Author: Crystal Carter
Good homepages present visitors with what they’re looking for, but great homepages do so while also working to achieve business goals as efficiently as possible.
The way you design your homepage can direct traffic to certain sections of your site, filter visitors to the appropriate pages for whatever stage of the customer journey they’re currently in, or even direct them to complete a single task (like a newsletter signup).
Each one of those objectives carries different implications for not only your homepage’s SEO, but the SEO of your site overall. In this article, we will explore the importance of homepage SEO and how it can impact your SEO activity.
Table of contents:
What is a homepage?
The “homepage” is the term used for the first page that users see when they arrive at the root of your domain. For most sites, this tends to be the one of most visited pages.
Because of the traffic homepages receive and the fact that search engine bots often crawl the homepage first, performing well here can impact your overall SEO.
What do we mean by homepage SEO?
Homepage SEO is the process of focusing your SEO efforts on improving the value of your homepage, both as a standalone page and as something that has a significant influence over your wider site and domain.
Along with the UX and copy, decisions regarding internal linking, structured data, keyword priority, and content feeds can change how your site is crawled and ranked. As such, optimizations to the homepage can include reviewing your copy, images, content structure, linking, and so on.
The aim with homepage SEO should be to think about your homepage as a uniquely important part of your SEO funnel.
Does changing your homepage affect SEO?
In a recent Wix SEO webinar, Mordy Oberstein shared a number of ways that changing your homepage can impact the brand positioning of your website.
In addition, here are three more significant ways that your homepage can affect your technical SEO:
Crawlability — Pages that are linked from the homepage will have increased crawl priority. This means that they will move further up the queue in terms of which pages Google crawls when it visits the site. Since crawl priority is a signal that helps Google understand which pages are the most important for a site, strategic internal linking from your homepage can influence how pages rank in search.
Backlinks — There are many things to consider with regards to backlink strategy, but the evergreen nature of the link is certainly a factor. And, since your homepage is the face of your root domain, there is nothing more evergreen than that. Links pointing to the homepage are less likely to be lost through link rot and are more likely to add value to your site for a long time. Sites that clearly align their homepage content and tech configuration with relevant brand keywords and information will be able to benefit the most from consistent link growth to their homepages.
CWV —Core Web Vitals are a Google ranking factor that assess how users experience your website in terms of loading time, UX, and site interactivity. These metrics are calculated in terms of the percentage of page views, meaning that 75% of user page views should pass these metrics. On smaller sites, the visits to the homepage can contribute to a large portion of that traffic, so if this page is well optimized it can help you achieve sitewide performance goals.
Examples of how different homepage styles impact SEO outcomes
Looking at five distinct but common homepage types, you can get a clear idea of how different homepage configurations can have a wider effect on the SEO of a site.
Some homepages essentially act as a conduit for funneling users to more specific elements of a brand—I like to call these pages “Funnelers.”
These pages tend to be used by brands and businesses that serve a range of audiences under the same brand name. So, users are not expected to dwell on the page but rather to move quickly to more targeted content on the same site or within the brand’s ecosystem.
A good example of this kind of page is Virgin.com, where the page quickly filters site visitors to a range of business offerings, including space travel and mobile phones.
Use this type of homepage to:
Point users to high-value content
Funnel traffic and audiences to distinct business offerings, even if they are on a different domain or subdomain
Create this type of homepage by:
Prioritizing the placement of your most popular segments
Segmenting UX with contrasting colors and distinct sections
Adding buttons with CTAs
Optimize for this type of homepage by:
Using top keywords for each segment
Using the keywords for top segments in the page title and meta description
Providing context for your segments with richer copy below the fold
How does a Funneler homepage impact SEO on the wider site?
The SEO impact of a Funneler is predominantly seen in the backlink profile of the business.
So, in the case of Virgin.com, more than 80% of the backlinks for the domain go to the homepage, which is highly unusual. This aligns with Virgin’s brand and business model because it is dynamic, but the brand and homepage remain consistent no matter how Virgin manages its segments or subsidiary businesses.
For smaller brands, this tactic can be applied to direct funnel audiences based on need (think “buyers” or “sellers”) or to help users navigate straight to your top products or services when they land on the site.
A “Converter” homepage serves to get users to complete tasks on the site (e.g., sign in, register, or purchase). This is used consistently across eCommerce sites like Amazon, Etsy, and eBay. This highly actionable homepage style aligns with brands that help users achieve goals and create solutions.
SaaS provider Later uses a Converter configuration on its homepage to great effect. The page drives traffic to its sign-up and upgrade pages. And, as is the case with many SaaS tools, when users are logged in, they can use the homepage URL to be redirected to the app itself.
Use a conversion-focused homepage to:
Reduce friction for users who wish to complete a single task on your site
Direct traffic to distinct transaction points
Create this type of homepage with:
Buttons with CTAs to drive activity to eCommerce and bookings pages
Unique selling points for eCommerce
Optimize the type of homepage by adding:
Headers with relevant keywords to contextualize forms for search engines
Context to conversion points with links to deeper content where users can learn more
Add CTAs like “Buy,” “Shop,” “Reserve,” etc. to copy and meta descriptions
How does a Converter homepage impact SEO?
Taking Later (the SaaS company mentioned above) as an example, the homepage is the single most popular page on the site, garnering 20% of site search traffic and a significant portion of PPC traffic. In terms of keywords, this page has the most ranking terms and twice as many keywords as the next best-performing page.
This is a sign of efficiency.
Later has aligned its business goals with its homepage strategy, meaning that the users who visit this page from paid, organic, and other channels are able to get what they expect from the homepage, which (in this case) is to learn about or sign up for Later’s services.
How does a Converter homepage impact SEO on the wider site?
In the case of Later and converter pages like those seen on Etsy and eBay, the conversion focus of the homepage helps to balance the overall keyword profile of the site.
So, in each case, the homepage is the top page for commercial intent on the whole domain. And in many cases, the proportion of commercial keywords on the homepage surpasses that of the wider domain by about a ratio of two-to-one.
This suggests that if you want to change the overall keyword intent for your website, then significant priority should be placed on the homepage.
An “Informer” homepage is a constantly updating source of information. These pages align well with brands that provide data and insights as a core part of their business.
A good example of this is the London Stock Exchange website, which provides up-to-the-second information on stocks and trading. Of the sites that I surveyed, this one had the most internal links, coming in with 378 internal links on the homepage.
Sites with the latest information (like surf reports, local news, weather, and other time-sensitive information) or that publish throughout the day (like news articles and job listings) should leverage internal linking well. These internal links help Google to crawl and index new content at high volume, as the content is created.
Use an Informer-style homepage to:
Show new content to Google and users as it’s created
Drive traffic to subsections of a website with similar content
Create an Informer-style homepage using:
Blog and content feeds
Strategic internal linking
Headers with keywords
Optimize for this type of homepage by:
Submitting your sitemap to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools
Utilizing RSS feeds
Focusing on link hierarchy and priority
How does an Informer homepage impact SEO?
This kind of page reflects a wider content strategy for high-frequency publishing. If this is your kind of site, then creating systematic ways to surface content is key to getting content indexed quickly, making it more likely to rank.
For example, “All the Food,” a food blog that publishes around four articles per day, uses the latest post feeds and curated blog feeds to great effect on its homepage. For users, this sends a signal that the site is dynamic and full of fresh ideas. For search engines, these feeds provide a path to the latest content, increasing the likelihood that it can start showing up in search results sooner.
How does an Informer homepage impact SEO on the wider site?
In the case of the London Stock Exchange, the homepage is pulling through almost 6% of the site’s overall keywords. This percentage is higher than any other site that was reviewed for this article.
This reflects the strategic value of this page for search engines. And, for high-frequency publishers that may be creating content with a wide range of keywords, we see that a homepage that is strategically focused on certain terms can help Google add context to the site overall.
A “Feeder”-style homepage works much in the same way that a directory does: with the aim of surfacing lots of content at the category or folder level. This is common for eCommerce sites that work with curated collections of links.
This style of the homepage is worth considering if you have a large collection of content that will be more accessible to users when it is curated into clear groups. With these pages, the goal is to be strategic about the links that you show or target at any given time, so seasonality and localization should be considered here to add context to the collections.
Use a Feeder-style homepage to:
Surface new content as it’s created
Create a Feeder-style homepage using:
Product, blog, or job feeds
Strategic menu configurations
Optimize this type of homepage by:
Adding strategic internal linking
Adding headers and keyword copy for feed collections
Automating and adding keywords to blog summaries
Resurfacing high-performing and seasonal content
How does a Feeder homepage impact SEO?
In the case of Fandom (shown above), we see that the homepage is more of a conduit for the wider activity of the website. Compared to the other homepage types that were reviewed, the Fandom homepage had the lowest proportion of:
Total site backlinks going to the homepage
Total site keywords originating at the homepage
Total traffic to the homepage
While this may seem counterintuitive, it is actually fitting for the overall objective of Fandom’s website, which is to drive traffic across its network of content. Depending on your objectives, a strategy of shifting traffic from the homepage across your wider site can form part of an effective SEO approach.
How does a Feeder homepage impact SEO on the wider site?
Since a Feeder homepage does not aim to be a destination page, it is something that should facilitate the SEO performance of other pages across the website.
Through strategic internal links, the page can add value to the subfolders that matter most. Fandom was the largest domain that I reviewed, with over five million ranking pages and many of the pages being generated directly by users. So, creating a directory of content categories, rather than showcasing every piece of new content (as with the Informer) allows Fandom to drive traffic to new content folders and to drill down further from there. This helps homepages for larger sites to remain organized, but also responsive to seasonal needs and trends.
A “Billboard” homepage is a page that is visually fairly sparse and often includes very little crawlable text. Some pages (e.g., The Potter Trail, shown above) will use this tactic above the fold and then add more links as users scroll down the page. But larger companies, like ZARA (shown below), can rely heavily on the strength of their brand recognition and use a billboard for the full structure of the page.
At first glance, this page seems like there is very little going on, but in actuality, the page has stripped back the text and other content in order to direct users to take a single action (in this case, selecting a local region from a dropdown that creates a number of backlinks across the domain). When used wisely, this highly focused tactic could be applied to send users to a promotion or event.