Creating and designing your homepage should be an exciting time for your blog. Too often, though, people become terrified of failing and eventually their creativity and excitement wanes to the point of giving up. Don’t be that person. The process of designing and optimizing your homepage is straightforward, and you can do it if you follow the instructions that below.
Please remember that content continues to be the king of the Internet because your readers come to your page to consume the information they’ve come to expect from you. Keep it relevant and informative by focusing on answers to their questions and helpful snippets of information they can use immediately.
If you’re new at web design or you’re designing your first homepage, even better! The tips and suggestions you are about to learn won’t interfere with training that may have taught older, less effective techniques.
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The layout of your blog’s homepage sometimes gets restricted due to limitations of the theme. That said, it’s better to search for a theme that allows for reasonable changes. Also, if you’re a coder, changing the theme’s design by changing up the code or adding CSS is an option.
One of the design considerations for any homepage is whether or not you intend to use a signup form. Forms have their ideal place and should always be in front of your reader, but not so they interfere with the overall look and feel of the page.
Place your signup form for your newsletter, for example, on the upper half of the homepage, above the fold, so your readers see it each time they arrive there. The fold refers to that area in the top half of the page resembling what a folded piece of paper might look like, similar to a newspaper. With the signup form appropriately located, you can rest assured that readers see it and click on your CTA (call to action) button.
As you’re filling your pages with words, remember to always write with your readers in mind, first and foremost. SEO should take a back seat while you’re writing. Just let the words flow and edit later. The idea is to get the information out in the open because you no doubt have a ton of information just waiting to get into the hands of your interested readers!
It’s normal to wonder if what you’re about to write will resonate with your readers. What if you don’t have any readers yet? No worries. At this point, it’s time to do some research on your topic. What questions are other people asking? Are the questions getting answered? Maybe you have a better answer.
Remember, you won't have every answer. People rarely do. That’s why people like you and me love to consume content. So, how do you consistently find out the questions the readers of your topic are asking? Once again, research tells you this. Useful keyword research is your best technique for learning what search terms people use to get more information.
Images and graphics tell their own story, perhaps better than we can! Take the time to find the best representative image or graphics that showcase the relevancy of your content. There happen to be many sources for copyright free images, but with restricted use in some cases. Be sure to learn the rules before publishing any picture on your site!
If you prefer, subscription image sites offer much better selections that are indexed by keyword. Some offer videos, too, if you’re brave enough to jump in and take advantage of using them. Be careful with videos, however. Prices climb rapidly for each size.
Speaking of image size, the process of designing and optimizing your homepage includes image optimization as well as SEO optimization. Page speed is a ranking factor with Google, so optimize for keywords as well as images. If your pictures are too large, they take too long to load and is a turn-off to your readers.
Don’t be afraid to add as many images as you need to. Common sense does rule here, however. While pictures speak a thousand words, too many pictures take away from the flow of the material. Keep images relevant to the content, and you should be fine. Keep in mind that photos that include people should get more attention than photos without people. Remember to keep in mind page loading times and image optimization. Image optimization plugins help, but you might find you’ll need to optimize further, in which case other techniques may be required.
I said earlier to let the words flow and edit later. After you’re finished writing and all of the information you want your readers to know is on paper (or your screen), it’s time to edit for grammar. Go over every word and phrase with your eyes on every detail. Spellcheck and comma usage is a common area where the majority of mistakes show up.
If you bold one heading, then bold all of them. Also, keep your sentences short and to the point. Try to keep each paragraph around 3-5 short, concise sentences. Short sentences assist your reader while they scan the content. Several, relevant headings also help with scanning and keep your reader interested, so they keep reading.
Regarding keyword usage, don’t worry too much about using an exact match keyword phrase within your content. The search engines crawl your content to determine the topic. As long as your topic is consistent throughout, search engines rank your site and pages on the relevancy of your content compared to the overall theme of your site.
Other ranking factors include popularity (shareable, engaging content) from other readers’ perspective, likes, retweets, and comments. A ranking is not about keywords so much anymore. Your content gets ranked based on how much your readers enjoy the content on your site and how well it answers their questions or fills a need. Concentrate on helping your readers by answering questions for them and provide them with a consistent level of the best you can deliver.
The backlinks will start to come because other sites love to link to sites like yours due to your credibility and knowledge of your topic. The search engines love to see backlinks and reward your website with higher and higher rankings in the SERPs.
Looking for those elusive keywords that bring your page or site to the top of the SERPs (search engine results pages) does help, but it’s not the Holy Grail as many people claim. However, keyword research does have its place in content creation, but it’s not the same as it was back in the early 2000s. I’ll save you from the history lesson here but suffice it to say that keyword research plays a vital role in all things SEO.
Several keyword research tools available for free and some paid ones do an excellent job at showing you the latest, most-searched-for words on your topic. Consider the words as a starting point from which you can do more research. From an SEO perspective, ranking high in the SERPs requires more than placing keywords in your content.
Keywords help the search engines find and index your work, but it’s the long-tail keywords that contribute the most. A long-tail keyword helps narrow the scope of the topic. For example, a keyword such as shoes is too broad. A long-tail version of shoes might be “size 7 red women’s running shoe.” Another version to consider is “men’s lace-up tall work boots.” Do you see how a long-tail keyword helps narrow down the topic of shoes?
Many examples exist, but I think you get the idea. Long-tail keywords usually run about three to five words in length, but many SEOs have different ideas about this number. As always, keep your focus mainly on your readers, and as long as your content is engaging and shareable, your rankings will get better over time due to the popularity of your site and its content.
Earlier, I mentioned that the process of designing and optimizing your homepage is straightforward and hopefully this post fulfilled that promise to you. The tips and techniques I've talked about here will help your content rank better in the search engines, and your readers will appreciate the extra effort to make it easier to read and more informative.