Skipping the Homepage
We tend to think of a website as a linear experience – you enter at the homepage and use the navigation or on-page links to move through other pages on the site.
In that sense, the homepage is the front door (we even used to put little houses in the righthand corners to help navigate “home!”). We lay out the welcome mat for our visitors – making sure the homepage tells them who we are, what we do and, most importantly, why we do it.
But that isn’t always the case.
Thanks to more sophisticated search engines and amped-up content marketing efforts, visitors aren’t always starting at the homepage. They’re starting in the middle.
Search engines like Google want to provide results the most closely match the query. Or, put it plainly — people ask search engines questions, and search engines want to give them the best answer.
That often means they’re digging into the more content-heavy interior pages of your site — product listings, service descriptions, or even individual blog posts.
On top of that, most content marketing links to blogs, case studies or other landing pages, not the homepage. Think about it — how often do you post a link to your homepage on social media, compared to say, your most recent blog post?
When visitors bypass your homepage, are they still getting a great first impression? Is that welcome mat still laid out for them?
When people click those links from search and social, they’re bypassing your homepage. Bypassing all that who/what/why messaging you worked so hard on. But there are a few things you can do to ensure that these visitors have a good website experience and convert into leads:
First, identify which pages of your website people are entering through most often. In Google Analytics, you’ll find this information in the Landing Page report (under Behavior: Site Content).
You can drill down even further if you isolate the entrances from organic search by adding a Secondary Dimension and selecting Acquisition: Source/Medium. This will show not only the first page a visitor landed on, but where they came from. Identifying the top landing pages from search gives you a good idea of what visitors or looking for to begin begin with.
Also consider controlled efforts like social media or marketing campaigns when you aren’t sending visitors directly to your homepage. Have a blog post you know you are pushing? Make sure you’re happy with that page being the front door to your website.
Once you’ve identified these pages, make sure they are as thoughtfully designed as your homepage. Even though they are within the site, these pages should still introduce you to the visitor and tell your story — the who, what, why.
Most importantly, the pages should inspire action. What do you want the visitor to do next? Make sure these high-traffic pages are designed to convert by including calls to subscribe, to contact you or take a demo, or explore other sections of the website.
You should also check to see if these interior pages of your website are optimized for mobile. (Google has a great tool to test your site.) Chances are, most of the search and social traffic to your website is coming from mobile devices (even if overall, you see more traffic from desktops). The page design should be clean, easy to read and the calls to action should be simple and visible. Plus, having mobile-optimized pages may actually improve your search rankings — it’s all related.
For the most part, the homepage is still the most visited page of a website and the first impression a visitor will have. But more and more, visitors are entering sites through interior pages. Make sure you know which of these pages are high-traffic entrance points, and use them as an opportunity to reinforce your message and convert visitors into leads.
WATCH: Danielle discusses why more and more website visitors are skipping the homepage, and what you can do to get the most out of those visits. Watch below or on YouTube: