It used to be that if you had an online business, your website is the equivalent of a shopping window. Now, this holds even true if you have a brick and mortar store.
And just like in a physical store, not all is created equal. Some shelves, or in our case pages, are more important than others. You probably heard about the 80/20 rule or Pareto principle before. 20% of your efforts will bring in the results while 80% of your efforts are just there for filler or worse as a distraction to your readers.
So how do you apply this to your website? Which pages are more important than others? And to which pages should you be paying the MOST attention to get the quickest and best results for your business?
Before we look at the individual pages lets first get yourself in the proper mindset to test and evaluate the current content on these pages and make you understand how you can improve them.
When trying to optimise something for a particular goal, it is easy to overlook the bigger picture. And by ignoring the bigger picture and just trying to focus on one item (like SEO), you might forget the most important thing of all.
If you want to optimise your website for the visitor, there are two questions you need to focus on.
Question #1: What is the visitor looking for?
By default, almost all the visitors to any page on your website go there because they are looking for a certain something. It might be an interesting article they saw linking to your site, an email, a post on social media, a Google search result when they were searching for something related to your business.
Unless someone clicked a wrong link and ended on your website, they visitor is looking for something. So what are they looking for? Why did they end up on your site?
If you want to give a valuable answer to your visitor for this question, you first need to understand how they ended up on your site in the first place. Where did they come from? If you know where someone comes from then, you’re already halfway there to help understand what it is they are looking for.
Did they end up on your website via a search engine? (and if so what is the search term they used?) Did they end up on your site via social media? (and if so who shared certain content and with which context?) Did they end up on your website via an email (and if so, which campaign?) Or maybe even just from an internal link, and what page were they on before?
If you know where a visitor came from it makes it easier to assess what is the information they want to know. Any page on your website can bring in a huge amount of information to the reader, but of course, you don’t want to overwhelm them. You want your visitor to get to know something so they might take action with you based on what they learned.
Less is more.
The more different types of information you’re serving to your visitors the less likely it will be for them to remember it. Or they might simply run away because they can’t find the specifics they are looking for.
Now we know what your visitor is looking for on a page that she lands on, it’s time to move on to the next question.
Question #2: What is my (business) goal for this visitor?
When your visitor is served with the information he or she was looking for; they are ready to potentially give something back to you. It’s time for you to ask something of them. We know, “sales” is a scary word, but in any shape way or form a business needs to gets leads, which might turn into sales at the end of the day to be able to survive.
This is one of the places where most businesses fail. One of the most critical components of any page on your website is the Call-To-Action (CTA). If there is no CTA on your pages how can you ever convert visitors into customers? As a general rule of thumb for your website, you will need at least on CTA per page.
The goal of your home page isn’t for people to see your nice and shiny logo and move away again. The purpose of your product page isn’t for people to get some specifications and leave. The goal of your Content Marketing isn’t for people to just consume content. It is for building brand awareness, for building an expert status in your niche.
Every page on your website should have a goal. When people are consuming your content, they get better informed, and when they get better informed it requires a response. What is that reaction of the visitor going to be? What do you or your company want to get out of each visit on your pages?
Only when you know the answer to the above two questions can we start moving on to the next phase.
Looking at the pages of your website, which ones are the MOST important? Which ones have the ability to drastically improve your business results when optimised correctly? Every website and every company is different of course, but here are the four most important (and generally speaking most-visited) pages on any site:
The homepage is probably the most obvious one on the list to start with. And you can probably already guess why this is. Your website’s homepage is often the first impression someone will have with your company online. Visitors will stay on this page for only a few seconds before they decide whether to stay a bit longer and move over to other pages or leave your website again.
This means that if you make a wrong impression, the engagement you can have with a potential customer can easily end prematurely. Next, to that, it is also the first and most important page for search engines to help understand the purpose and the function of your site.
So how can you optimise this page?
Include a strong value proposition above the fold on your homepage together with strong design elements. It could be a visually appealing photo, an interactive animation, or just your brand colours in a way that works great together with your copy. Your goal here is to grab the visitors attention and explain the purpose of the website, of your company, together with the values of your brand.
That is a lot to do, in so little space. So be sure to adhere to the less is more rule from above. The focus here is to make your visitors feel welcome, to create an immediate positive feeling with your brand. Don’t forget to include precise navigation to let them move further along your website.
The question to ask yourself is: How are you making your visitors and potential customers feel when they first see your website.
After the homepage, when a visitor has already some preliminary understanding of your brand and website, the page they visit most frequent after is the “About Us” page.
It is crucial because for a lot of people this is most of the times the second page they visit. The page where they will learn more about your products, services, and where you can build the trust for your company. What is it exactly that you’re doing?
The “About Us” page isn’t just about delivering more information. It is about engaging with your visitors on a deeper level. For a lot of people doing business on the web can feel impersonal, but it doesn’t have to be.
Don’t waste your visitors time with more words about your commitment to quality, empty words that serve no purpose and will drive your visitors away. Content such as a short video straight from the heart of you, the founder, or some witty home-made animated gifs can make everything a lot more personal.
So how can you optimise your About page?
When you write your “About Us” page, go back to that first question. What does a visitor want to know? They want to know your:
- Your values – does your way of thinking aligns with theirs?
- Your credibility – do you have relevant experience and proven success?
- Who you REALLY are – are there a real person behind the website, a person they can relate to and trust?
The question to ask yourself is: How are you using your “About Us” page to convince people with your brand story?
We already know about the importance of fresh content on your website. Blogging is how your business can distinguish itself as a thought leader in your field.
Doing content marketing, and having a blog on your website helps with four important pillars:
- Search results. Search engines love fresh content. The more regularly you update the content on your site, the more preference they give to you. While the Home Page and the “About Us” page are mostly static pages, this is the space on your website that can frequently be updated.Creating content also helps with the generation of backlinks, people linking to your content from their site, which in return again helps with search ranking.
- Engagement on your site. Of course, you want people to spend longer and more time on your site. If there is not much to be found on your site, it makes it difficult for them to warrant an extended stay. When you keep adding more and more content, you’re creating a big library of information your visitors can read and dive into.The longer a reader spends on your site, the greater the chances of them starting to trust your brand, the bigger the chances of them starting to engage, and as a result, the more likely they are ready to start buying from you.
- Relevant visitors. Just creating content for the sake of content creation is never a good thing of course. You need to tailor your content to a particular Buyer Persona.So when you create content around topics that are in line with your business, in line with the problems that you’re trying to solve with your product or services, you will start to attract better-targeted visitors. You start to get traffic from people who are your ideal customers.
- Reputation. Sharing your expertise with the world helps build trust. Over time, you start to be known as someone who offers value and can help their market
So how can you optimise your blog?
What you want from people consuming your content, is engagement and exposure. Make sure to include sharing buttons next to your content and a great CTA related to the topic that you’re writing about. This can be a related email course or white paper that you created for which people need to opt-in. Or just a request for them to leave their email address to be kept informed when new content is published.
The question to ask yourself is: Is the content I’m creating relevant for my target audience, is it helping them solve their problems?
Having all the previous pages improved, delivering great information to your visitors is great, but if they want to contact you after visiting those pages and they can’t, you’re going to lose some potential new business.
The “Contact Us” page of any website contains some of the most valuable information on your website and helps to get people over the edge by building that last piece of trust. Potential buyers want to know how they can reach you, and they don’t want to search for it. The easier you make this for your visitors, the more trustworthy it will be, after all, if I can easily contact your company it means if something goes wrong I know you’ve got my back.
Having an easy to locate contact page shows your visitors that you’re open to communicate and meet new clients.
So how can you optimise your “Contact Us” page?
Your “Contact Us” page is more than just a way for people to contact you or display your opening hours. You should encourage your visitors to communicate with you about ANYTHING. Put all the necessary contact details above the fold, include testimonials to help build more trust. Add a personal element to your copy, etc., etc. It’s fine if you only prefer to get contacted by your contact form. But if possible, always try to include multiple options, like adding a phone number or an instant chat window.
The question to ask yourself is: What information can I add to my contact page that encourages visitors on my site to get in touch and start a conversation with me?
Over time, your website will grow bigger and bigger. New products are being launched; new content is being written. As a result, sometimes it might not be the easiest for people to find exactly what they are looking for.
Search Results page
Does your website have a search function? If not, you should be looking into adding this. Because if people can’t find what they are looking for, they might be gone forever. Having a good search function might sometimes be better than the best navigation.
So how can you optimise your “Search Results” page?
By making sure that the results returned are the right results to someone’s search query for starters. Make the result page clean, and easy to navigate. Maybe add some related items to the search result as well and not only answer the direct question people are having. Too many result pages are terribly designed and often overlooked.
People are arriving on that page because they are eager to learn more but they can’t find what they are looking for. Make it clean and easy to navigate.
The question to ask yourself is: Is the information displayed on my search results page attractive enough, and easy to navigate to end up with the content I was searching for?
404 Error Page
The last page we want to look into and start optimising is the one page that hopefully nobody ever ends up on. The 404 error page. The most underrated page on any website.
You might think we’re crazy, but everyone knows how frustrating it can be that after clicking on some links on a website you end up on that dreadful error page. “You appear to be looking for a page that does not exist”. And immediately you feel like an idiot. It causes someone to leave your site.
Any business, big or small, nobody wants to lose out on a potential sale because of a 404 error. Regardless how careful you are, how simple your site is, or how smart your customers are, there is always a probability that people land on this page. You can, however, optimise the negative experience people might encounter on that page and turn that potential leave into a win for your organisation.
So how can you optimise you “404 Error” page?
- Make it more personal. Instead of presenting a boring, very technical page. Why not turn this page into a smile on the visitor’s face?Try adding a little bit of compassion, or a bit of humour? By making it more personal, you can show that you feel the pain of the visitor and help them.
- Highlight your contact information. Either there is a mistake somewhere on your website (maybe a broken link), or the visitor made a mistake. Either way, the best way for a lot of people to help them solve their problems is giving options to talk to another human being who can assist them. By including your contact information, you can show that you feel their pain and that you’re there to solve the issue.
- Guide them towards the most viewed pages on your site. A simple list of your most favourite pages can already help a lot too. A lot of times this might just be the thing they were looking for.
The question to ask yourself is: How can I deliver some happiness to someone who ended up on the dreaded error page? How can I still give value to them and not make them leave with a bad feeling?
So there you have it the six most important pages on any website and how you can optimise them for instant success. This list, however, is not conclusive; it is a general list for all website. At your company, however, there could be individual pages that are of equal importance.
Look at your most visited pages, figure out why people are visiting those, give them what they want and ask them for an action in return.
One final piece of advice: don’t think that your work is done after optimising these pages. The world is continuously evolving and your most popular pages today, might not be that popular anymore in a couple of months.
Just like with every piece of online marketing, you’ve got the ability to test, to learn and to keep on improving and making adjustments.