It’s not all about the home page

The most visited page on your company website will be the home page. Of course it will, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s the page which most of the links from other websites point to. Secondly, a huge number of website visitors only come to look up your contact details, and they do this by first typing your company name into Google. Thirdly, people navigating around your site repeatedly go back to the home page.

However, when it comes to generating new business prospects from search engines, it’s not the home page you should be thinking about. It’s a class of page which can be two levels down from this. Lurking under the home page (and possibly under a “products” index which it might link to) are a series of “product category” pages, one for each class of product your company sells.

If I ask you what search terms you’d most like to rank highly for on Google, you’d choose the titles of those pages, such as “blue widgets”. Your “product category” pages are the primary pages on your site about those terms. They’re the ones that you should be promoting in the search results. Google ranks pages – in part – by the number of links to them. If 95% of the external links to your site are to the home page, it’ll be considered by far the most important page on the site. Your page about “blue widgets” is something of an also-ran.

Now (and I’m getting very simplistic here), imagine Google gives sites ratings, and yours scores 8/10. Imagine your competitor’s site only scores 5/10. However, what if your competitor’s site is totally focused around its particular page describing blue widgets? For a search on that topic, Google knows exactly what page to show from that site. But on your site, it’s not so sure. There’s a page which is about blue widgets, certainly. But there’s a much more important page (your home page), even if that barely mentions blue widgets. Which should it show? Hmm, maybe rate both equally at 4/10. Hang on, that’s not as significant as the competitor’s page, is it? You get the drift.

What you need to do is to list the searches you want to rank highly for on Google, allocate one of your website’s pages to each term (it’ll be fairly obvious in most cases), and really work hard on telling Google that this is the page which it should be showing in its results. Treat it as if it was the “home page” of a site all about that subject. Get the term into the title, tags and content, of course. But more importantly, start building links on other sites, clearly related to “blue widgets”, pointing to that page, not your home page.

This is how exact match domain sites work: sites which are named after, and are all about, a specific search term. People often ask me if such sites are worth setting up. They could be, but you actually probably already have a page on your site which could be fulfilling the same role, and probably doing it even better.

As an example, there’s a page buried in our website about 4-20ma Aerospace Widgets. You may recall me writing about this page before, and every time, I link to it with those words. Look, I’ve just done it again. There’s not much competition on Google for that search, of course, but Google keeps being told there’s an on-topic page on our site and consequently points straight to it, not even diverting its attention for a moment to whether our home page might be a more suitable result.

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