Homepage SEO: What Is It & How to Do It

Kristen Cantor

Dec 07, 202312 min read
Homepage SEO

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A lot of people overlook homepage SEO.

But they shouldn’t.

In this guide, we’ll discuss what homepage SEO entails. And what homepage SEO is, why it’s important, and how to do it. Step by step. 

What Is Homepage SEO?

Homepage SEO is optimizing your homepage for Google and other search engines. And, done well, it can increase your entire website’s organic traffic and improve your search engine rankings.

SEO for your homepage involves various tactics to get your homepage in front of searchers.

For example, using targeted keyword research, writing optimized content, applying technical SEO tactics, and building backlinks. 

Below, we’ll cover exactly how you can put these tactics into practice.

Why Is Optimizing Your Homepage’s SEO Important?

Optimizing your homepage’s SEO is important because it can:

  • Strengthen website authority (how reputable your website is)
  • Facilitate navigation to other high-value pages
  • Help you rank for target keywords and branded keywords (search terms that include your brand name or variations of your brand name)

But your homepage is about more than just ranking for certain keywords. It’s the gateway to your website—many visitors’ first impression of your business.

So, a lot of people overlook the SEO potential of their homepages and just focus on the branding aspect. 

But both branding and SEO are important for your homepage. 

Effective homepage SEO should position you as the “owner” of branded keywords. So, when someone searches for your branded keywords (i.e., [business name + keyword]), your homepage should be the top result—not your competitors.

Here’s a good example of a business that ranks highly for their branded keywords:

Patagonia on Google SERP

Branded keywords are a huge part of homepage SEO. But you can also rank for certain non-branded keywords with your homepage. We’ll get into all of that below.

Here are the steps you should follow to optimize your site’s homepage for SEO:

1. Conduct a Website Audit

A website audit assesses how effectively your site is optimized for Google and other search engines. It identifies problem areas and opportunities for improvement.

The data you gain through a site audit will help you formulate your homepage SEO strategy. 

It can help you make informed decisions about site architecture, on-page content, keyword use, and more. 

A website audit isn’t just a homepage SEO check. It looks for how to improve the overall health of the whole website. 

But you can use an audit to discover ways to optimize your homepage.

Like this:

To start, use Google Search Console. It lets you find and fix issues related to your site’s performance on Google. 

"Performance on Search results" graph in Google Search Console

But for a more comprehensive overview, use a tool like Site Audit from Semrush.

It’ll help you identify technical and on-page SEO issues. And find the best ways to improve your homepage SEO.

First, enter your domain and click “Start Audit.” 

Site Audit tool search bar

Then, follow the Site Audit configuration guide to finish setting up your project. And click “Start Site Audit.”

"Site Audit Settings" window

You’ll see a dashboard with your site’s overall “Site Health” score and several thematic reports. 

An overview dashboard in Site Audit tool

Any discovered website issues will be categorized as Errors (highest concern), Warnings, and Notices (lowest concern).

"Errors," "Warnings," and "Notices" sections highlighted in Site Audit's overview dashboard

On the bottom of the “Overview” tab, pay particular attention to the “Top Issues.” These should be addressed immediately before you make other SEO improvements.

"Top Issues" section of the Site Audit report

To find issues specific to your homepage, go to the “Crawled Pages” tab. 

Then, find your homepage URL and click it. 

"Crawled Pages" tab in Site Audit

You’ll now be taken to a report that shows all issues associated with your homepage. And you can click “Why and how to fix” to find out how to address each issue.

"Why and how to fix it" pop-up screen in Site Audit

2. Optimize Homepage Content

Your homepage content includes all the text and media elements on the page. Optimizing these on-page SEO elements can help boost your rankings. And appeal to readers as well.

Homepage content optimization involves two main steps:

  1. Conducting homepage keyword research
  2. Creating targeted content

Conduct Keyword Research

Creating good homepage content starts with targeting the right keywords. So you can rank for them.

What keywords define your product or service? 

If you’re a coffee shop, for example, “coffee shop” will be one of the broad (or seed) keywords that define your business. Think of at least five to 10 of these keywords.

Once you have a list of your basic keywords, it’s time to plug them into a tool. The idea is to find more specific keywords to target.

Start by entering one of your seed keywords into the Keyword Magic Tool, adjust your location, and hit “Search.”

"carry on luggage" entered into Keyword Magic Tool search bar

You’ll see a dashboard with hundreds of related keywords. 

Like this: 

Keyword Magic Tool results for "carry on luggage"

When identifying which keywords to target, keep these things in mind:

  • Your homepage keyword should be unique. No other page on your website is targeting the exact same keyword.
  • Your homepage keyword should be directly related to the products or services you offer
  • A search using your keyword should bring up results that are homepages

As a final test, enter your keyword idea into Google and see what the search engine results page (SERP) shows. 

If none of the top 10 results are homepages, it might not be the best keyword to target. 

Further reading: How to Do Keyword Research for SEO

Create Homepage Content 

Your keywords define (for Google and readers) what your website is about.

So, strategically using your keywords in your homepage content is important. It helps Google and other search engines match your homepage with your target audience.

Think about what users need to know about your business. What services or products do you offer? What is your brand identity? What sets your company apart from competitors?

When you’re writing homepage content that’s SEO-optimized, keep these guiding principles in mind:

  • Keyword use should be natural 
  • Content should match search intent (the reason behind a searcher’s query)
  • What your company is/does must be crystal clear
  • Users should be guided to take the next step with calls to action (CTAs)

You can use a tool like SEO Writing Assistant to optimize your homepage content. 

Here’s how:

Open the tool and hit “Analyze my text.”

"Analyze my text" button highlighted under SEO Writing Assistant

In the text box on the left, you can type content directly in the tool, copy and paste it in, or import from a URL. 

SEO Writing Assistant text box with content added

On the right side, enter your keywords, select your target audience, and click the “Get recommendations” button.

"Content recommendations" section in SEO Writing Assistant editor

You’ll see an overall score and breakdowns for “Readability,” “SEO,” “Originality,” and “Tone of voice.”

SEO Writing Assistant's overall score and breakdowns for “Readability,” “SEO,” “Originality,” and “Tone of voice"

With real-time feedback, the SEO Writing Assistant can create, rephrase, expand, and simplify text that’s:

  • SEO-friendly
  • Highly readable
  • Consistent in tone and voice
  • Free of errors
  • Original

These qualities will go a long way in boosting your homepage SEO. Because relevant, quality content that matches the intent of searchers is more likely to be favored by Google.

3. Optimize the Title Tag and Meta Description

Title tags and meta descriptions are a critical part of on-page SEO. And they help search engines and users understand what your homepage is about.

The title tag is HTML code that gives the page a title. Users may see this in search engine results and on their browser tab.

A title tag highlighted on the search engine results page

Your homepage title tag should:

  • Directly describe the information on the page
  • Include your main target keyword
  • Include your brand name

Here’s an example of a strong homepage title:

"Semrush - Online Marketing Can Be Easy" homepage title

The meta description is a short summary of the webpage that appears under the title in the search results, like this:

Wikipedia's meta description

The meta description is often the first information a searcher sees about the webpage. It may be why they click (or don’t click) on the page in search results. 

Here are some best practices to keep in mind for writing effective, compelling meta descriptions:

  • Include your target keyword
  • Keep it to 105 characters or less to avoid truncation in SERPs
  • Use phrases that encourage searchers to read more
  • Don’t go the clickbait route of using empty promises
  • Tell the user exactly what they’ll learn if they click

4. Improve Homepage Load Speed

Page load speed (how fast content on your webpage loads) impacts SEO and the user experience.

This applies to both desktop and mobile. 

If someone lands on your homepage and has to wait several seconds for the content to load, they’ll probably leave before they ever read a word on your homepage. 

This gives users accessing your site a bad experience. And Google doesn’t want to rank websites or content that provide a bad user experience.

You can use multiple tools to check your homepage’s load speed.

For a holistic analysis, use a tool like Site Audit

After you run an audit, head to the “Issues” tab.

“Issues” tab in Site Audit tool

Under the “Category” drop-down menu, choose “Site Performance.”

“Site Performance" selected under "Category" drop-down menu

You’ll see a list of issues affecting site performance. Including slow speed and which pages (like your homepage) might be affected:

"0 pages have slow load speed" result highlighted under "Errors" section

Often, you can improve page speed by:

  • Using the appropriate image formats (JPEG, PNG, etc.)
  • Compressing your images
  • Minifying any HTML, CSS, or JS in your markup
  • Removing unnecessary plug-ins
  • Reducing HTTP requests
  • Leveraging browser caching

Further reading: What Is Page Speed & How to Improve It 

5. Enhance the User Experience

User experience (UX) refers to how a user experiences a product. In this case, your homepage. 

And good UX works toward good SEO.

How? 

According to Google, its “core ranking systems look to reward content that provides a good page experience.” 

So, your homepage is more likely to perform well in Google if users have a good experience. 

There are a lot of different ways you can enhance the user experience of your site’s homepage.

Good UX design can yield a homepage that: 

  • Is easy to navigate
  • Uses a clear layout and site structure
  • Is mobile-friendly
  • Is functional and practical 
  • Is fast-loading 
  • Is accessible to all audiences
  • Uses readable text (including font, size, and color)
  • Has high-quality images
  • Meets user expectations
  • Uses good SEO web design

If your homepage design is cluttered, confusing, difficult to navigate, or unappealing in any other way, users may leave and never return to the site. Even if the product or service you offer is exactly what they’re looking for.

Further reading: 10 UX Design Examples to Get Inspired

Backlinks are links from other sites that point back to your website. And high-quality backlinks are a critical part of homepage SEO.

A strong backlink profile can help drive traffic and improve your rankings. 

Why?

Google sees backlinks as another website putting trust in your website. It’s like a vote of approval from an outside site. This can boost your rankings. 

Backlinks also send referral traffic from another website to your homepage. A reader looking for more information may follow a link to read more, leading to your homepage.

Building strong backlinks involves:

  • Conducting a competitor backlink analysis
  • Identifying high-authority websites for outreach
  • Creating valuable content that naturally encourages linking to your site

To build high-quality backlinks, use the Link Building Tool.

Enter your domain name and hit “Start Link Building.”

"yankeecandle.com" entered into Link Building Tool search bar

You’ll be prompted to “Add your keywords”:

"Add your keywords" window in Link Building Settings

And “Add your competitors”:

"Add your competitors" window in Link Building Settings

Then, click “Start Link Building” at the bottom to begin.

“Start Link Building” button selected at the bottom of "Add your competitors" window

By selecting the “Prospects” tab, you can start building a list of relevant, high-quality sites to reach out to as part of your backlink campaign. 

"Prospects" tab in Link Building Tool

You can also evaluate and compare competitor link profiles using Backlink Analytics

Open the tool and enter any competitor URL. And click “Analyze.” 

"roetell.com" entered into Backlink Analytics search bar

Now, head to the “Backlinks” tab.

"Backlinks" tab in Backlink Analytics tool

When looking at a homepage, choose “Exact URL” at the top because the tool can analyze at the domain, subdomain, and URL level. 

"roetell.com exact URL" selected from the homepage

The tool will show everything you need to know about this URL’s backlink profile. Like:

  • Number of backlinks and referring domains
  • Change in number of backlinks over time
  • Backlink types (text, image, form, or frame)
  • Link attributes (follow, nofollow, sponsored, or UGC)
Backlink Analytics's overview report for "http://roetell.com" URL

You can even add up to four more URLs to compare:

Adding four more URLs to compare under Backlink Analytics's "Overview" tab

Further reading:

How to Track and Analyze Your Homepage’s SEO Performance

Finally, let’s look at how you can track and analyze your hard work toward optimizing your homepage.

Regular monitoring allows you to:

  • Identify problems when they arise
  • Apply quick and effective solutions to problems
  • Evaluate which tactics are working (and which aren’t)

Track Keywords

Tracking keywords helps you monitor your and competitors’ daily site rankings.

You can stay on top of metrics like your ranking position, visibility, and estimated traffic for target keywords.

To start, open Position Tracking, enter your domain, and click “Set up tracking.”

"microsoft.com" entered into Position Tracking tool search bar

You’ll then add information for “Search engine,” “Device,” “Location,” and “Business name for local map pack.”

"Targeting" window in New Position Tracking Campaign settings

Next, you’ll fill out (or import) the keywords you want to track. And click “Add keywords to campaign.”

"Keywords" window in New Position Tracking Campaign settings

Finally, click “Start Tracking.”

“Start Tracking" button selected under "Keywords" settings window

Your results will take you to your dashboard. The “Overview” tab shows metrics like visibility and keyword rankings.

An overview dashboard for "microsoft.com" in Position Tracking tool

Your keyword rankings data chart will give you information you can use to guide your homepage SEO efforts. Like which keywords your pages are ranking for and position changes over time. 

"Rankings Distribution" chart section on Position Tracking report

Monitor Homepage Performance

For monitoring homepage performance, try using Organic Traffic Insights

It combines data from Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Semrush to give you a comprehensive view of how people are using your website.

To connect Organic Traffic Insights with Google Analytics and Google Search Console, open the tool and select “Connect Google Account.”

“Connect Your Google account" window in Organic Traffic Insights tool

Then, log into the Google account you want to pair.

"Sign in with Google" pop-up screen

You’ll be asked to allow Organic Traffic Insights to access your Google account. 

Click “Allow.”

"Allow" button highlighted under "Organic Traffic Insights wants to access your Google Account" screen

You’ll then choose the properties you want to link to your Semrush project. 

"Connect Your Google account" window in Organic Traffic Insights settings

After you finish setting up the project, you’ll be taken to your dashboard. Where you can see metrics like the total number of users, average engagement time, and more. 

Organic Traffic Insights dashboard

Here, you can keep track of data such as:

  • Ranking position for keywords
  • Click-through rates
  • Analysis of geographic user populations
  • Comparisons between mobile and desktop traffic
  • Other user behavior insights

Find your homepage URL in the “Landing Pages” table to review metrics specifically for your homepage.

An example URL row highlighted in the “Landing Pages” table

You can also send keywords to Position Tracking by clicking either the blue number under the “Semrush” or “GSC” in the “Keywords” column. And then selecting one or more keywords and clicking “Send to Position Tracking.

Like this:

Keywords selected and “Send to Position Tracking" button highlighted in the upper right corner

Tracking backlinks is important because you want to always know what links are pointing to your website’s homepage. 

Backlinks change over time. 

You want to keep tabs on the quality, quantity, and relevancy of all links pointing to your homepage.

To begin, open Backlink Audit, enter your domain, and click “Start Backlink Audit.”

"patagonia.com" entered into Backlink Audit tool search bar

Then, follow the Backlink Audit configuration guide to finish setting up your project. And click “Start Backlink Audit.”

"Backlink Audit Settings" window with "Start Backlink Audit" button highlighted

You’ll see a detailed report screen after the audit is complete. 

Backlink Audit overview report for "patagonia.com"

This gives you an overview of measurements like your “Overall Toxicity Score” and number of referring domains.

“Overall Toxicity Score” section of the report

To find backlinks that point specifically to your homepage, go to the “Target Pages” tab. And enter your homepage URL in the search bar.

“Target Pages” tab in Backlink Audit tool

You’ll then be able to see all information about the referring domains associated with your homepage. Which you can review to stay on top of your backlink profile. 

Further reading: How to Do a Backlink Audit (5 Simple Steps) 

Take Homepage SEO a Step Further

Now you know the basics of how to optimize your homepage for SEO. And that’s critical for your site’s overall health.

Ready to take it a step further?

Here are a few helpful resources to guide your next steps:

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