People come to me all the time, excitement radiating from their faces like sunbeams, to tell me they have their homepage ranked number one in Google.
Now imagine the shock when I tell them they’re doing it wrong.
Their next sentence is always accented by their bewilderment and exasperation… “What do you mean?”
Two reasons you shouldn’t rank for your homepage
There are several reasons not to rank for your homepage including wasted time, money and effort but I’ll give you two that we see all the time that you can take immediate action on.
1. Give the people what they want!
There is nothing worse than doing a search on Google and finding exactly what you’re looking for only to find out when you get to the website you have to do more digging to find it.
Here’s an example:
If I’m planning a July 4th barbeque with dozens of my friends and neighbors I want my deck to look great. The problem is my deck was built about the same time my house was built and it looks it. I can’t even go out there without shoes for fear of getting a splinter from the chewed up flooring.
I get on Google and I search for ‘deck builders’.
One would assume that I’m looking for a deck builder and one would be correct, I am. I want to land on a page that focuses on deck building. I want to see pretty pictures of beautiful decks with someone barbecuing delicious looking burgers and chicken wings while a group of people are mulling around in their little clicks laughing and generally enjoying the heck out of their day.
I want to find a company that is going to solve my problem of needing a deck before July 4th so I can have my barbeque without the side of splinters.
Why the heck am I landing on a page that talks about roofing and siding, windows and doors, basement remodels, gutter installation, concrete pads and, in the bottom right corner of the page, decks? The word is placed over a small picture of a deck (the same picture I saw on 4 other websites), and it’s in all caps and bold type – I guess they want me to know they are deck experts, right?
This is the problem with ranking your homepage for search terms. Unless you do one thing well and only one thing it is confusing for the person searching and finding your website. They will get confused and abandon your website or they will get lazy and not want to do the work finding your tiny image of a deck in the bottom right corner and they will abandon your website.
Either way, GREAT job on ranking your homepage for the ‘deck builder’ search term – you’ve just lost a customer.
2. Keyword Cannibalization
That sounds bad!
It is…kinda. But not in the human being on a spit kind of bad. It’s the ‘I’m losing customers but my homepage is number one‘ kind of bad.
Keyword cannibalization is when you optimize several different pages, blog posts or articles for the same search term. You end up cannibalizing your chances to rank for either page and compete with yourself needlessly.
Sometimes you can’t help this. You write posts about topics you’re an expert in and naturally your subject matter is similar so you may have some overlap in the search terms you use to optimize each. It happens all the time and it happens to us too.
However, purposefully using the same search term on your homepage as you do on your inside service page and then actively trying to optimize them for Google rankings is a mistake.
Google can’t tell which page it should return to the user searching for ‘deck builder’ so Google will probably rank both pages lower.
To see if you are cannibalizing search terms I have a quick trick for you. Open a Google browser and type in site:(your website address) and a search term. You’ll see all the pages on your website ranking for that search term.
EX: site:staffordtechnologies.net websites
Homepages are for branded searches and business cards
Your homepage will be found. It will be found by the people you send there or by the people who search your company name. It’s job is to direct them to the right place where they will find the answer to their problem or question.
Make your homepage simple. make it a converting engine for the rest of your website. No, it probably won’t rank well and that’s a good thing. If you stop worrying about where it ranks you’ll start worrying about how it can help your visitors become paying customers.