. Make sure to keep on using beautiful images on your site. Give them a proper description and alt text, like you said. Hopefully this’ll help you keep your visitors and turn them into customers! Good luck.

  7. Ehsan
    Ehsan  • 3 months ago

    Thanks for sharing this great article , I have so many single posts on my website that i think are having good SEO , but have not work around my homepage. Can we go without a homepage ?

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 3 months ago

      Hi there! Great to hear that you’re working on your SEO :) If your question is whether your site can do without a homepage, I would say no because a homepage is essential for any site. So I would recommend working on it by using the tips in this article! Let me know if you have any other questions.

  8. Manuel Salceda
    Manuel Salceda  • 3 months ago

    Very interesting. I just watched Romuald Fons talking about guideance by smart grid of categories on the body of the Home page to reduce bouce rate and help the visitor find what he needs easily.

    Tha you Yoast!

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 3 months ago

      That sounds interesting, Manuel! Keep up the good work and good luck with optimizing your homepage :)

  9. Anna
    Anna  • 3 months ago

    I always try to optimize my homepage especially if the brand name has keyword in it. But its seems like that doesn’t work any more because most keywords still get outrank by single pages.

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 3 months ago

      Hi Anna! Sounds like you’re well on your way! It’s good to work on optimizing your homepage, but I would recommend focusing less on your homepage as a landing page for one keyword. Like Edwin discusses in this article, we advise focusing your site on more than one keyword and set out a strategy based upon a multitude of keywords. You can read more about setting up a keyword strategy here: https://yoast.com/what-is-a-keyword-strategy/

  10. Murray Forest
    Murray Forest  • 3 months ago

    How you think if the homepage is properly settled with all on-page aspects, but they still facing layout issues?

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 3 months ago

      Hi there! If your homepage is facing layout issues, I would recommend taking the time to fix these as they might have an impact on how users experience your site. Which can also have an impact on how search engines see your site. User experience is important, you can read more about it in this article: https://yoast.com/what-is-ux/