What is the first thing most people plan and design when creating, building, or redesigning their website? Their Homepage. Many will emphatically tell you, “This is the first thing people will see when they come to your site!”
THEY ARE WRONG!
In the early days of the internet (I’ll classify this as back when people had HTML websites, used scrolling GIFS, used the term ‘Surfing the Web,’ and capitalized the ‘i’ in Internet), I would have agreed with these people that your homepage was vital to helping your web traffic get to the page they were looking for.
What people fail to recognize is that, in those days, we did not know how to get to content or websites unless someone told us the URL. If you wanted to find a book, you went to BarnesandNoble.com and looked around their site to see if you could find them. You might get lucky…or you might not.
This is not true anymore. Today, you simply jump on your search engine of choice and do a quick search. In less than a minute, you’ll have millions of websites put in front of you that sell or have content around that very specific book/product.
Search engines have made your homepage obsolete. For the majority of us, the traffic to our homepage is mostly past customers or people who are already aware of our products/services in some capacity. Very few of the visitors coming to that page are completely green.
The majority of the people coming to your site today are entering on pages one or two levels deep – their landing page. They have done some sort of search that has brought them to a page with relevant content. They are not coming to your homepage. I’ll say that again…They Are NOT Coming to Your Homepage!
Why You Need 100 Homepages
Landing pages today do the job that our homepages did 5-10 years ago. You should be developing a ‘homepage’ for each type of customer coming to your site. You may have a page specifically for your selection of fiction (barnesandnoble.com/fiction) and you may have a page built specifically for people searching for Harry Potter (barnesandnoble.com/harrypotter). Each one of these customers is looking for different content/products. Although there may be some overlap, each page should be treated as its own homepage for that specific content. The more customer types you have, the more homepages you need.
This may seem like a daunting task, but by looking at your web analytics data you can see how people are getting to your site. You can see exactly what they searched, and start building pages relevant for the largest segments of your traffic. Slowly work down the list to create pages for more and more specific customers/topics.
The New Role of Your Homepage
While search engines may have made homepages of old obsolete, your homepage still has a very vital function. The role of the homepage is no longer to tell people about who you are and what you do. It is now the starting point for people who in some capacity know about you and your business, they just don’t know the specific page for the information they are looking for.
The new role of the homepage is to help those people get to the information they are looking for as fast as possible. These people have gotten to your site by typing in your URL or by doing some form of branded keyword search (aka…Googling barnes and noble). These same people may also be looking for the latest Harry Potter book, so your design and navigation must tell them how to find that information…and fast. Lucky for you, you’ve already built a homepage for your Harry Potter customer-type that you can send them to (funny how that works out).
Evaluating Your Site
Look at your site, and ask yourself these questions:
- What search terms are bringing the most traffic to my site?
- How much do these people know about me and my products/services?
- What pages are these people starting on?
- What content/products/services are these people looking for?
- Do these pages provide that content?
- Are they getting enough information on those pages to make a purchasing decision right now?
- Is their overall experience positive enough for them to make a purchasing decision right now?
If your answer to any of these questions is no, or requires the individual to seek other pages in order to get what they need, make any necessary adjustments and watch your analytics data to figure out your next steps.