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The interplay of SEO & Usability: 4 steps for optimizing your homepage

More and more SEO practitioners nowadays agree that the primary goal of SEO is not just to achieve top positions. About five years ago one thought: if a site is in the #1 position, SEO is successful. Currently one believes that attracting the right audience instead of ‘everyone’ and keeping your audience loyal is much more beneficial to your online business. Therefore, SEO has important interplays with other website characteristics such as usability, functionality or technics.

Let’s discuss the most important SEO – Usability interplay in practice: the Homepage. Here are 4 steps in howto create an optimal homepage for findability and usability.

1. Clearly state what your business is and what the most important keywords & key phrases are that belongs to it

Place your company name & logo in the upper left corner of the webpage. Here it gets the most attention. Further, give the image an alternative text with your most important keywords. Put a welcome message a little below the logo. Here you state what you’re doing and again you implement your most important phrases in this text (hint: the keyword ratio in this text should be between 5-8%). The picture below shows the SYcommerce homepage with the company name & logo upper left, and a short introducing message just beneath:

Optimal homepage for SEO and Usability

2. Show the main tasks a visitor can do directly at the homepage and subordinate them on the page.

Every website has a couple of main tasks a visitor “must” do when entering the website. Mostly, the navigation to those pages has been put in the main menu. Though, with a couple of different triggers on your homepage you can prime the main tasks directly. Next to the main menu, separate buttons are important, ads with direct links, internal links in the content. All those items serve as opportunities to implement your keywords. Like H1 & H2 above the content columns, and anchor text & alternative text at direct links. The above picture shows for example clear buttons to the weblog or to get in contact with the company. Further the content columns shows the H1 and H2’s on the webpage, whereas internal links are included in the content to go to pages with the most important content of the website.

3. Implement a clearly visible internal search engine

Internal search engines are more and more the starting point at the website for visitors. It’s therefore really important that the search field and the search button are immediately visible for visitors when entering the website. Mostly, this is placed in the upper right corner of the webpage. The advantage of an internal search engine is that it’s really simple to show on the page. But it’s also important to keep it simple. Don’t put instructions or other text around it, just the field and the button are sufficient. From a SEO point of view, the data that your internal search engine generates is essential information for further findability optimization. The search queries people use here provides you with the important keywords and phrases that cannot be ignored on your website.

4. Be moderate with Flash

Flash is of course an attractive method to make your homepage exciting for your visitors. But as broadly known: search engines cannot (well) index such flash scripts. Especially for your top navigation it’s important that those links are well indexed for optimal findability. Furthermore, too much flash on your homepage can distract visitors from clicking through the website, causing high bounce rates. Be aware of moderate Flash applications to attract your visitors, in that it wont harm the SEO and Usability of your homepage.

I would be pleased to receive more tips & tricks from you for optimal and integrated SEO & Usability.

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