Reports of the death of the homepage have been greatly exaggerated.
Once upon a time, the homepage was a valued part of the website. It served as the gateway to the company’s brand and was the driver of client engagement. In fact, it was so important that some companies had designated employees to manage their homepage.
Then everything changed. Along came our new best friends, “search” and “social”.
For several years now the way information is found over the Internet has evolved dramatically. Google, the dominant search engine, has continued to create more and more intuitive ways for information to be searched online.
Let’s add in the rise in social. Hundreds of social sharing platforms now exist, with the major players maintaining a stronghold on users and engagement. Indeed, in some instances, these social platforms have created entirely new ways for brands to engage with clients and prospects without them ever having to visit company’s homepage.
Thanks to leaked data from the New York Times in 2014 that showed a plunge in its homepage visitors, it soon became a commonly accepted belief that the homepage had lost its value.
Based on recent data, it has been found that as little as 5% of website visitors actually enter through the homepage, with the other 95% landing on specific pages that are mentioned via search or social media postings. This has led to marketers focusing their efforts in these areas, and rightfully so. However, ignoring the importance of the homepage can be a detriment, as it still serves an extremely valuable segment of your client and prospect pool.
Check out the following three reasons why you should not ignore the homepage:
1. Visitors to your homepage spend more time on your site.
Visitors who enter your website through the homepage signify loyalty to your brand. Based on some recent research, although only 5% of visitors come through the homepage, they actually account for 50% of all page views. This same data shows that visitors entering from search and social only view an average of three and 1.8 pages respectively per session, while visitors who enter from the homepage are more likely to view 10 to 30 pages per session. Research has shown that the longer people engage with the brand’s content, the higher the conversion rates, the larger the purchases, and the better the loyalty.
It’s true that “everything old is new again”. Companies are now starting to recognize that their homepage offers the opportunity to improve engagement with occasional visitors and convert them to loyal users. A corporate homepage is easy to personalize to provide visitors with content that will encourage them to engage, based on their interests.
2. Homepage visitors are interested in a wider range of information and offerings.
It makes sense that those visitors to your website who entered through social media or search results are there for one thing: to check out that article or product that was shared via social media postings. The visitor drops in to check out the article and then immediately leave your site.
When a visitor enters through the homepage, it is generally because they are looking for a number of articles pertaining to a specific issue. They usually have a broader scope of interests, making it easier for companies to showcase their content. Viral content, such as that shared on social media platforms, is most likely clicked on because of a compelling headline, whereas articles found on a homepage are more likely to be clicked on because of the topic.
Many publishers are beginning to recognize and knowledge that the homepage has been ignored and is largely an untapped resource. By curating content on a homepage, your business can provide visitors with the most recent and relevant articles, making it easy for them to find those topics that interest them. While search and social can deliver a visitor to your website, a compelling homepage can encourage an ongoing relationship.
3. Check your website statistics. Homepage traffic indicates your marketing successes.
There are three things to focus on when it comes to your website: developing an audience, acquiring new users, and existing client engagement.
Perhaps one of the most difficult challenges today is getting the one-time visitor to return to the website for more information after they checked out that article that they found on social media. Measuring the number of visitors who end up on the homepage after finding the site via search or social is a good indicator of how well those campaigns are performing.
Investing in a well-designed, thoughtful homepage is simply good business. Although it may not pull the traffic numbers, there are other ways to measure its value. And experience has shown that a great homepage experience can deliver an extraordinary result that search and social simply can’t produce.
Until next time…
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