How to optimise the homepage of your website to improve your conversion rate

We all know that first impressions count on your website. Which makes it all the more important to have an effective and informative homepage. But how does one achieve this?

If your website is struggling to convert visitors into a customer or lead, then you’ll first want to prioritise what impact you have on traffic over how much traffic you can bring in. With relevant links to the most important pages and focusing on SEO best practices, you’ll have a fully optimised homepage in no time.

Let us help you find out how to optimise your website's homepage to improve your conversion rate…

Clear and concise navigation

Your website must have clear and concise navigation. This is one of the most important factors in optimising your homepage, as it’s likely to be the first thing a user will see when trying to find answers to pain points. If you have poor navigation then a user will likely become confused and frustrated, leading them to leave your site in search of a more user-friendly website.

There is an unwritten rule that all pages on your website should be no more than three clicks deep when navigating. It’s more likely that a user will become disorientated and quickly give up on a task that requires more than three clicks to be completed. Good navigation is essential for a positive user experience as it will either make or break your click-through rates and conversion rates.

Focus on SEO best practices

SEO best practices aren’t just to please Google and help your pages rank higher on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Google ranks websites by using web crawlers that scan and index pages. Every page gets rated according to Google's opinion of its authority, quality and relevance to the end-user.

Investing in good SEO plays a crucial part in optimising your website’s visibility online, as you will start to see more organic visitors on your website as a result of your efforts. Ensuring your website is optimised in the right way for users landing on your page will increase the chances of opportunities to convert visitors into customers.

Sitemaps

To help search engines find and index new websites or updated web pages faster, you should have a sitemap. An XML sitemap is a file that sits in your website's domain that lists a website's important pages. Sitemaps help search engines, like Google, find and crawl pages. They also make the structure of a website easier to understand and navigate. You want a search engine to crawl and index a website so that the content within it can be ranked within the search results. Sitemaps play a vital part in SEO as they will ultimately bring in traffic and revenue.

Heading Tags

Structuring your homepage correctly by using the appropriate heading tags can make a big difference in your SEO performance.

Your page should have a strong Heading 1 (<h1>) tag at the very top of the page, as this will draw in the reader and give a clear indication of the content on the page. Any subheadings underneath should follow the six possible levels of headings <h1>,<h2>,<h3>,<h4>,<h5> and <h6>. Most of the time an <h2> and <h3> is all you'll need to add.

For example:

<h1>Page title</h1>
      paragraph(s)
      <h2>First section</h2>
            paragraph(s)
            <h3>First section's subsection</h3>
                  paragraph(s)
      <h2>Second section</h2>
            paragraph(s)

This is what allows Google to read your pages and understand their structure, alongside other factors that will determine your ranking status. Ensuring all headings on your website are appropriately tagged is essential for optimisation.

Depending on the platform you select to build your site on, various tools exist to help check on such things as the number of heading tags used on a page. Here at Discovery, we have built an in-house SEO Toolkit for Umbraco CMS to do this job among others. Such tools can really take some of the headaches out of finding pages that have common issues such as multiple “h1” tags being used.

 

Image sizing

When we talk about image sizing, we don’t mean the height and width, but the file size in bytes. Image file sizing can disproportionally affect your page's loading time. A slow website will impact your online success in three key ways:

  1. Conversion - A slow website kills conversions. Users expect a website to load within seconds, if not they will abandon it altogether.
  2. Usability - The load time of your site and its responsiveness to user requests directly impact customer loyalty. Better site performance will enhance user satisfaction, increase your user base and strengthen your brand.
  3. Visibility - Google uses site speed as a ranking factor on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Load time therefore directly affects how easily search engine users can find you.

The most common image formats for the web are JPEG and PNG. In years past these were the preferred format as the level of compression and thus final file size is smaller than BMP files which were the alternative. Recently though new formats such as AVIF and WebP have emerged and these formats have superior compression and quality characteristics compared to their older JPEG and PNG counterparts. Encoding your images in these formats rather than JPEG or PNG means that they will load faster, consume less cellular data and get a better Lighthouse score.

Generally converting your images to next-gen formats is a laborious manual task and requires using online tools to individually convert each image before it is uploaded to your site. With this in mind, we developed some in-house tools for use with Umbraco CMS to automate this process and convert all images to WebP as they are uploaded to the site's media library. Freeing up time to focus on the content and saving the headache of remembering to manually convert each image.

Title tags and meta descriptions

Your title tags and meta descriptions are what users see in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and will be the determining factor in whether or not someone will click through to your site.

It’s important to include your primary keyword in both your title tags and meta descriptions, as this will help Google match your page with a custom query and likewise users will see your page as a helpful resource. The keyword you choose must be accurate to what a user can expect to see from your page. If your page content is misleading this will negatively impact your bounce rate as you won’t be answering the question users are looking for.

This will look slightly different depending on the Content Management System (CMS) you’re using. For example, the Umbraco CMS ensures there is an SEO-specific area for you to fully optimise your pages with the correct meta titles and descriptions.

When implementing your title tags and meta descriptions into a Content Management System (CMS), depending on the CMS you’re using this may look slightly different. Umbraco CMS ensures there is an SEO-specific area for you to fully optimise your pages with the correct meta titles and descriptions.

Include a Call to Action (CTA)

Your homepage is an entry point, it needs to have a purpose. It’s likely to be the first time a user has interacted with your site before. A homepage shouldn’t be content-heavy that overloads a reader with who you are and everything your company does; that level of detail is what product and service pages are for.

That’s why your messaging needs to be clear but concise, and ensure you include relevant CTAs. Likewise, it’s important not to clutter your website and direct users to too many pages, as that can become confusing and create a bad user experience.

It’s best to choose 1-2 pages that you want to push a user towards, so include these CTAs throughout the homepage. Place CTAs in relevant places and place links within content where necessary. Keep your design templates simple and consistent throughout, this is key to having a fully optimised homepage.

Design for a good first impression

If your website looks visually unappealing or confusing, you’ll see a high bounce rate as users go elsewhere. Users will not trust a poorly designed website, whereas a compelling website with compelling design elements can capture the attention of visitors and keep them on your page long enough to learn more.

Layout

A good layout will improve a user's experience by creating a better first encounter for new visitors to your page. Without a layout, users can become frustrated if there is an overwhelming amount of content on the screen which can become stressful, resulting in them just leaving the website. As a general rule, keep it simple. Stay away from over-the-top design elements, utilise white space and keep the content stripped back to invite the user to want to learn more.

Mobile responsiveness

Designing for mobile first comes with huge benefits, such as working towards improving your ranking in SERPs and generally providing a better user experience, as most website traffic now comes from mobile. You won't have to worry about there being any mobile feature constraints, or slow loading times when using a mobile device. If you want your users to have the best possible experience on mobile and desktop devices, then designing for mobile-first is the way to go.

Typography

Typography best describes the creative design of text on your web pages. You need to consider both the readability of your font, as well as choosing fonts from within your industry. The font you choose to represent your brand identity will dictate whether you are more serious and professional, or fun and casual.

Another element that will define the hierarchy of your content in two ways is size and colour. Larger font sizes stand out more and this is useful for navigation purposes. It's also useful for skim readers as it makes your content more digestible. A website's background and text colour should have a sharp colour contrast between them to help with text readability and enable them to be able to read the site content with ease.

What’s next?

For the majority of your customers, your homepage is the biggest representation of who you are as a business and what you can do for them. Getting this first step right is absolutely pivotal to your success. When you invest in your website you will start to see more organic visitors to your website as a result of your efforts.

If you feel like the design or structure of your homepage may be causing issues when it comes to aiding conversion, you may want to consider how you can improve these elements such as the layout or structure. It might just be time to consider a new website if the existing design or layout is incohesive or out of date.

We can help you solve these challenges and design a website that better suits your business's needs, get in touch today to start your next website development project.

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