Why Your Homepage Is Important For Your Online Shop
E-Commerce is on the rise due to more and more customers shopping online for a larger percentage of their purchases. If you have an online store and want to bring in more customers, optimizing your homepage for SEO is the most important place to start.
Your homepage is critical for SEO. It’s the page most people might link to from articles on other sites, and it’s the page that represents your company in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). As you grow your website, your homepage will become stronger over time and rise in the rankings. All this goes to say that of all the pages on your eCommerce website, you really need to pay close attention to all the aspects of on-page SEO for your homepage. This will be the foundation for the rest of your SEO strategy.
However, your homepage should not only be constructed for Google bots and other search engine spiders. You need to balance SEO tactics with an understanding that you want to make your eCommerce homepage as user-friendly, appealing, and exciting for your potential customers. After all, your ultimate customer is not Google – it’s the people who want or need the products that you have to offer.
Your homepage is the most visited page of your site, and it’s where most customers are going to get to know you and your brand for the first time. Your homepage is your best – and sometimes only – opportunity to make a good first impression with your potential customers and to establish trust. It’s also the page that people will visit most often over and over to see if you have new products available or updated offers.
Read on below to find out how you can optimize your online store homeplace in both user-friendly and SEO-friendly aspects. But as you look through this comprehensive article, remember one thing –
SEO vs Marketing, and How to Use Both for the Homepage of Your Online Store
SEO and Marketing strategies for your homepage of your online store are quite different, the reality is that they go hand in hand. SEO, and in particular on-page SEO, is much more technical than marketing, as it involves the optimization above and below the surface of your website. We recommend you to ask an eCommerce SEO agency for help with it.
Proper content marketing and PPC (pay-per-click) advertising can also be an enormous boost for driving customers to your e-commerce homepage, and while it isn’t as technical, it should be highly coordinated with your on-page SEO efforts. If you’re spending valuable marketing dollars on driving a specific niche of customers to your homepage, your homepage SEO should be fully consistent with the customers and keywords you’re targeting.
Important Information to Have on Your Homepage For Users
When it comes to making your homepage user-friendly, they should be able to see certain aspects of your business very easily and quickly. For both your customers and for SEO, there are certain structural and design elements that you need to pay attention to when creating your homepage.
Most, if not all, of the elements below, should be included “above the fold” which is another way for saying that your site visitors shouldn’t have to scroll down to see this information. A website user’s attention span is about 8 seconds long, and if you don’t capture their attention with your best material, they’re going to move on. Not to mention that the internet is – obviously – becoming increasingly saturated, so the competition is getting steeper and steeper to capture and keep loyal customers.
Here is a breakdown of the best practices for a user-friendly homepage:
Who Are You?
The first thing customers will want to know is where they are? Are they on a website that sells clothing, online courses, bedsheets, or what? If your clients can’t figure out who you are within seconds of visiting your site, there’s a high likelihood they won’t stick around to learn more.
This means including you absolutely need to include your website or brand logo “above the fold,” meaning that it’s visible to the user without having to scroll down the page.
If you’re not a nationally-recognizable brand (and even if you are), a descriptive headline about the nature of your business is also critical.
Buy or Shop Buttons
If your visitors don’t know how to buy from you, guess what? They aren’t going to buy from you. As a general rule, helping your clients find and purchase the product they are looking for with the least possible clicks. A “Shop” button in your navigation bar, along with photos and links to featured items should be easily visible on your home page.
But simply having a Shop button on the top of your site isn’t going to cut it. It also a must to have a Call to Action (also called a CTA) somewhere prominently featured on your homepage, ideally above the fold, with your buy button easy to see and click directly underneath it.
Testimonials, Reviews, and Certifications
Third-party credibility is extremely helpful for building trust and confidence in your brand. Make use of any positive reviews, testimonials, quotes about your products from industry experts, or third-party certifications by displaying them prominently on your homepage.
Include Contact Information
If a potential client wants to get in touch with you, how will they do so? Make sure it’s easy to find a contact form, email, or phone number on your site. Better yet, a floating chatbox on the bottom corner of your homepage can improve the user experience and therefore increase conversions.
Design Requirements for Your eCommerce Home Page
In addition to making sure you’ve made your homepage easy for your users to navigate, there are some technical elements you’ll need to pay attention to if you want to maximize your SEO for the homepage. Make sure your site has the following:
Good Site Speed
The “page speed” is the amount of time that it takes your page to load. This is determined by a number of factors, including your site’s server, image compression, and page file size. This is important for a couple of reasons. First, your visitors will likely not have the patience to stick around for a long-loading page (remember the 8-second attention span). If it’s taking too long to load your site, you may lose out on precious customers.
When it comes to SEO, Google has made it clear that they take site speed – and therefore page speed – into heavy consideration when ranking pages in their algorithm. Specifically, research has indicated that Google may be measuring time to first byte (TTFB) when it considers page speed. On the flipside, search engines have an allocated “crawl budget,” and having a slow page speed means that they won’t be able to crawl as many pages on your site.
How do you find out if your online store has good site speed? It’s simple, actually. Google has a Page Speed Insights page where you can enter any of your webpages, and you’ll get a score (out of 100) along with suggestions on how to improve your page.
As of 2020, mobile users account for over 50% of global website traffic. Considering these statistics, you’ll need to pay special attention to how your online shop looks on mobile devices. While having a responsive design is a good first step, you’ll likely have to customize many elements of your mobile site. That doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch or build a new sub-domain, as a good developer should be able to make the adjustments you’d need on your responsive site so it looks better on mobile.
If you’re looking for valuable tips on how to design your mobile site, Google has some excellent tips laid out in its Principle of Mobile Site Design.
Logo and Photo
This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many online sites don’t cover these absolute essentials. You need to make sure you include your site or brand’s logo in a prominent place and be sure to include a photo that will not only catch the attention of your customers but display some or all of the products you are selling.
Make sure you optimize your logos and photos as well, as this will significantly affect your page speed. Make sure that they’re no larger than they need to be and that they’re in the right file format and compressed for the web. For graphics with fewer than 16 colors, PNGs are ideal, whereas JPEGs are best for photos.
On-Page SEO Optimization For Your Homepage
Aside from the absolute basics above, there are a number of things you can do to optimize SEO for your eCommerce homepage. Follow the best practices below:
First, Do Your Keyword Research
The term “keyword research” refers to the process of finding out which keywords, i.e. search terms, people would use when looking for something relevant to your company on the internet. In other words, these are the words and phrases someone would type into the text box on Google, Bing, Yahoo, or any other search engine.
Doing keyword research for your industry and target market is absolutely crucial. You need to know what types of phrases your ideal customers are entering into search engines so you can cater your homepage content to rank higher in those corresponding search results.
However, keyword research for an e-commerce website is a bit different than finding keywords for a “normal” website, since the goal is conversions and purchases, rather than simply traffic. Rather than general short keywords that may simply indicate the beginning of a search for a product, it’s a good idea to target more specific “long tail” keywords that may indicate an intent to purchase. For example, if you sell running shoes for marathoners, simply targeting the keywords “shoes” or even “running shoes” may be good for traffic, but might not get you the targeted audience you’re looking for. Rather, keywords such as “marathon racing shoes men” or “best shoes for marathon races” (and other variations based on your research) would be better to target, because they are more likely to indicate the intent to purchase.
One of the best places to start finding long-tail keywords for commercial intent is actually Amazon, of all places. Simply visit Amazon and begin to type in a search term that describes your products. Amazon will immediately create a series of suggestions based on what other people are searching for related to your keyword. You can also browse through the best selling products list in your category to get ideas from the titles and descriptions of the products listed.
In addition, you can do the same thing in Google search. Simply type in your desired keywords and see what other suggestions Google shows you under the search bar. There are some other great keyword helper tools out there that you can use, such as SEMRush and Moz, to come up with some highly-targeted and valuable keywords.
Make Your Title and Description
Based on your keyword research, you’re going to want to craft your title and description, also called metatags and meta descriptions.
Your site’s page title doesn’t refer to a title or headline on the actual “homepage” of your website but rather the HTML <title> tag in the <head> of your page. It’s actually not particularly visible to visitors to your website (it’s displayed on the top “tab” of your web browser).
Even though your customers likely won’t notice it, it’s absolutely crucial for your SEO and should incorporate the best keywords you’ve identified in your research. Search engines will use your meta title for the link text for your homepage’s search result.
Your description is the paragraph that will show up after the title in your page’s search results. There are a number of things to think about when optimizing your description, but most importantly, you want to make it relevant and compelling by including the long-tail keywords you’ve researched. After all, you want potential clients looking to buy to really want to click on your link if they stumble across your site in search results! This is your “elevator pitch” to users.
For an in-depth guide about optimizing your site’s title and description, visit our post about on-page SEO here.
Write A Useful Article About Your Store
One of the biggest mistakes many e-commerce websites make is that they don’t have any substantial text content on their homepage, choosing instead to focus on images. While visually appealing, this does not help SEO.
Rather than focusing simply on images, write a useful article, being sure to utilize your target keywords, that will help search engine spiders understand the content on your home page. Just make sure that the content on your homepage is unique and not borrowed from another article, page on your site, or anywhere else on the Internet.
The structure of your article is very important as well. Make sure you utilize a clear hierarchy of headlines (H2, H3, and so on) which will help search engine bots understand the structure of your article. You’ll notice we didn’t include H1 in the previous sentence. That’s because each page on your site – including your homepage – should only have one H1 tag. Save that for the main headline at the top of your site.
Writing in a clear, concise manner with a well thought out structure is also easier to understand and more engaging for your clientele. Consider writing a full outline of your content before writing your paragraphs.
Technical SEO For Your Homepage
In addition to the basic on-page SEO mentioned above, you’ll need to dig into some technical aspects of your site to maximize your SEO as much as possible. Here are three critical aspects of technical SEO to pay attention to:
If you have an e-commerce website, it’s absolutely essential for you to have a Secure Certificate, i.e. a SSL, installed on your server and properly configured.
First and foremost, you want your potential customers to have trust in you, and having an SSL installed will ensure that all information – such as usernames, credit card numbers, order information, and addresses – are transmitted via a secure server communication.
In addition, it’s actually relatively good for SEO. Having an https (which is what you get when you have a secure server) is a known ranking signal and is an easy way to give your ranking a slight boost.
If your website isn’t an https, you’ll need to migrate to one without losing the SEO progress you’ve made so far.
Structured data is an increasingly important element to address when it comes to your homepage’s SEO. Structured data helps search engine crawlers understand the context of your site, beyond simply the content. In other words, structured data can help a search engine understand the meaning of your content – whether your page is displaying various products, showcasing various recipes, or anything else.
Utilizing the correct page titles, headlines, and structuring your page well will certainly help with this, but you’ll need to go beyond that to really maximize your on-page SEO.
Search engines have agreed to a set of something called “schemas” that webmasters can use to tag and identify data on your page so that search engine spiders can understand what your homepage is all about.
There are a number of resources to help you with creating and implementing structured data, including the following:
Schema.org – the official page to find all of the information on available schemas.
Schema Markup Generator – A great tool to help you easily create HTML structured data to implement on your site, even if you have no coding experience.
Google Structured Data Resources – This is the official site Google has created on utilizing structured data.
“Inlinks” in the footer
The footer of your online store homepage is something you can easily forget about, but don’t! There are a number of things that you should add to your footer to boost the SEO of your homepage. This is also the ideal place to include as many “inlinks,” (internal links) as is reasonably possible. Inlinks are a core component of how search engines discover and rank your website’s content.
- Links to the main sections of your website.
- Any trust logos you may have – this includes BBB, PayPal, or any brand that you’re an official representative of.
- Contact info – Make sure you include your phone number, address, and any links to your contact us page are clearly displayed.
- Your logo.
- Social Media Profile Links.
- An easy way for visitors to register for your newsletter.
Technical SEO is one of the points where you really need professional e-commerce SEO services.
Methodically implementing all of the on-page SEO elements above will have a significant impact on your homepage’s organic ranking. Moreover, if you’re smart about strategically utilizing your content and PPC marketing in a way that’s consistent with these SEO elements, you’re likely to have a lot of success getting discovered – and making sales – on the Internet.
Make sure you go through every item above – you can even use it as a checklist – to make sure you’re doing everything you can to boost your site’s chances of being visited by your ideal customers.
Are you following the basics to make sure that you have all the important information to have on your homepage for users, such as information about your store and ample calls to action to buy your products?
Have you done your keyword research?
Are you incorporating all the best practices for on-page SEO on your homepage?
Have you written a useful article about your store full of relevant targeted keywords?
Are you employing technical SEO tactics such as structured data and lots of links?
However, if this all seems overwhelming to you and you don’t know where to begin, we can help. Contact us at Catapult Revenue, and our team of experienced experts can help you successfully implement a powerful on-page SEO strategy for your eCommerce homepage.