Homepage SEO: A small guide

The home page of your website is a really important part of your website. It serves many different purposes. For example, it is where you welcome people into your website. In addition to that, the front page of your website is where you highlight the most important items on your website. As you can see, it is crucial to spend enough time optimizing this page. Now, home page SEO is all about making sure this crucial page pops up when users are searching on Google for your most important keywords.

Let us take a deep dive into

  • What home page SEO is exactly
  • How home page SEO works
  • The various techniques to improve it.

What is Homepage SEO

Many industry experts have struggled to define what exactly Homepage SEO is. They understand its benefits. But putting together a succinct explanation on the exact difference between home page SEO and normal SEO is challenging to say the least.

Here is my take on it;

“Sometimes you have to put your eggs in one basket.”

Let us take a quick detour first of all, and discuss normal SEO. Traditionally, most SEO specialists have a surgical approach to SEO. They optimize each page to rank for specific keywords. This often works really well because, you could optimize different pages with different keywords and benefit from good rankings across a basket of keywords. However optimizing the home page for specific keywords, many fear, can bring the unintended consequences of limiting your traffic. This is because, the homepage will get the traffic only for the specific keywords.

So people tend to avoid home page SEO entirely, because they don’t want to put all their proverbial keyword eggs in one basket. This is a very common error by novice SEO specialist.

However from what I have seen, in my experience as a SEO specialist is that; Home page SEO tends to work well if you select a few choice keywords, picture eggs in a basket for example, and pay special attention to them, more on this later.

So what exactly is Home page SEO? Sorry for the long winded explanation, but it was important you understand the basics first.

Home page SEO is the science of optimizing your home page in such a way that it ranks for the most competitive keywords by utilizing the power and page rank of the other pages.

You can reach us here to learn more about our SEO efforts

Consider this example;

https://Contentmarketinginstitute.com ranks really well for the keyword “content marketing” because of the wide array of content it has on content marketing. As a result of the power and page rank of the other pages, the home page of the main website, ranks first for those keywords.

How does Home Page SEO work?

Optimizing your homepage for SEO involves an array of steps. Keep in mind, it is not just an issue of technical SEO but other components have to be available to achieve this goal. Also remember, SEO isn’t just for search engines but for users.

From a strictly, technology perspective, its not all that different from doing SEO on other pages.

Here are some steps to follow to optimize your home page;

1: Seek to optimize the home page title, to improve SEO

Creativity is key here. Don’t just use your business name and or slogan as the home page title. Give your visitors and the search engines more information about your core focus. You have a total of 60 characters to describe your business to your visitors. Use them wisely. Focus on not only on what you do differently but also what you do better.

Take a look at the example below, they used their keywords Furniture through out their title. Even their domain contains the keyword.

Example of home page title

Some few tips to optimize your title

  • Use all 60 characters that are available
  • Always include keywords that best represent what you do
  • Putting your targeted keywords, at the beginning of the title has proven to work really well.
  • Put your eggs in one basket. Don’t confuse Google by adding too many keywords.
  • Keyword stuffing will work against your efforts.
  • Also using your brand on the title will help with brand awareness

2: Construct an effective meta description

The home page meta description is also a critical component in home page SEO. This is what people will see in the SERPS. Although occasionally Google may choose not to show your description but show their own. For example, this may happen if your description is too short. That is less than 320 characters.

<meta name=”description” content=”This is the short summary of the main page. It explains in brief what the main page is all about. A well written meta description positively impacts the click through rate of the search engine result post SERP” />

As mentioned, this is a short preview that summarizes what your page is all about. It is often displayed if the description is relevant to what people are searching for. In the case it is not as relevant, they may pick some text from the page and dynamically generate it.

So how long should a the meta description be?

Ideally the meta description should be at 130 characters, as mentioned above. It can be a sentence or two, or even a rather short paragraph. Just avoid auto generated descriptions

Before we proceed further it is good to mention that meta description does not have a large impact on Page ranking. But its important because it is what people see in the Google result page.

Remember to include keywords

The right key words will make your meta description relevant to the reader.

Avoid generic keywords

Generic keywords should be avoided. Always take the time to come up with a unique meta description.

Utilize a call to action in your description

Your description should encourage a reader to click on your website. But don’t over do this. A moderate CTA that blends with your content will work really well.

Use schemas to enhance the appearance of your SERP

A little known SEO secret is that search engines love schemas. In addition to boosting the appearance of your result, it makes a your page a candidate for appearing as a featured snippet. Kindly see in the image below an example of an featured snippet.

benefits of SEO ranking

With the rise of rich cards and voice search, meta description are more important than ever. Also before we jump on the next topic here is another quick tip. Always keep an eye on your CTR on Google search console and adjust and improve as necessary.

3: Pay attention to the H1 tag

Quick trivia. How many H1 tags does your website need?

The answer is one, exactly one.

This is normally at the topmost part of every website. A good tip is to add some related keywords in your title. Also to make it stand out, it is generally formatted a bit different from the other elements. Imagine you are writing the outline of a very large document. The main title, on the title cover for example is your H1.

So what is the difference between page title and the H1 tag?

  • The title is shown in the search engine results posts, while the H1 tag, is shown visually on a page. The title is not visible on the actual web page.

Why is it important for SEO?

The search engine has the very complicated task of trying to find out what your website is all about. They do this by creating an inference using data from various components of your page. One of these components is the title, the other is the H1 tag

These are generally considered by search engines as indicatives of the page content. By using keywords for in your H1 for example, helps the search engines know what your website is all about. The headings also make it easier for users to navigate your website, leading to improved time on website.

Here are some best practices for the H1 tag

  • It should be only slightly different from the main title. Actually in many cases the title and the H1 are the same.
  • Use keywords for your H1 tag. Use keywords but don’t be too liberal about it. Keyword stuffing, as I repeatedly say, will work against you.
  • Don’t use long headings. Always try to use short descriptive headings. Stick to 65 characters or less.
  • Make sure that your H1 is visible to users of your website. SEO is not just for search engines remember. A visible H1 will enable your visitors to know what your page is all about.
  • Your H1 should match your user’s expectations of the page. If it doesn’t, we call that baiting. If this happens they may leave your website without even reading your content. This will drag down your SEO efforts.

4: Your Homepage Image is also important

Good homepages have good images. Images make the page less boring and monotonous. They also make it easier to pass your message to your readers. In addition that that, it gives the search engines more insight about your content.

Using images is fairly simple, however there are some key tips you should consider.

  • Always use an alt text that describes your image well.
  • Include keywords in your Alt text in a natural manner.

You need a unique logo for your home page. Logos help with building brands. Quick tip, make sure the logo has your brand name, for example ahadisoft-logo.png. Also include your website name in the Alt text.

5: Structured data mark up

This is not yet part of Google’s ranking algorithm, but as its importance rises, we expect this to change.

What is it anyway?

Structured data mark up is a way to again, tell the search engines what your website is all about. All major search engines follow a standardized structure of presenting common data forms i.e articles, products, organizations etc

Google may use structured data like snippets to make your entries more appealing to users and thus increasing the click through rate.

When it comes to structured data you need to make sure that you have defined the following schemas

6: Your content

Your content needs special attention. Content is the meat of your home page. But not just any content, content structured in a way that search engines can read. Regardless of what you choose to display on your homepage, you need enough text content to do well on Google search.

Try not to have only video or images without the corresponding text. Again, keywords. Make sure they are included in your content together with their variations. The content on your home page should also blend well with the media available on your home page.

You should strive to satisfy the user intent. Understand why people visit your website and provide content that serves that need.

Quality also matters. Making words appear on screen just for the sake of it will lead to a poor quality website and as a result, frustrated uses who leave the website as soon as they enter. Google will notice this and it will impede your future ability to get traffic.

Add internal links directly in the body of the content to make it easy to navigate to other areas of your website.

Your content should also be easy to read and digest. This goes without saying. Apply formatting styles, add a table of content, use box quotes. Make your content appealing both to the eyes and to the brain.

7: Homepage speed

50% of users will leave your website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Ideally your website should load within one second. People are impatient, that you can’t change. A few tips;

Use a good server

It makes no sense to put a lot of energy and resources on making the perfect home page and website only for it to be hosted on a sub par server. As a matter of fact, if you are serious about ecommerce or blogging or internet business in general, you should use good webhosts. I recommend DreamHost for example, this website is hosted there, we have had good experiences with them.

Watch your file sizes

Your images and videos can be too big. They will prevent the website from loading quickly. There are many services out there that will minimize your media sizes. Utilize them, and always compress your images before you upload them. If you have a lot of images, use a CDN.

If you use videos, make sure its hosted on a platform like YouTube, then you can just embed the video.

You can read more digital marketing tips here

David Mbwana is an SEO specialist at Ahadisoft Group LLC. The company is based in Nairobi, Kenya and it helps businesses navigate the world of digital. You can reach Ahadisoft Group LLC at info@ahadisoft.com.