With Google rolling out its core algorithm update in January 2020, SEOs across the globe are looking and reflecting on their current search results. Many will be basking in the glory of improved search rankings and increases in traffic, whilst others will be scratching their hands and trying to contemplate the sudden fall in rankings.
Sure, a drop in rankings can be due to thin content, poor quality link building, poor user experience and many other factors.
But something that Google seems to have prioritised in this update is the value of landing pages over homepages.
Why are landing pages better than ranking a homepage?
Google has got a lot smarter and with what pages and sites they want to rank. As a result, Google now considers that your homepage is almost like the ‘welcome page’ of your website. It should explain
1. Who you are
2. What you offer
3. Act as a navigation for the website
For example, if you are selling car insurance, your homepage should say:
1. Our company offers car insurance
2. A list of other products and services we offer
3. Answer some key questions
4. List some partners, associations, awards, star ratings
Meanwhile, if you have a landing page, this is where you are expected to go into further detail about your product or service that you offer. Give the specifications of the product or service, some FAQs and some clear forms or calls-to-action.
You also have the benefit of optimising the landing pages with specific meta-titles, descriptions, headings and URL string – to maximise your chances of ranking successfully.
Understanding site structure
The structure of your website should be logical and help tell the story of who you are and what you do.
You have your homepage which gives an overview of the website, individual landing pages (with products or services) and guides or blog posts to support the information on your landing pages. Every website should have a page dedicated to about us, contact us, privacy and terms and conditions page.
This all adds to the overall value and authority of the website and having these pages and tabs clearly available on the header and footer is something that Google will reward.
What makes a good landing page?
Clear Heading structure – A strong H1 tag at the top of the page clearly illustrates that the page is about and what the service or product is. You can add additional subheadings using H2 and H3 tags to add more information and additional structure to the page.
Why you? – When adding content to a landing page, you essentially want to answer ‘why you?’ and ‘why should the customer choose your product?’ This should include what benefits you offer, your reputation and features of the product that standout. See this good example from yulife.
Contact form – A place where the user can get in touch is a good trust factor for Google that you are a real business. So be sure to include a contact form, clear email address or phone number where the person can get in touch.
Key information – For products that need a bit more information, you can use dropdowns or provide more information lower down the page to give full details to customers. This is perfect for certain products in finance, insurance or property where there are lots of terms and conditions. See this example from Equipsme on company health insurance.
Can homepages still rank well?
Yes, very much so. For most websites, the homepage will have the most links pointing to it and the most visitors and engagement – and these are important factors for SEO.
You also have to look at SEO on an industry-specific level. For some search queries, such as local results, the homepage may be the strongest and effective way to rank well.
For sectors like casinos and insurance, you will probably need a unique and bespoke landing page.
The best advice is to do good keyword and competitor research beforehand and get a feel of what types of pages rank well and what features they include. After all, it could be homepages, landing pages or even long style blog posts. Looking at who is on page 1 and how they did it can you plan and implement your SEO strategy accordingly.