Do a Google search for “are homepages important anymore” and the top results might have you thinking that no one ever visits your homepage.
Your homepage might be the top landing page if you’re a business-to-business (B2B) site with a healthy balance of web traffic: search traffic, referral traffic, direct traffic, and other campaigns. However, much of the traffic coming from search and external links takes visitors directly to the deeper content on your website — hopefully, the specific content they are looking for. For this reason, you should consider designing more pages on your website as important landing pages than you might have previously thought.
The majority of visitors to media company websites and blogs arrive directly at article pages, rather than the homepage. According to Nieman Journalism Lab, “Eighty-Eight percent of traffic to The Atlantic comes in sideways, meaning just 12 percent of site visits begin on the homepage.” Atlantic Digital Editor Bob Cohn wrote that the homepage serves an important purpose as the “ultimate brand statement,” but is not as important as a place to drive traffic.
Let’s Look at the Data
Sixth Man Marketing took a look at data from our clients’ websites to see what percentage of visitors are landing on homepages. Here’s what the data shows based on our sampling of websites:
B2B site average: 50 – 60%
Business-To-Consumer (B2C) site average: 20 – 40%
Blog & News site average: 10 – 20%
Especially in the B2C category, there is a lot of variance in landing page statistics. A few of the sites we looked at had extremely high or extremely low homepage traffic: as high as 98% or as low as 4% landing on the homepage. Neither of these extremes is inherently good or bad, but could indicate areas for improvement in online marketing strategies.
Extremely high homepage traffic implies that you could be missing opportunities in search, social media, content marketing, email marketing, and other external links to specific, deeper content on your site.
Alternately, extremely low homepage traffic might mean that your brand awareness in the marketplace is low and could benefit from campaigns that promote your overall brand. In a 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmarking Report, Optify found that “Branded searches (searches that include the name of the company) show the highest engagement of any other source (3.71 page views per visit) and account for 31% of all visits from organic search.”
What Should You Do?
No matter what type of business or website you have, you can begin the process of improving your website by: analyzing your web data; finding out where visitors are landing on your site; and optimizing every page so that your site can meet visitors’ needs and increase conversions. This is also a good time to check out this list of ways to annoy website users and drive them away from your site – and then make sure that your website has none of them.
Consider what happens when a visitor comes to a page from Google and does not immediately find the content they were seeking. If the page fails to give users enough information about where they are and how to get to the content they want, they will quickly leave. Shane Cassells of Google, speaking at Digital Journeys, reports that “Fifty percent of all users don’t buy something or complete an experience on a website because they can’t find what they’re looking for.”
The requirements of a successful homepage – context, strong way-finding cues, the right keywords in links and headlines, a well-designed layout – are now necessary for every page the user might land on.
Does Your Homepage Still Matter?
Yes, but perhaps not as much as you thought it did. Even if it is not your #1 landing page, your homepage still serves as the primary brand statement. It is the place many users will go if they want to understand more about you and your complete offerings. You need to make sure the homepage is engaging and useful. Just don’t expect every visitor to start there. And don’t even get me started on carousels (that topic deserves a dedicated post all its own.) 🙂
Do you want to know where users are landing on your website and what they’re doing once they arrive? Let Sixth Man Marketing help you by taking one of our upcoming summer classes:
July 18: Intro to Google Analytics
July 25: Social Media Analytics
August 1: Intermediate Analytics*
August 8: Website Usability
All classes will be at our new office location, 542 W Cataldo, Spokane, WA, and each class, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., will include a light lunch. Also included are a 90-minute additional lab (TBA), and access to Sixth Man’s analytics forum for 30 days.
*It is highly recommended that registrants for this class have taken the Introductory Analytics class.