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In our last blog post, we talked about how Google’s ever-changing SEO rules have led to a greater emphasis on websites having Google Analytics. The information in Google Analytics factors into Google’s SEO algorithm, meaning that it can have a big impact on your pagerank. In 2014, your bounce rate, how much time visitors spend on your website, and your most popular pages all can affect your SEO.

This is actually great news for business owners trying to blaze a trail online. Now you can work on your conversion rates and your pagerank at the same time! You no longer need to divide your attention, resources, and funds between those two goals. Instead, the same methods that will keep visitors on your site and encourage them to buy products are what will entice traffic to your website in the first place!

However, our resident SEO expert, Aubrey, has found during many of her site audits that website owners all seem to be making the same simple but deadly mistakes on their homepages. Many of these mistakes can cause a potential customer to leave within 30 seconds of landing on your homepage; others won’t chase away your traffic necessarily, but they will fail to convert them into paying customers.

If you’re having trouble lowering your bounce and exit rates on your homepage, fix these mistakes before you make another move:

1. Your homepage has no clear calls-to-action/ too many calls-to-action. Every website has an objective. In fact, every individual page on your website has its own objective. You want your readers to buy, call, visit in person, fill out a form, check out another page, comment, follow on social media, etc. Calls-to-action help move traffic to complete your objective. “Buy now,” and “call us today” are compelling CTAs that move your visitor to action. However, too many CTAs can come across as demanding. Visitors don’t like to be shoved into action so much as gently directed. Stick to one desired objective you want the visitor to complete and use a primary and secondary CTA only to guide them there.

2. Your homepage does not have enough content/ too much content/ over-optimized content. Too little, too much, too optimized. Yup, your content needs to be just right in order to convert a visitor into a customer. Too little content gives the visitor nothing to browse. Without enough information, they will be quickly leaving your website with questions unanswered. However, too much content can either bore your visitor or distract them.

To add more content, simply diversify: include pictures, videos, and text on your homepage. If you have too much content, try to streamline your information. Eliminate unnecessary text or move it to another location (such as a product or FAQ page). The “just right” amount of content will depend on your industry and your website’s current metrics.

What does it mean when your content is too optimized? It means that search engines, particularly Google, will view your site as spammy and penalize your SEO. Content is too optimized when there are too many keywords, too many backlinks, and there is redundant anchor text. Instead of trying to cheat the system with over-optimization, look at your homepage the way a user would. Are they annoyed with the repetition? Are they bombarded with too many links within the text? Make your content easy and enjoyable for your visitors.

3. Your homepage has no rich media/ not optimized rich media. “Rich media” is sometimes referred to as “interactive media,” because it engages your visitors a ton more than text ever could.

The rich media you need on your site includes images and videos. Homepages with rich media on them keeps visitors on your page for longer and encourages them to return to your site. The reason is simple: pictures and videos are a lot easier for people to digest. They don’t take as much work as reading does. And while this may be a sad commentary on our society, you need to use it to your advantage. It’s also an excellent way to better explain your product – how could you possibly beat literally showing your customers what your product does in a video?

Your rich media can also aid your SEO. Graphics, videos, pictures, even podcasts are all crawled by Google’s spiders. In order to optimize your rich media, you need to name your files using your searchable keywords; use the “alt image” tags; and fill in the caption space.

4. There is no social information on your homepage. Your phone number, address, and other contact information need to be clearly visible in an intuitive location on your homepage. If it isn’t, this is the simplest, quickest way you can improve your SEO and conversion rates. Go do it. Now. Put your contact information at the top of the page or the bottom, somewhere customers know to look for it. Information like this is tracked by Google, and it will aid your local SEO rankings. Putting buttons for social media accounts on your homepage is also important because it will help you gain more followers and fans.

5. Your homepage auto-plays music or videos. The most common complaint on Facebook right now is that videos now automatically start playing on a user’s newsfeed without them pressing a “start” or “play” button. That is auto-play, and if Facebook can’t get away with it, neither can you. Auto-play startles and annoys your visitors. It’s also reminiscent of old MySpace accounts made by teenagers – using it on your homepage will make your appear immature and spammy. Whatever you do, just stay away from it.

6. The colors on your homepage are not appealing. Fortunately for marketers, tons of research has been done on the psychology of colors. In one study called “Impact of Color in Marketing,” researchers found that 90% of snap decisions to buy a product are made based on the color of that product. The colors on your homepage affect how your business and your product are perceived: for instance, blue can invoke a feeling of trustworthiness, which is why it is commonly used by many tech companies (including Facebook).

However, there is no one single color or color combination that has proven to be best. The optimal colors for your homepage will depend on your industry, your message, your products, and your tone as a business. For instance, a business that strives to convey an air of professionalism would use muted colors, while a business that wants to appear youthful and exciting would use bolder colors.

Whatever you decide, use colors that are analogous or compatible. It may help to consult a web designer or an artist when creating your website.

Sources:

Meher, Jessica. “20 Critical Do’s and Don’ts for Clickable Calls-to-Action [SlideShare].”

http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/34014/20-Critical-Do-s-and-Don-ts-for-Clickable-Calls-to-Action-SlideShare.aspx. (28 Jan. 2014).

“Do You Have Enough Content On Your Website.” http://www.qwconsulting.com/blog/do-you-have-enough-content-on-your-website.html. (28 Jan. 2014).

Bond, Lexie. “Search Engine Over-Optimization.” http://www.bluecorona.com/blog/search-engine-over-optimization. (28 Jan. 2014).

Zimmerman, Jan. “Using Rich Media in Your Marketing Web Site.” http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/using-rich-media-in-your-marketing-web-site.html. (28 Jan. 2014).

“How to Optimize Images for the Web.” http://www.razorsocial.com/optimize-images-for-web/. (28 Jan. 2014).

Ciotti, Gregory. “The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding.” https://www.helpscout.net/blog/psychology-of-color/. (28 Jan. 2014).

Principles of Design: Color and its meaning.” http://www.lemonheaddesign.com/design/principles-of-design-color-and-its-meaning/. (28 Jan. 2014).