How to Write Homepage Content
We’ve all heard the old adage, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” While the context of this quote was probably in meeting new people, the same can be said of your website’s homepage. If your homepage content doesn’t capture the attention of your users, and then keep it, your prospects will leave your website and never return. Your website is your opportunity to sell your business to a cold lead, or provide validation for a warm lead. In either case, what you communicate to these leads will determine whether they decide to take the next step—to make a purchase, schedule a consultation, or give you their email address in exchange for more information.
In this article, I will provide a few tips to help you write homepage content that’s effective, and will give website visitors a great first impression of your business, too!
The Goals of the Homepage
First let’s take a look at the goals of your homepage.
The main goals of any company’s homepage should be to:
- Tell prospects they’re in the right place
- Motivate them to take the next step
How do you tell prospects they’re in the right place without telling them “you’re in the right place” (which wouldn’t be professional!)? It starts with your brand messaging.
What is your value proposition? If you’re not familiar with this term, a value proposition is basically a statement that tells the reader not only what you do, but how you do it better. In other words, it answers the question, what sets you apart from other companies that do the exact same thing that you do? This tells your prospect they have found what they were searching for, and it will be worth their time to stick around and learn more.
One example of a company that does a great job of communicating its value proposition on its homepage is the online project management company, Basecamp. When you get to the page, the first thing you see is an attention-grabbing headline: “Chaos, Organized.” Then you read exactly what they do: “Basecamp helps you wrangle people in different roles, responsibilities, and objectives toward a common goal: Finishing a project together.” The content and layout of the page is simple, straightforward, and motivates you to investigate further.
Brand messaging is a key component of building not only a website, but every marketing campaign your company and/or your agency creates. For more information on building your brand, read the article Building a Brand to Stand the Test of Time, written by Zion & Zion’s Senior VP of Strategy, Peter Juergens.
Clarity is King
Trust me: the majority of people who visit your site don’t want to read a dissertation when they click to your homepage! Websites with too much content look dated and aren’t always user-friendly. The likelihood of people staying on a visually confusing website is very slim. It’s too easy for them to simply click the back button and go to a different, easier-to-read website of one of your competitors.
Don’t lose out on sales due to a wordy website! Here are a few ways to make your homepage content more clear and easy to read:
You may understand technical terms in your industry, but chances are your prospective customer doesn’t. Don’t try to impress visitors, it won’t give the first impression you want.
Think about meeting people in person at an event. When you meet someone who’s using buzzwords and jargon you don’t understand, you get the impression they’re a bit arrogant—maybe even rude. You can’t participate in the conversation because you don’t know what they’re talking about, and you probably walk away at the first opportunity!
The same thing will happen, virtually, with visitors to your homepage if it’s full of jargon. Choose words that are common terms that anyone can understand. If you’re not sure, have a 10 year old read your content. If they don’t understand it, your target prospect might not understand it either.
Use Subheads and Bullet Points
Break up blocks of text with subheads for different sections, and bulleted lists. This makes your content easy to scan, a benefit for readers who are in a hurry. Many people prefer to scan the subheads and bullets instead of reading paragraphs of text.
Don’t Be Afraid of White Space
White space is good! Don’t fear it. A homepage with plenty of white space looks clean and professional. Resist the urge to fill up white space with more content, it could make the page look cluttered. When it comes to homepage content, think quality over quantity.
Have a Call to Action (CTA)
Don’t expect someone to take the action you want them to take—without asking for it! Make it easy for prospects to take the next step.
Do you want your prospects to:
- Make an appointment?
- Purchase a product?
- Visit the services page of your site?
- Download a white paper or brochure (for which you should collect an email address, at least, in exchange)?
- Sign up for an email newsletter?
Make it easy for people to take the next step. After you’ve explained what your company does and what makes you the best at what you do, write a clear call to action and include a link to the page you want them to visit, or a sign up form for your whitepaper/newsletter.
You can do this more than once in the copy, too. For example, place a link or a button in the beginning of your homepage copy (above the fold, i.e. where someone can see it before scrolling down) that encourages people to learn more. Some visitors to your website may be ready to do business with you today—because they’re in a hurry to meet a deadline, or they’re already familiar with your company and services.
Just remember not to get carried away with your calls to action. You don’t want to have a link in every paragraph or a form here, there, and everywhere. And whatever you do, resist the temptation to put a pop-up on your homepage! Not only can these tactics make your website seem “spammy,” but they’re annoying. Most people will leave your website if they’re immediately bombarded with pop-ups and spammy links all throughout your copy.
Don’t Forget About SEO!
Content Marketing and Search Engine Optimization go hand-in-hand. While you want to write quality content on your homepage that engages your audience and motivates them to do business with you, you also have to make sure search engines are finding keywords in your content so that your site can be found.
Keywords should be related to the products and services you offer, so that when someone does a search in Google or another search engine, they (hopefully) see your website on page one of the SERPs (search engine results pages). For example, if you have a sales training business that caters to the auto industry, you should write key phrases such as “sales training for the auto industry” or “automotive sales training” in strategic places in your copy.
Again, don’t overdo it. Work keywords into your homepage content so that they flow naturally when you read it. You could begin your homepage with a simple question such as “Looking for automotive sales training that works?” for the auto sales training example. Then use a different keyword or two in the rest of your content so that it reads well, and doesn’t look like you’re trying to engage in “keyword stuffing,” an old-school SEO tactic that definitely doesn’t work anymore (thanks to Google’s changing algorithms)!
A good rule of thumb: if the keyword placement benefits the user, Google will view it as beneficial as well. If it hurts the user’s experience, Google may penalize you.
Just like with the calls to action, you want to avoid looking spammy. This will benefit your website’s users, as well as search engines, who are constantly scanning websites for relevant content to show to searchers. If your website has keywords that people are searching for, and doesn’t have them in every other sentence, the search engines will reward you with better rankings in the search engine results page!
For an in-depth guide on SEO for your website, I highly recommend the article What is SEO?, written by Zion & Zion’s Associate Director of SEO, Ben Holland.
For more information on making your website search-engine friendly from the “search engine of search engines,” AKA Google, I recommend reading Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide.
With these tips and resources, you are well on your way to writing homepage content for your website that attract leads and increases revenue for your business!