Your website’s home page is arguably the most important page on your entire site. But it can also be the most difficult to write.
One of the most common struggles when writing your home page is narrowing down content to present the right information to the right audience at the right time.
Because your home page is the top of your website funnel, it needs to give a complete overview of your company, products and services, team, and USP.
It also needs to be optimised for your SEO keywords and be targeted at first time visitors (unaware / problem aware).
To make sure you nail your home page content, here are our four top tips for writing your website home page:
- Send a clear message (and do it fast!)
- Write for your audience
- Work with clearly signposted modules
- Target the right SEO keywords
Let’s take a closer look at each step…
Send a clear message (and do it fast!)
The most important decision you need to make before you write your home page is what message you want to convey.
Studies have shown that an average website has a conversion rate of around 3% (even lower for many websites). That means – on average – 97% of your website visitors leave within three seconds of landing on your site. And most never come back.
The reason most visitors bounce out of a website so quickly is because the content doesn’t immediately engage them. In other words, the message simply doesn’t captivate their attention or compel them to have a poke around.
If you want to write a home page that engages your audience and moves them closer to the point of conversion, it’s crucial to send the right message and do so fast.
But how do you know what message to send? It helps knowing that your site visitors are generally a task-oriented audience who are looking to solve a certain problem. If you can (quickly!) show them that you can help them solve their problem, then you may be in with a chance. If you fail to show them how you can help, then chances are they’ll bounce back out of your site and never return.
In other words, you need to make it immediately clear what you offer and, more importantly, how it benefits your prospect. Image they are asking themselves the question “What’s in it for me” and then give them a clear and compelling answer.
The main thing that will make your answer compelling is your value proposition. A value proposition can be defined as the benefits of your product or service minus its costs. Or, in other words, it’s the pros minus the cons perceived by an individual buyer.
Value proposition = Pros – Cons
A potential buyer will weigh up the pros and cons before making their buying decision. So make sure your value proposition clearly communicates the benefits of your product or service!
To ensure that your value proposition captures your audience’s attention, make sure it’s the first thing a visitor sees when landing on your site. Ideally, your main headline should convey your value proposition in condensed form, and your introduction blurb should elaborate on these ideas. Resist the urge to scatter your focus and touch on too many things, as this will just confuse visitors and dilute your value proposition.
For step-by-step guidance on how to nail your value proposition, read our full post here
Write for your audience
If you try being everything to everyone, you end up being nothing to anyone
A common pitfall we see with home page copy is that businesses cast their net too wide. Instead of pinpointing their target audience and writing specifically for this group, they try to write for everyone.
The problem with this approach is that when you try to appeal to too many different audiences at once, your message gets watered down to the point where it becomes confusing or meaningless to everyone.
That’s why it’s important to understand who your audience is, so you can zero in on the right benefits and appeal to them. This makes it a lot easier for you to connect with your audience and, ultimately, get them to buy your product or service.
But how do you know what will appeal to your audience?
One of the main things to consider is their stage of consumer awareness. In other words, how much do they already know about your product or service. Understanding your audience’s stage of awareness allows you to join the conversation in their head and guide them forward from there.
Since your home page is the most general page on your website, it’s a good idea to write your home page copy for problem aware consumers. That is, people who know they have a problem and are on the hunt for possible solutions.
The job of your home page is to show them that you offer possible solutions to their problem, and then guide them down the path that’s most suitable for them. (I.e. guide them towards your product or services pages where they can become solution aware and – ultimately – make their buying decision).
You can read our full article on how to target your copy at the different stages of consumer awareness here.
Work with clearly signposted modules
The reality is that very few of your website visitors will read your website copy from top to bottom. In fact, most won’t even make it past your main headline. So it’s crucial that you structure your home page copy in a way that’s easy to skim read.
To avoid rambling on and on – ending up with mammoth paragraphs full of repetitive or redundant information – it’s a good idea to work with sections, modules and sub-headlines. That will help you stay on topic and organise your website content in a logical way.
So what are the modules that make up an effective home page? In short, you can work with headlines, sub-headlines, intro copy, images (and image captions), calls to action, benefits, and social proof.
Let’s take a look at each of these modules in more detail.
Use your headline to convey your value proposition
Your headline is the most important piece of copy on the page, and it only has about 3 seconds to grab your prospects’ attention. That’s why you’ll want to lead with your main value proposition.
If you can condense your unique selling proposition (USP) down into a short message, you might want to include it in your headline too. This will immediately make you stand out from the competition. But don’t force it at the cost of clarity.
On that note, don’t burden your headline by trying to make it clever or catchy. This can be distracting and takes away from the clarity of you message.
The best rule of thumb for your headline is to keep it simple, clear, and powerful (aim for 12 words or less).
Use your sub-headlines to expand on your main headline and break up your body copy
If you feel like keeping your headline to 12 words or less is a struggle – rejoice! You can always flesh out the message in your headline with a sub-headline. For instance, if your headline presents your value proposition but not your USP, you can use the sub-headline to add your USP into the mix.
Another great use for sub-headlines is to break up long sections of body copy. Since sub-headlines are effective eye catchers, you can use them to signal important pieces of information to your readers. Even readers who are only skim reading your site are more likely to read sub-headlines than body copy, so use them to scatter your value proposition throughout your site.
To check if your sub-headlines are effective, read through your page ONLY reading the sub-headlines. Then ask yourself whether they tell (a condensed version of) the full story. If they’re enough to give your visitors the full picture of your message and USP, then they’re likely to be a success. If you don’t have sub-headlines or they don’t tell a complete story, then I strongly advise you to consider adding some.
Use your body copy to further expand on your value proposition
After you’ve captured your audience’s attention with your headline and sub-headline, it’s time to draw them deeper into your message. This is where you can use your body copy to make a strong case for your product or services.
The most important thing to remember when your write your body copy is that it should expand on the ideas introduced in the preceding headline or sub-headline. Although it can be tempting to introduce lots of new ideas in your body copy, you don’t want your copy jumping all over the place.
Instead, flesh out the topic introduced in your headline or sub-headline and stay focused on your main message and value proposition. Then, if you want to add more information, simply do so by adding new sections (with a new headlines) or clearly signposted sub-sections (with separate sub-headlines).
Use images and image captions to drive home the ideas conveyed in your copy
Eye tracking studies conducted on websites have found that readers’ eyes are naturally drawn to images, so it’s a good idea to use them to your advantage. Instead of just plastering random stock images across your site, think about the message you are trying to convey and then select images that drive home those same ideas.
For example, instead of selecting images that represent WHAT you do, opt for images that represent your WHY or your unique selling proposition. That way, you can use the images to reinforce your point of difference and build a connection with your readers.
Your audience is also more likely to read image captions than body copy, so don’t waste this precious space by leaving it blank. Or – worse – describing the contents of the image. Instead, use the caption to recap the message you are trying to send with the image (i.e. your why or USP).
Another point to consider is your image alt tags – a good place to mention your SEO keywords. For more information on how to integrate your SEO keywords in your image alt tags, you can read our full post on SEO copywriting here.
Calls to action (CTAs)
Use calls to action to help your reader peruse through your site and take action
Calls to action are not just the big, flashy “Buy Now” buttons we commonly see scattered throughout sales pages. Instead, they are all the logical cross-links on your site that tie your pages together. If you use CTAs well, they will help guide visitors through your site, moving them from one stage of awareness to the next until they are ready to convert.
For example, after your introductory blurb on your home page you might present a brief blurb about each of your products or services. This will help your prospects identify which product or service is the best option to help them solve their problem.
To give your customers a smooth journey through your site, it’s a good idea to add a “learn more” button to each of these blurbs that directs to the appropriate product or service page for a full description. That way, your customers’ journey isn’t interrupted by having to navigate to the right page via your main menu structure, and they can simply pick up where they left off on the page they are directed to.
This next page in your funnel will typically go into more detail, so that your customer moves from being problem aware to solution aware. Once they’re in a solution aware mindset, you can add a further call to action that either pushes for a hard sale (e.g. “Buy now”) or a soft sale (e.g. download a lead magnet).
Whether you go for a hard or soft sale generally depends on the financial commitment involved in your customers’ buying decision. If you’re selling low ticket items or services, then a hard sale can work well. But if you’re selling high ticket items you’ll need to help customers overcome a higher level of resistance through a longer nurturing process. This is where a soft sell approach can be more effective
Use benefits to show your customers what’s in it for them (and features to drive home the buying decision)
One of the most important things to bear in mind when writing your home page is to clearly showcase your customer benefits. When you focus on the benefits, you show your prospect what’s in it for them.
To write an effective home page, it’s important to understand the difference between features and benefits. Generally, benefits relate to the consumer’s emotions, whereas features appeal to their logical reasoning.
Benefits are what a product does to improve the prospect’s life. Benefits appeal to consumers, top-level executives, entrepreneurs, first-time buyers, end users, and prospects. Being able to finish your vacuuming in half the time is a benefit.Mark Morgan Ford
A proven principle of sales psychology is using emotion to sell and logic to justify. This principle suggests that you should first sell your customer on the benefits of your product or service before providing them with the features to logically justify their buying decision.
For example, if you’re a bookkeeper, focus your copy on the precious time that business owners can save using your services or the security of knowing their books are taken care of. Only once you have clearly outlined these benefits, it’s time to talk about the features of your services.
Use social proof to support your argument and overcome resistance
As humans, we are naturally sceptical. Even more so when it comes to trusting people on the internet. That’s why it’s important that your home page offers social proof that supports your argument and helps customers overcome any trust issues.
Testimonials are the best type of social proof you can use on your site because your customers are more likely to trust what other people say about you than what you say about yourself.
That’s why it’s a good idea to collect testimonials and include them on your home page.
But not all testimonials are equal. You should avoid generic and vague testimonials (e.g. “The product was great”) and rather include powerful testimonials that reinforce your value proposition. The best types of testimonials include specific information about what the client has achieved as a result of using your product or service.
Target the right SEO keywords
Once you’ve got your message sussed and your copy structured, you need to start thinking about search engine optimising (SEO) your website content.
With nearly 2 billion websites on the internet, it’s important that you have a solid strategy for getting visitors to your site. Otherwise, you’ll struggle to reach your ideal audience, even if they’re looking for you.
One of the most important strategies for getting website traffic is strategically weaving SEO keywords into your website’s content. That will help you rank well for those terms in the search engines.
To find out which words you should be targeting, you need to start by doing keyword research. This will give you a solid understanding of which terms and phrases your prospects are searching for in relation to your product or service.
If you then intentionally target these phrases in your website copy, you’re telling Google that your site is relevant for those search queries and your page will start ranking higher for those terms.
For more information on how to weave your keywords into your website content, see our full post on SEO Copywriting.
Writing a good website home page is no easy task. But it helps to understand which content you should present, to which audience, and in which level of detail.
It’s especially useful to use a modular structure to help readers skim your site and find the information that’s most relevant to them.
To ensure that your home page achieves good search engine rankings, it’s crucial to target your SEO keywords effectively. But the job isn’t done once visitors land on you page.
Since your home page is typically the top of your website funnel, it needs to be written in a way that entices visitors to explore the site. That means drawing your audience in with a clear and powerful message and giving them a smooth customer journey from the moment they land on your Home page until the moment they convert.
If you follow these basic principles for writing your website home page, your site is on the right track to becoming your number one salesperson.
If you have any questions or need help writing your home page, please get in touch with us under [email protected]
References Blanks, K., & Jesson, B. (2018). Making Websites Win: Apply the Customer-centric Methodology that Has Doubled the Sales of Many Leading Websites. Conversion Rate Experts.  https://conversion-rate-experts.com/value-proposition/  Confessions of an advertising man – https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/excerpt-confessions-advertising-man/996114  http://copyspy.com/copywriting-basics/quotes-can-learn-awai-accelerated-program-six-figure-copywriting-part-two/