Homepage SEO in 2020
We’ve been working with multiple clients and agencies, and here’s the truth: not everyone really knows what they’re doing. I’ve seen too many so-called “SEO masters” that still follow outdated strategies. They make mistakes that cost their clients hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
The thing is, it’s easy to say that you’re good at SEO, but it isn’t so easy to actually deliver on that promise. Many businesses hire the wrong people.
And that’s exactly why I decided to create this guide: to give you the information you need to hire the right experts. Or you can use this info to do homepage SEO by yourself.
This article is full of up to date information. Trust me, you won’t regret reading this. So let’s dive in, shall we?
How Google Sees Websites
I want you to put yourself in Google’s position. On this search engine, there are 5.6 billion searches per day! That’s an overwhelming amount of searches, and as a big company, you want to make sure that search results are high-quality, every time.
How do you do that? You create an algorithm, which is a huge program that decides what to show first in your search results. There are many variables that this big software considers when ranking a website.
That algorithm has gotten extremely good at detecting scam offers, promotional websites, or any website that might not be useful to the user.
I recommend you to check out this documentary, it’s called “Dirty Money”. It can really give more perspective on this, it’s a series which tells stories of corporate corruption, securities fraud, and creative accounting. By understanding how people are scammed through Google, you can avoid being interpreted by the algorithm as a scammer.
Why Are Brands Important?
The best way for Google to detect if you’re reliable or not is to check who you are. So, that’s when brands come into play. Google prefers websites with a good brand authority. Why?
Because brands are usually not scammy, and are obviously preferred by users. For example, if you’re looking for a guide on how to make more money, which one of these would you show first to users?
- “5 Money Skills You Can Develop To Increase Your income”
- “Click HERE To Make 5000 Dollars Next month!”
Obviously the second one looks like spam, and big brands are never going to use these headlines. For that reason, Google tends to trust big brands with a decent authority.
Why Is Your Homepage Important?
Put simply, the homepage is important because that is the brand of your business, and that’s what Google looks at: brand authority. If Google thinks that yours is a good brand, you’ll rank. Period.
Here’s an example. If you search “website creator” on Google.
- The first organic result is wix.com. Why? Because they have huge brand authority, thus Google prefers them.
- How do you make Google see you as a big brand? You act like one; you do what big brands do.
- Our most powerful SEO tool is your brand, even if it sounds counter-intuitive. Here’s why.
Backlinks And Homepages
You might ask yourself: what are backlinks? Well, they are pretty straightforward. There’s a backlink every time someone on another website links to your pages. And to Google, backlinks are very important, because Google uses links to interpret relationships between websites.
That’s how it understands what is relevant and what is not, and the more high-quality backlinks a page has, the more likely it is to rank higher in search results. Makes sense? Good.
Well, I want you to think about this: if someone is going to link to your website, they’re very likely to link to your homepage.
Back to the wix.com example, imagine someone is writing a blog post about the top 10 best website builders. If they are going to list wix, where do you think they’re likely to link to? Probably the homepage.
And that’s exactly why the homepage needs to be powerful from an SEO point of view.
I want you to really understand this, so let’s pretend that you own a hand sanitizer business. It is called “Cleanest Hands”. Your website’s domain will be www.cleanesthands.com. So, if someone makes a blog post about the best hand sanitizers and includes your products, they’re going to link to your homepage..
They will use one of these anchor texts:
- Cleanest Hands
Or anything similar.
If you’re wondering what an anchor text is, it is just the text that contains a clickable link. On most websites it is blue and underlined, it is automatically created when you paste a link on most websites and apps. You can also manually create one.
This is so important, yet so overlooked. If you analyze the SEO of any successful website, you’ll find that most of their backlinks contain anchor texts that talk about their brand, not about their keywords. Here’s the proof.
Take a look at this analysis I quickly made using Ahrefs’ tool “Backlink Checker”. I first analyzed consulting.com, which is a consulting agency by Sam Ovens. It helps people become top consultants, and take a look at their top anchors.
As you see, 3 out of 5 of their anchor texts are referring to them as a brand, not their keywords. The website ranks second for the keyword “consulting”, and first for the keyword “Sam Ovens”, which is the founder and CEO of the company.
Here’s another example. If you search “dog food buy” on Google, one of the first results is Zooplus.com, take a look at their anchors.
Again, none of those have anchor texts that refer to their niche, 4 out of 5 refer to their brand, to their name.
So, before I give you some details on very common SEO mistakes when it comes to homepages, I want you to learn this very, very important strategy.
Now you know that if you’re trying to build backlinks it is very important to focus on your brand’s authority, especially on the homepage. Does that mean that you should stop focusing on keywords? Absolutely not, the use of keywords is very important, but not that much on the homepage.
The thing is, Google really loves pages that look and feel natural. So, trying to include all the keywords even remotely related to your service, and generating random backlinks, will not help you.
Actually, they will do quite the opposite: Google will see you as spam, and game over. That’s where businesses really lose a lot of money.
So here’s what you should do instead
On your homepage, you should include 1-2 keywords in the main headline. Then, when you’re trying to get other websites to link to your homepage, you should use anchor texts that describe your brand, not your service/keyword.
And don’t worry about them keywords, you can use them as much as you want in the other pages of the website, especially on those blog posts that you should be using to increase traffic. If you don’t know about blog posts, let me tell you, it’s a great way to draw people to your brand. Let me explain this better.
How Blog Posts Will Help You
So, you’re going to use your homepage for brand authority, and what’s the use of blog posts? They will help with being found by people. Pretend you’re running a landscaping business called “Bob’s Garden”. Which one of the following keywords do you think people are most likely to use?
- How to make your garden look better
- Landscaping tips
- Bob’s Garden
Well, the most unlikely keyword, in this case, is Bob’s Garden. A lot of people are going to look for tips on how to make their garden look better, but very few people will look for the landscaping business specifically.
Back to consulting.com, another key phrase they rank second for is “how to become popular”.
From there, people will get to know their brand and who consulting.com is.
So, what you need to address in this case are the keywords that are actually used to find businesses like yours. I mean, if I don’t know that your business exists, it doesn’t really matter how good you are, I’m still not going to find you.
Why Are Blog Posts Important
Blog posts will solve this by providing value and answers to questions that your potential clients might have. So, if your website ranks #1 for “How to landscape”, people are going to find your website.
“But don’t they refuse to buy our service because we already gave them the answer?”
I get this question asked A LOT. Most people worry that by providing the answers people won’t need them anymore, but that really isn’t the case. You’ll give them answers, but their problem is very unlikely to be solved by that answer, and that’s when you have to sell them your service.
Using key phrases is very important in blog posts because Google will use them to decide if your website is a relevant answer or not to a question. Ideally, you want your answer to appear directly on the search page, like this.
How Homepage SEO Will Rank Your Inner Pages
Proper homepage SEO will also help your other pages rank. The reason is, again, the branding. So, you don’t just need search engine optimized blog posts, that’s not enough for those posts to rank. Google will always rank you higher if you have good brand authority, and that’s also the case for blog posts.
It Ain’t That Complicated Is It?
I know this is a lot of information, but it’s really not complicated. Most agencies make it super-hard to understand, and you know why they do that? So that they can sell you their product. I don’t do that, I focus on value.
In the next half of the article we’re going to talk about:
- How to future-proof your website from an SEO standpoint.
- The common homepage SEO mistakes that cost businesses brand authority and a lot of $.
Here’s what you’ve learned so far.
How to SEO your website. Strategy:
- Your homepage can help brand authority safely.
- Most sites will link to your homepage with anchor texts that refer to your brand.
- Google really likes big brands: act like one and Google will like you too.
- If you appear spammy or too promotional, you’ll seem untrustworthy in Google’s eyes (watch “Dirty Money”)
- The blog part of your website is a powerful tool that you can use to be found by people.
- Blog posts that answer a specific question will have a great ranking.
Homepage SEO Mistakes To Avoid
Some of these might sound counterintuitive, but follow me until the end and it will make sense. If you don’t really enjoy spending money on stuff that doesn’t produce results, you’re gonna want to hear this stuff.
Mistake 1: Not Enough Branded Anchor Links
You already know why this is important. In order to appear like a big brand in Google’s eyes, you need to have websites talking about you.
So most of the anchor texts that you’ll have created on people’s websites must include content referring to your brand. I know you want the number, so here’s a percentage that should make sense for most websites.
About 80% of anchor links have to be branded. Do it, and Google will fall in love with you.
Mistake 2: Don’t Overdo Keywords
Many try to take every single keyword that is even remotely related to their website and include it everywhere. Well, that doesn’t work.
In Google’s eyes, that’s either spammy and promotional, and it will heavily penalize your website. You need one or maybe two main keywords per search engine optimized page. This will also force your content to be more specific and provide more value.
Including a whole lot of keywords on one page and trying to target too many people also gives an unnatural feel, which leads me to…
Mistake 3: Unnatural Look
Mistake 4: Building Links To Service Pages
- Service pages are just promotional pages, and that looks unnatural and spammy to the Google bots, and they’ll penalize your domain by classifying it as spam.
- They won’t help you close, and this is the next mistake.
Mistake 5: Forgetting That Real People Interact With Your Website
Mistake 6: Bad Capitalization
Mistake 6: Not Updating And Keeping It Active
Remember: Your Homepage Is Your Brand Page
- Why you’re better than the competition (you can even implicitly call out the competitors).
- Clarify what you stand for and how you do business (what type of people you work with, why you do it, even your experience).
- What your target audience looks like (e.g. Social Media Marketing Agencies)
- What your main goal is (in the case of an SEO Agency “solve issues with Google ranking).
Choosing The Right Partner
Who Is Up To Date?
- Buy from you.
- Follow you.
- Watch a video.
- Visit a shop.