Everybody knows the importance of making a positive first impression, but if you assume prospective customers first encounter your website through its homepage, think again. Natural search results drive users to individual pages that best match each user's search query, and often that page is not your site's homepage.
On the more than 25 websites I manage, nearly four of every 10 visitors enter the site from somewhere other than the homepage. They land on a page for a specific product or service, the About page, a page for a blog entry or even the Terms & Conditions page.
Unfortunately, most business owners and marketing managers focus 90 percent of their attention and resources on designing a stunning homepage and treat the other pages as an afterthought. Don't make this mistake. Give every page the same care and attention you devote to your site's homepage.
Check your website's analytics to identify where visitors most frequently enter your site, and ask yourself whether each page channels visitors to the information you want them to see and to the actions you want them to take. If any one of these pages fails to support your business-related goals, it's time to make some changes.
If you are unsure of your site's purpose, this is the first issue to tackle. You should have a clear purpose for your site before you build it, but if you skipped that step, formulate a purpose now.
Every page, not only the homepage, should communicate your site's purpose and steer visitors to the desired call to action. If you built the site to sell products online, every page should direct traffic to product pages. If the site's purpose is to encourage visitors to call in for an estimate, every page should include a phone number.
Remember that with the long-tail nature of search, you never know which door a customer is likely to walk through when entering your site. Make sure every entrance offers a greeting, projects an air of professionalism, presents relevant content and actively serves your purpose for building and maintaining the site in the first place.
Mikal E. Belicove is a market positioning, social media, and management consultant specializing in website usability and business blogging. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook, is now available at bookstores. For more information, visit MikalBelicove.com.