How to Turn Your Website’s Homepage into a Money-Maker
Can you imagine going on a blind date and the person thinking to themselves, ”Wow, this person is beyond ugly and I can’t stand to be around them so I am leaving.” You had one chance to make a first impression and it failed. There would be little to no chance of them giving you a second chance.
The same logic applies to the homepage of your website. Once a visitor lands on your homepage you have just seconds to impress them or they are going to leave and never return.
If they leave, that’s one less conversion and the money you spent on SEO or paid ads to get that person on your website was a complete waste. Far too many businesses are focused 100% on SEO, links, PPC costs and Facebook ads click through rates. None of that matters if your homepage sucks.
Your homepage needs to accomplish several things:
- You need to make a great first impression within seconds of the visitor landing on it.
- Your homepage needs to help you convert more of your traffic, which increases the revenue and profits of your business.
- A great homepage needs to have fluid and clear navigation, which allows your visitors to quickly find whatever it is that they are looking for, whether that is information or a specific product or service.
Ignoring homepages is a big problem. I see websites that are being completely crippled by their poorly designed and functioning homepages on a daily basis. I speak to clients that have no problem with spending thousands of dollars monthly on SEO and links, but they have homepages that are so poorly put together that all their money spent on search marketing would be a complete waste.
I’ve been helping clients turn their homepages into money makers for a long time, so I felt it was time that I put together a blog on the topic. It’s a problem that I don’t see going away any time soon.
Let’s dive right into your Website’s Homepage..
Make Your Value Proposition Known & Make it Clear
When someone lands on your homepage they need to understand two very important things right away. First, they need to know what it is that you do and what you offer. Second, they need to know why they need to take action right away and why they should stay on your website. Something has to grab their attention right away and entice them enough to prevent them from hitting the ‘back’ button or closing their browser window.
Most business owners have heard the term “value proposition” before but don’t really know what it means. Here is a very simple way of understanding it:
- You need to clearly explain why your product or service is needed by whomever is visiting your website. How is it going to solve their problem?
- It has to highlight all of the value and benefits your product or service offers.
- You need to paint a clear picture of why the visitor should buy form you and not one of your many competitors (for example, free shipping or some other perk).
You have to do this with as little text (explanation) as possible. Any time you can use images and visuals to explain your value proposition you can often make it known much sooner during that initial website visit.
Create a Fun “About Us” Section Highlighting Company Core Values
You might not even think about this, but most visitors are looking for some company information before they decide to contact you, let alone make a purchase on your website. By creating an “About Us” page it allows you to build that instant credibility and establish trust as soon as the visitor sees that particular section.
You don’t even have to create a dedicated page for it. You can implement a nice “About Us” section right into the homepage design. Little things like listing the C-Level employees or the owner of the company and anything that build trust, like mentioning (and linking to) your Better Business Bureau accreditation can help to make your business completely legitimate in the eyes of your visitors.
Use this little section as a way to tell your story and highlight accomplishments. Think of it as a quick sell; you want someone that see this to be impressed and confident at the same time. They should want to contact your business or make a purchase because of how you explained your business.
Convert to HTTPS
This is something I can’t stress enough. Homepage or not, you need to give your visitors complete confidence when they are on your website. This is even more important if you are operating an e-commerce website and asking your visitors to enter their credit card information on your website.
It’s very easy to convert over and most hosts have a low cost SSL certificate option. If you want to take it a step further I would suggest getting a “green validation bar” SSL. This will display your company name in a green bar in most website browsers. A lot of consumers are now looking for that before they make a payment online. You can even get good deals on these, sometimes for less than a hundred dollars.
If you have zero technical knowledge (or just no time) you can hire a freelancer to do the conversion. The cost is minimal and it will save you the headache of trying to figure it out.
Make Your Homepage Load Super Fast
If your homepage takes longer than 2 seconds to load you need to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Nothing will turn off potential customers faster than a slowly loading homepage. Nobody has the time or patience to sit around and wait. If your website is loading slowly, the potential customer that found you in the SERPs is going to click the back button and then visit the next option.
They have zero loyalty to you. Can you blame them for wanting to find an option that gives them what they want right away? All of the links in the world are worthless if your website loads like a slow pig. There are three speed test resources that I personally use. Google PageSpeed Test, GTmetrix, and Pingdom. All three will give you a speed grade, tell you how long it took to load your page, and offer suggestions to improve your speed.
Again, just like with the HTTPS conversion, if you don’t have the time or the technical know-how, hire a freelancer. It is worth spending a couple hundred dollars to make your website lightning fast.
Create a Sense of Urgency
Most of the people that visit your website are never going to return. Sure, there are exceptions, like Amazon, eBay, etc. but for the average small business, they have one chance to convert a website visitor.
When someone lands on your website, either through a paid ad or an organic search, they have a high level of interest in whatever it is that you are offering. There will never be a higher peak, interest wise, so you need to convert them right there on the spot.
You have to create a sense of urgency.
Webinars are so popular now, so you have probably seen a landing page that was promoting a webinar and had a countdown clock saying something like, “The webinar starts in 3:32 minutes so register NOW!” That countdown timer always runs. A visitor could watch that webinar anytime, but by creating a sense of urgency their sign up rates are much higher.
You don’t want to create a fake sense of urgency, so don’t be sleazy. Most consumers can spot fake bullshit a mile away. But, something like, “Sale ends in 24 hours” could be used with a disclaimer at the bottom, stating that the website reserves the right to end the sale in 24 hours if desired.
Don’t Give Visitors Too Many Options
If your homepage has too many options, you are going to confuse and annoy your visitors. They are coming to your website for help, so guide them and make the conversion process as simple as possible. This is why so many landing pages have the navigation menu removed and the visitor only has one option. They either convert or leave.
You don’t need to be that extreme with your homepage, but you need to limit the number of options the visitor has. For example, if you have an e-commerce website you might want to give them two choices: make a purchase or contact your business. This way you either get the sale, of you get the information of the potential customer so you can put them into your automation cycle and market to them at a later date.
Include a Picture of a Real Person to Make It More Personable
There are a lot of shady companies online, especially in competitive and financially lucrative industries. They all hide behind generic websites and private whois information. They want to remain a mystery and take advantage of as many consumers as they can before their merchant account bans them.
It’s the sad reality of online business. It happens, and happens often.
Making your visitors feel comfortable and safe has been discussed a little in this post already, but this is taking it a step further. A picture of a real person behind the company on the homepage builds instant trust. Or a team picture of everyone behind the scenes. It makes your business more “real” and not just an anonymous internet company.
If you are a consultant or a one-man show, having your picture on the homepage makes you much more approachable. I want to make one thing clear: I am not talking about putting a stock image up of a person. That has the complete opposite effect. Nothing is worse than stock images trying to be passed off as real people.
Never Force Registration (…but you can offer it as an option)
It doesn’t matter if you are offering a trial of a SaaS product, or selling physical products via an e-commerce storefront. You never want to FORCE your visitors to create an account in order to complete the process.
Have you ever tried to buy something online and the store made it mandatory that you create an account with them before you were able to checkout? What did you do? You probably left, because nobody wants to be forced to create an account.
I’m mentioning this in reference to homepages because I have come across many websites in the recent months that had automatic popups that were triggered after 5 to 10 seconds on the homepage offering the visitor to create an account on the website in exchange for a coupon code. The coupon code is fine. Offer it without asking for anything in return. But asking to create an account is a quick way to push that person off your site right away.
People are going to your website to buy something, not enter into a long term complicated relationship. Make it possible for someone to interact with your website as easily as possible, with no barriers.
Your Contact Information & Navigation Must be Easy to Find
Including the correct contact information is such an easy task, but so many websites fail miserably. A lot of businesses assume their visitors don’t want to be overloaded with information, and that is true to an extent, but not when it comes to contact information.
If you only include an email address or a link to a generic contact form without any other information your business doesn’t portray any trust. Include your complete physical address and phone number in your website footer. This not only helps to make your visitors trust you, but it helps in local search as well.
You also want to have a very simple, yet easy to use navigation menu. If someone lands on your homepage and doesn’t know how or where to get to the next page, they will find another solution.
As you can see from reading this post, there are several things you need to take into consideration when building a homepage designed to convert traffic.
While you can never fully get inside the head of every visitor, you can be best prepared to give them a homepage experience that is more likely to give them a pleasant experience than not. What I can tell you is that using these strategies will greatly improve your homepage and have a direct result in higher conversions. I’ve witnessed it first hand countless times with my own clients.
I shouldn’t even have to say this, but I will: you need to also make sure all of this applies to smaller screens. You have to give your visitors on mobile phones and tablets the same experience as your desktop and laptop users. There is no excuse for not having a responsive website design in 2017.
Once you make these changes you can’t just sit back, either. You need to constantly make changes and run tests to attempt to improve your average time on site, your bounce rate and your overall conversion rate.
If you have any questions or any additional tips for improving homepages, please drop a comment below. I will do my best to reply to everyone as fast as possible.