Everybody talks about optimizing the website as a whole, but it is of equal importance to optimize this single, most important page – HomePage (face of your website).
For almost all the websites, the most ranked and visited page is its homepage. So optimizing it makes a lot of sense. If you feel the same, then continue reading..
Here are some of the aspects that you can tweak, inorder to optimize your homepage:
1. Do not show full article on your homepage. If you are showing 10 full articles on your homepage, then it will take a lot of time to load.
And from users perspective, they may not have the patience to scroll down and digg your website looking for good content. Internet is full of information overload and they may just leave your website and go somewhere else.
On the downside, people need to do an extra click to get to the content, if you start showing post excerpts.
2. If you are showing only excerpts on your homepage, then try to limit it to 8 or 10 post excerpts. If you show 20 to 25 post excerpts on your homepage, then the user experience will again be bad.
3. Use less images on your homepage.: Images consume most of the bandwidth. Images can be used wisely to grab the attention, but if we do not take that extra care to optimize the image, then we will surely have to pay for that latter. It would be better to avoid more images on the homepage.
4. Use less advertisements on your homepage or no advertisement on your home page: The best example for this is Google. Google.com is the simplest and most used search engine in the world and still it doesn’t have a ad on its homepage. Get a clue from it.
5. Optimize all the images that you are showing on your homepage, using some image optimization tools.
6. As far as possible, try avoiding if-else programs on your homepage. Ex:- Showing one ad to facebook visitors and other for Search Engine visitors and another for people coming from Twitter!
7. Remove the widgets and badges from the homepage. Retain only the most important.
8. Avoid animated contents from your homepage, inorder to speedup the load time of your pages and to not divert the attention of your reader, from the beginning.
9. Choose a proper webhost, with good uptime, speed of servers and support.
10. Make use of custom Excerpt option in WordPress and make the excerpts on your homepage more meaningful. Create enthusiasm or the need to read more situation to someone who reads the excerpts on your homepage!
11. You can lessen the ads on the homepage and put link or banner to your own interesting articles or categories of articles. This will give the user more options to navigate. And you can engage your reader for more time, showcasing good articles.
12. Remove the digg, tweetmeme and other buttons from the article excerpts. Show them only on the full post, if necessary.
13. Use labels: Label all the things properly on your homepage. Ex: Recent articles, Popular posts etc, for better user experience. Visitors must not feel, as if they have landed in a wild forest!
14. Test your optimized homepage: Testing is the only way to go. Big internet companies like Google rely only on its continuous testing. But Google, Yahoo, Microsoft has a lot of employees for testing. Now how can you do testing with your website/blog? Most of the times, owner of the blog gets blind to many components on the blog, like, the widgets, labeling, etc. So it is a good practice to arrange a party for your friends(who don’t know about your blog) and tell them to surf and give feed back about 2 or 3 websites(one of which is yours!). Keep doing it once in a while. Do not over do it. You may just endup in testing and may forget the main element of the blog, which is content.
15. Menu bar: Most surfers are used to the menu bar placed at the top, than on the sidebar. So it must be clearly placed in a prominent position and do not mix it with your categories and other stuffs.
16. Show navigation menu or main menu both in the header as well as in the footer.
17. Make sure to have “Popular Articles” or “Recommended Articles” list on the homepage. So that first time visitors know where to look at, for the best contents on your blog. And with the best content, they are more likely to stick to your blog.
18. Show your subscriber count or Twitter follower count as a social proof, if you have some significant numbers.
19. As far as possible avoid flash contents from homepage. You may annoy and drag your readers out of your blog even before they read any of your stuffs!
20. Make your website/blog logo clickable and link it to your homepage.
Please share your optimization tips with us. So that everyone of us can improve our website/blogs.