Optimising Your Homepage

facebook-adsOptimising Your Homepage

Although you don’t have to optimise your homepage for a keyword, there is still work to be done. We have mentioned a few in this article, but there are more. These are the things you can do to optimise your homepage for SEO related things:

  • Make sure the page title focuses on your brand name or main product;
  • add a clear, recognizable logo in the upper left corner for branding;
  • there should be a clear call-to-action that draws attention;
  • don’t forget to structure your menu(!);
  • provide OpenGraph and Twitter Cards for better social sharing;
  • make sure the meta description is filled out, that it explains your USP and invites the visitor to your website;
  • product images are inviting, but the page needs textual information or a great tagline as well;
  • don’t clutter your homepage with a million links. Keep it focused and don’t flood your footer or menu with these links;
  • contact details should be available for most websites, including social buttons and perhaps a newsletter subscription;
  • if applicable, add a search bar (prominent or as an extra).

This is a small checklist every website owner could use to analyse his own homepage. Have you thought of all of these?

Cornerstone content

We have mentioned the method of cornerstone content in a number of articles. The basic idea is to make one page rank per keyword (because pages rank, sites don’t). If you optimize one page, for instance using our plugin’s page analysis, and link that from all related pages, that will tell Google what you think is your main page for the keyword.

Related pages can for instance be found by doing a search in Google like:
site:yoast.com focus keyword

Of course replace the URL with your own and use your keyword. No need to link all pages that are found, even adding a link to a related anchor on four to five pages might work already. By doing to, you are basically creating a funnel to that optimized page for both Google and your visitors.

long tail keywords?

While writing our book ‘Optimizing your WordPress website’ I worked closely together with Joost in creating a section on Search Engine Optimization. The first chapter — after the introduction in SEO — had to be keyword research. ‘Keyword research is the basis of all Search Engine Optimization,’ Joost explained to me, ‘without proper keyword research, all other things are basically useless’.

Back in 2010 Joost already wrote a post called the basis of keyword research in which he states that ‘keyword research is the basis of all search marketing’. At the very least my husband is consistent! And more importantly, I think he is absolutely right [Note from Joost: yeeehaw!].

At Yoast.com, however, we did very little to provide guidance to our readers in doing keyword research. That’s a bit weird, it being the most important part of SEO and all… That’s why I would like to dwell on this subject for a number of posts, helping you understand the importance of keyword research and sharing some of our secrets in how to execute a proper keyword research.

In this post, I would like to help you understand the importance of understanding your own product and the effort you should make to rank for long tail keywords.
What is your mission?

If you want to sell something, you should simply have a damn good product! And you should be well aware of what your product or your website offers to your audience… what makes it special. If you know and understand this, it will be much easier to make your audience like and buy your stuff. You should thus take some time to think about the uniqueness of your product and write that down. Perhaps you sell cruises to Hawaii. You offer great facilities for children, making the cruises especially suitable for young parents or single moms. Offering great cruises to Hawaii for single moms could be the uniqueness of your service.This is your mission, your niche, this is what you have to offer to your audience! Do make sure you write down your mission in words that are used and understood by your audience.

Competitiveness of the market

In some markets, it is really hard to rank. Some markets are just highly competitive, with large companies dominating the search results. These companies have a very large budget to spend on marketing in general and SEO specifically. Ranking in these markets is hard. You will be unable to compete on a small budget in a market like the travel industry using search terms as Vacation Hawaii.

However, if you have your mission clear, you should be able to define what makes your product or website stand out from this market. And you should use YOUR mission in order to start ranking! Taking my example of cruises for single moms to Hawaii, would mean that you should focus on the less competitive term [single mom cruises Hawaii]. Again, use words that are used by your target audience (and avoid difficult terminologies).

Long tail keywords graphicLong tail: the more specific your keyword, the less your competition

The Long Tail

While preparing this blogpost, my husband encouraged me to read The Long Tail by Chris Anderson. The Long Tail discusses the emergence of markets (specifically markets on the internet) with unlimited supplies. Chris Anderson discovered that the true shape of demand, not filtered by the economics of scarcity shows a very long tail (see picture above). This means that demand exists for virtually every niche, although this demand can become very small. A nice example could be a jukebox with 10.000 songs. A very small amount of songs will be played very regularly, while a very large amount of songs will be played very few times. However, research shows that virtually all songs (about 98 %) are played at some point. The demand for these songs (which are large in number) is very small, but it does exist. Almost every song will be played at some point. With the emergence of the internet, possible target audiences became quite large, even if the product is only wanted by a very small percentage of the people. The wideness of the internet thus makes your niche product profitable and the ranking on long tail keywords important.

The long tail bookcover

The longer (and more specific) search terms are, the easier it will be to rank on the term. Keywords that are more specific (and often longer) are usually referred to as long tail search terms. Long tail keywords are more specific and less common. They focus more on a niche.

It is much easier to rank for long tail keywords than for more common keywords. Another benefit for focussing on long tail keywords is that, although these keywords are used less in search, the visitor that finds your website using them is more likely to buy your service or product.

The longer and more specific the search terms are, the higher the chances of conversion are. I am currently looking for a cottage in France to spend our next summer vacation. I started my search with the term ‘vacation France’. I quickly discovered I wanted to go to the Dordogne, and preferred a house in the countryside. My search still continues, but now I use terms like [vacation house countryside Dordogne]. A long tail keyword. Using this keyword, I found new sites, which more closely resembled my vacation wishes. Chances for me to book my vacation largely increased.

Use your mission to define long tail keywords

The definition of your mission, in which you make crystal clear what the awesomeness of your product, site or blog is, should be central in choosing the long tail keywords you want to rank for. Trying to make your website rank for a specific term can be quite profitable, as long as this specific term closely resembles the product you’re selling. The terms you have used to describe your mission can be nicely used to focus on in your SEO strategy. These words should be central in the long tail keywords you aim your website to rank for. People using the terms of your mission and finding your website will be relatively small in volume, but these people do have the highest chances to buy your product or to become regular visitors.

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