How can I get web visitors past my homepage?

A computer screen showing a homepage of a website

Getting visitors to come to your website is rarely enough. If they stay on the homepage or landing page and don't travel further into your site, the chances are they won't convert and become the active customers you need

If your objective is simply to get customers to visit your premises or call you, stopping at the homepage might not be a problem. Your homepage could simply give details of what your business offers, along with your contact details and a clear call to action - for example, "Visit our store on 1 High Street".

However, if you want to get customers to convert - whether it's to buy through your website, register their contact details, or sign up for a newsletter - they must find your homepage interesting enough to want to explore further. To help them do so, they will need clear directions towards their (and your) goals.

Analyse web traffic

Start by monitoring how your web visitors behave. Use a free web analytics tool such as Google Analytics or Clicky to find out where visitors arrive from and whether they go beyond your homepage.

If you see them bouncing off the site at the homepage, it may be because they can't find the information they want, are not drawn in by the content or have to wait too long for a page to load.

Alternatively, the problem could be as simple as a broken hyperlink. Check your site's basic usability regularly. A slow-loading page can be off-putting, so speak to your web host if you have regular technical problems.

Review your website

Crucially, your whole website - not just your home page - needs to be clear about what your business offers, so that visitors can quickly decide if it is relevant to them.

If they have found your site through a search engine, ensure that you have information relating to their search terms on the landing page, whether this is the home page or another page. Make sure you include clear links to more detailed information. If visitors don't quickly find what they need, they are likely to leave your site within seconds.

Always include a relevant call to action on your landing page, such as "Register here for our newsletter".

Update content

Content should be fresh and topical, drawing attention to particular products or offers. User-generated content is one way of ensuring that your site remains engaging. Internet tools that enable people to interact with each other via the web - such as blogs, podcasts and discussion forums - can help you do this.

Design is also important - a clean, easily navigable site is generally preferable to cluttered pages with acres of text and too many images.

You should also bear in mind that bombarding your visitors with advertising can be off-putting. So review any sponsorship to ensure it's relevant, profitable and fits with your brand.

Monitor your changes

Once you have reviewed your website, monitor it regularly. Customers can give you valuable feedback, so ask them to complete an online survey or email them asking for their thoughts.

Schedule time each month to study your web analytics data, and act on it. Remember, your website is your virtual shop window and may be the first impression a customer gets of your business - so it's important to get it right.

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