One very common mistake that website owners make is to try and rank the homepage for informational and transactional queries.
This might help from a ranking point of view but might not help in terms of conversions.
Whenever someone searches using a query on Google, the person is expecting a page that is about the query.
This query can be:
- Informational – Someone looking for suggestions to know more about the latest Apple iPhone.
- Transactional – Someone who has made up his mind and is now looking to buy the latest Apple iPhone.
- Navigational – Someone who types in a URL or brand like apple.com or just apple iPhone.
Ranking your homepage for a navigational query is absolutely fine. In fact, you should rank no.1 for your brand name or when someone types in your URL.
The problem happens when your homepage ranks for an Informational or Transactional query.
If we follow the Apple iPhone example, we can see that if we search for “Apple iPhone”, It’s the internal page from apple.com that ranks high.
Similarly, if we search for “latest apple iPhone”, it can be seen that a different internal page ranks high.
The homepage does not rank for any of these queries.
Why Should You Not Rank Your Homepage For Such Queries:
As a website owner, you should not assume that your visitors will find things they want. Yes, you as a website owner know that a page does exist on your website.
You know that it is easy to navigate to that page from your homepage. But the user might not know about that. People are busy and they have tons of options on the Internet.
The searcher might just click the back button and visit another webpage which he/she might feel is more relevant.
Also, when it comes to search engines, they want you to create pages on a topic. Even if you happen to rank multiple pages from your website for a keyword, you need to ensure that all these pages are relevant to the query.
In our example above, we can see that 3 different pages from Apple.com rank for the term “latest Apple iPhone”.
- A page that compares different iPhone models.
- A page that is about the iPhone.
- A page that is just about the iPhone 11
All these pages are relevant to the query and it is good to display these pages on top of Google. Note that the Apple homepage apple.com does not rank for such a query.
As a website owner, you might have multiple services. Just like Apple sells computers, laptops, phones, tablets etc. It might confuse a person looking for iPhone if He/She lands on the homepage with so many options.
Ranking Homepage For Transactional Query:
If you have read so far, you might have got an idea on how you should not rank your inner pages for transactional queries as well.
For eg. Someone typing “Buy your product” should not land on your homepage. The correct page for to land on should be the page where the user can quickly make the purchase without a lot of clicks and confusion.
Here’s an example of what ranks when I search for “Buy Apple iPhone”. I get pages from Apple.com where I can make buy the phone. It does not take me to the homepage. These are signs of good SEO work done.
Do Not Confuse The Search Engines:
A lot of websites will and should have pages dedicated to a service or product. Now when you rank your homepage for these keywords then you are confusing the search engines.
Search engines will not understand whether the homepage is about a particular service/product or is the internal page that is about the same. This way 2 pages on your website are fighting amongst themselves which can hit in a negative manner.
Even if you get your homepage to rank between the 2 pages, you will not see a lot of conversions coming.
Sleazy SEO techniques:
Usually, when I see a website’s homepage ranking for a lot of keywords, I know that the business is doing some SEO internally or with an SEO company.
The most common mistake that SEOs do is to optimize the homepage for a lot of terms. In the process, they also build a lot of backlinks to the homepage.
Building backlinks is not a bad thing, but building backlinks just to the homepage is not recommended.
In this process, they see that the homepage starts ranking for multiple keywords. Now to impress the client or business owner, the SEOs will stuff more keywords in title tags, meta description and other places on the homepage.
This process might help the website homepage to rank for various keywords but will not be worth it. The bounce rate on the website will be very high as the person searching is not landing on a page relevant to that query.
In other words, they are not getting the information they are looking for.
Such a process is a waste of time. Yes, you might get rankings and traffic by ranking the homepage but the conversion rate will be very low.
Sending Paid Traffic To The Homepage:
We have seen that how sending traffic to the homepage for various queries might not be beneficial. It hurts your business even more if you send paid traffic to the Homepage.
This is a HUGE mistake as your conversion rate will be very low.
If you are buying traffic from AdWords for example for your product query, you need to send the person to the product page and not the homepage of your website.
If your homepage is the only page about your product, then this is fine. This usually applies to a very small 3-4 page website which is made only to promote a particular product.
It is always advisable to key term when creating a page. This should be a dedicated page for that term and you should avoid getting traffic to any other page on your website for that particular term.
This will help the visitor to get what they exactly want. When the visitors get what they are looking for, you will see our conversions go high.
Not all SEOs will agree on this but doing a conversion ratio test will show that conversions will happen more on inner pages.