The homepage is perhaps one of the most important pages on your website, not only because it garners most of the link equity and distributes it throughout the rest of your site, but also because it serves as a gateway, an access point for your visitors. However, very little has been written on the topic of “Homepage SEO”, or rather optimizing the homepage in such a way, as to allow for its maximum usability, accessibility, and “convertibility”, if I may use this term loosely.
“Frankenpage”, a term coined by Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz, refers to a process in which keyword targeting is virtually divorced from content strategy, a byproduct of which is a page that is practically illegible. But why does this happen? Why do we often try and “stuff” multiple keywords onto a single page? These and other similar types of questions are so perplexing, even Rand is flustered…
Your homepage will often serve multiple purposes, not only will it act as a “funnel” page, generating the greatest amount of leads for you business, but it will also have the greatest potential to rank for your top converting, most competitive keywords. For these reasons we often feel compelled to stuff the page with keywords irrespective of their intent and purpose.
The first step of homepage optimization is grouping or “siloing” pages on your website so as to create an information architecture that clearly reinforces the main theme of your website. This will help you avoid the need to create “frankenpages” or stuffing multiple keywords onto the same page. The trick here, however, is to keep the information architecture as shallow as possible not only for usability purposes but also to ensure every important page on your website gets the “link love” it deserves.
So think about the pages you’re linking to from your homepage. Is that footer link really necessary? Do you really need two forms of navigation? Eliminating redundancy is key. Your homepage is prime piece of real estate, don’t clutter it with junk only to confuse both the user and the bot.
The second step is to consider various technical issues which may impede the homepage’s ability to perform well in the search engines. Pay close attention to your sever side issues. Search engines, especially Google, are obsessed with speed, if your homepage isn’t returned within a reasonable time-frame once the bot makes a request, it risks being ignored as irrelevant. Also pay close attention to the various URL canonical issues, for example http versus https, www versus non-www, and of course session IDs. All of these issues may split up your link equity and prevent the homepage from performing as well.
Another important consideration for homepage optimization, especially if you are a B2B website, is how often search engines crawl or visit your homepage. Crawl rates are a no-brainer if you are a highly authoritative site like the CNN, or if you run a blog and your homepage is simply a feed of your recent blog posts, but how do you deal with this problem if your homepage is a static showcasing of your product offering? Well, one way around this is to pull in a feed of your most recent blog posts, comments, tweets, or updates in order to constantly ping the bots to come back and visit the page again.
So hopefully these recommendations will help you avoid some of the common pitfalls faced when content strategy is divorced from keyword targeting, a byproduct of which is our infomous “frankenpage”. And if I can’t convince you, well maybe Randkenstein can…
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Frankenpage – A graphic by the team at Neftis Consulting