Your home page is not a dumping ground

I’m writing a shorter post this week as I’ve been hit with some crud that feels like the plague. OK, I’m sure that it’s not the plague. I’m sure that it’s just a cold. But still… it feels “plague-y” to me…

I’ve been doing a lot of surfing while I’ve been stuck on the couch – and I’ve noticed a lot of sites making the same mistake. Instead of their home page providing an excellent introduction to the company’s product or service, it serves as a content dumping ground. There is so much non-essential “stuff” screaming at the reader that the back button seems like a safe haven.

Of course, it’s not good to turn folks off on any page – but there’s something about sending people away from your home page that seems especially bad. So, for your enjoyment, here are five things that should never be dumped on your home page:

  • A honkin’ big keyphrase list below the fold.  I understand that you want your home page to be relevant for 100 different, high-traffic keyphrases. But guess what – it isn’t going to happen. And no, listing all 100 of your main keyphrases in the footer isn’t a smart way to trick Google. Unless you can time travel back to when that (spammy) technique may have worked…for a while, anyway.
  • Your mission statement. Guess what? Your prospects don’t give a hoot about your mission statement. What they want to know is what’s in it for them. Save your mission statement (assuming you really, really have to have one) for your “about us” section.
  • A list of 100 of your “most popular” products. Talk about information overload. Customers won’t buy just because you add the words “most popular” before a long list of products. Yes, it’s OK to include a “most popular” list on your home page. Just narrow it down to five or so – don’t include everything you have.
  • Detailed information about your services. Sure, use the home page to give folks a “taste” of your services. But don’t list every service you have and expect folks to read it (and respond.) There’s a better place for that information. It’s called a “services page.” I highly recommend it.
  • Long, scrolling text. News flash: I don’t want to read your 1,500 word home page. If you checked your analytics, I would guess that your prospects feel the same way. Good copywriting means writing tight, not waxing poetic just because you can. If your home page takes too much time to read, slide it down by 75%. Really. Your page will be much, much better for it.

Photo gratitude goes to: Alan Stanton

7 replies
  1. Nick Stamoulis
    Nick Stamoulis says:

    This is a common mistake. Since the homepage is viewed as the most important page, too much stuff gets crammed in. It makes for a poor user experience. All pages of a website can rank in the search engines, not just the homepage. Spread the content to different pages and optimize each page for the most relevant keywords.

    Reply
  2. Samantha Gluck
    Samantha Gluck says:

    Thank you for this. I don’t know why ANYONE serious about their small business, or a website of any kind for that matter, would trash up their home page with any of these no-nos.

    I LOVE the mission statement point. I know of a self-indulgent mommy-blogger (nothing wrong with mommy-bloggers — it’s the self-indulgent part that reeks) who has her protracted mission statement on the home pages of TWO of her websites. She even went through one of those “blog critiques” with SIS Gals and they told her it was too long and didn’t belong there. Did she remove it? Ummm…no. Self-indulgent and lonely on her website.

    People don’t care a rat’s hiney about mission statements. That is for YOU, not everyone else and their cousin — or for the handful of readers who get sick of seeing all of that mess on your home page.

    End of rant.

    Samantha

    Reply
  3. James Daniel
    James Daniel says:

    So glad to hear mission statements coming under fire. I’ve had an ongoing war with a local consultant who insists every website needs one – arguing that their very presence online is proof that they’re needed!

    Mission statements suck, chiefly because they’re full of empty corporate drivel like “we adopt a system of excellence that transpires through quality and optimum performance”.

    But even if the MS is user-friendly and added to the ‘About’ section, it’s still poisonous because (by definition) it has no WIIFM!

    Far better to start your ‘About’ page with ‘how are we geared up to solve your problem?’ and gently turn the focus from you to the customer.

    Another rant done:)

    Reply
  4. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    It should be fairly apparent by what you do say on the home page or about us page what your core values and philosophy is without ‘corporatising’ it, if that’s a word.

    Reply

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