Is the Home Page Dead? Only One Way to Find Out…

Are your visitors landing in the wrong place?

 

Well, my website has been bouncing around Google’s search listings for ‘copywriter’ for the last few weeks; however, I’m pleased to announce that it now seems to be stabilising on the lower rungs of page one.

I’m not totally convinced how I’ve managed to get there, and I’m not sure why some of the other sites deserve to be there either, but at least now I’m receiving a steady flow of targeted traffic.

I’m not popping the champagne just yet though as it’s actually my blog which has become my landing page, and not my main business website.

My business might be well sign posted, but when potential clients arrive expecting to find a copywriting service site they simply turn around and walk back out the door, annoyed at not finding what they were looking for.

After contacting my local IT support network I was given some excellent advice by two local experts, Ed Stivala from www.n3wmedia.com and Andy Bircumshaw from networkned.co.uk. Their thorough responses crystallised the fact that my blog has now become my business landing page, and I’m going to have to do something about it.

The problem is finding a format to satisfy both types of visitors.

I have the info hungry surfers looking for answers to their questions, and I have potential business clients looking for a straightforward copywriting service.

I’ve tried adding a copywriting service link to my header, but only 1/10 ever seems to click through. I think a lot of my business service visitors probably aren’t blog savvy, and view them as just online diaries rather than professional marketing tools.

However, my quandary is not an isolated case. With Google indexing pages rather than sites this means people can land on a variety of pages, and not just the carefully composed home page.

Is it time to reconsider how we structure our websites? Is the landing page dead?

The Blog Business Summit certainly seems to think so. Jason Preston highlighted an article in the New York Times discussing how people were now bypassing home pages:

‘media sites are discovering that many people are ignoring their home pages where ad rates are typically highest and using Google to jump to the specific pages they want’

Jason advocates the potential death of the home page as people are just batting it aside in their hunt for information. This might suit information seekers, but what about people looking for a service?

As discussed by Brian Clark this week, landing pages are needed to communicate the value of your offer. You have to get across the benefits of your product or service quickly and succinctly in a short space of time. A big part of achieving this is through your headline, which means for a start my blog title is going to have to get a lot longer.

The problem I now face is getting across the benefit laden features of a landing page without distorting the Copywriter’s Crucible’s blog format for readers.

Integrating the other pages of my business website into my blog should be easy. This gives me an excuse to take a hacksaw to some of its content, and not just a surgeon’s knife. It’s just finding a way to capture business service visitors without a traditional landing page that might be tricky.

If anybody can suggest to me some sites which are as effective as blogs as they are at landing pages then I’d certainly be interested in taking a look.

So, is Jason from Blog Business Summit correct; is the home page dead?

Looks like I’ve got no choice but to try and find out.

15 Comments. Leave new

I’m OK with the concept of the blog-centric Web site (where appropriate), but think the idea has its limitations.

It gets sticky where your blog doesn’t completely align with your business.

I’m a serious copywriter, but my blog isn’t always a serious document. What to do?

Interestingly, my copywriter Web sit runs on blog software, and the “blog” page is simply a one-way “What’s New” pipeline.

That’s proven to be handy. Still, is the “Home” page dead? I don’t think so. But a static, dead page will always fall in the face of a living document.

My take? Your home page message should remain relatively constant — but use selected blog posts to keep it lively.

I think improving the integration of my copy blog, marketing blog and Web site is my next Big Project, and part of the aim is to leverage my blog content on my Web home page.

That adds credibility and suggests an active writer (and Web site).

At least that’s what I’m thinking today.

If I were you I’d put up a special little box at the top of the page when someone lands here from Google. it would say something like “Hi, I see you found you’re way here from Google by searching for ‘copywriting’. Let me introduce myself, I’m Matt and I’m a professional copywriter. You can check out my copywriting service [link], or peruse he information on my blog. You might be interested in this post [link] or this post[link]”

John Battelle has done something similar. Search in Google for “searchblog” and click on the first result and see what you get.

Matt: You can ask for the click, but why not author a “thought leadership” document (say a white paper perhaps) and offer it right at the top of your blog?

It’s usually done to collect e-mail addresses, but god affords us free choice in the call to action department, so why not trade the paper for a visit to your site?

Tom – I’m certainly going to have to reconsider my approach to blog posts now that they’re one of the first things a potential client reads – and not get so carried away with my metaphors. I dont think the home page is dead either because visitors like to know where they are and what your about, perhaps the future for business blogs is a hybrid of the two.

A white paper is certainly on the to do list. I’m always advocating its benefits so should really put my money where my mouth is. After I’ve completed the blog redesign perhaps – integrating a blog with your business site should be a good topic.

Toivo – thanks for the suggestion. I think John Battelle’s page structure is certainly the way to go – an introductory section explaining to visitors where they are and then the familiar blog features for regular visitors. One things for sure is that Im going to have to test a range of structures before Ive reached a new design. One of the benefits of marketing on the internet is that you can almost immediately see the impact of any changes on your visitors.

I have a corporate site for my company. That company has a blog. And both ranked so-so in Google. Then, two months ago, we launched another blog – separate from our site, dedicated to some radical online marketing ideas we have. It was genuinely just because we wanted to blog on these ideas. But it has turned out to be a great supplement to our corporate site.

Guess what – while the blog doesn’t rank really well in Google yet, it does bring much better qualified visitors into my company’s site. We link from our stand-alone blog to our corporate site. We’ve found that people who go to the stand-alone blog and like our ideas are willing to seek us out and explore our corporate site. And then, they call to to talk to me – or send me emails. It’s proven to be the most effective thing we have done to date from an online marketing perspective. Plus, we get to espouse some of our more unconventional ideas on a dedicated platform.

Embrace the alternatives to the home page!

[…] When blogs do creep ahead of peoples homepages, this often causes difficulties. The reason being personal websites often have a defined purpose. (Incidentally I don’t think the homepage is dead, it just has a different purpose, while its former purpose has been spread around the site). Rather than killing off websites, many people are merging their blog into their existing website, or adding extra ‘landing page’ elements to their blogs to gain the benefits of each. […]

Anna, I certainly agree with you on the marketing value of blogging. Its brought me into contact with like minded individuals from all over the globe with whom I can bounce ideas off and make sense of this whole internet marketing/copywriting malarky.

In terms of attracting clients, people can see how I write on a weekly basis rather than just base their impression on flicking through my portfolio. This means I’m building trust and confidence over time – exactly what a business blog should be about. For those who dont read blogs I’d like to think it at least shows Im participating in my industry rather than just keeping my fingers crossed hoping for work to arrive.

Writing and learning about copywriting and internet marketing ticks so many boxes that it is an essential part of my business – even if it’s a part I dont get paid for.

I’ve recently discovered from Tom’s post that the new version of wordpress allows you to create your own blog landing page (http://copywriterunderground.com/2007/06/07/the-evolving-copywriters-web-site-the-death-of-the-home-page/)- so just watch this space!

Matt.

[…] That’s the question posed by Matt Ambrose of the Copywriter’s Crucible, which led to my asking a similar question on my Copywriter Underground writer’s blog, which in turn led to an interesting discussion. […]

[…] Our hearty band’s only weapons are a leather bound volume of active verbs, a dying home page, a 257-pound white paper, a small cache of pointy serif fonts, and a Golden Pencil. […]

Matt –

Thanks for the discussion and the link!

I know you’re in the UK, but if you’re thinking of hopping the pond to attend our conference in Chicago this September, we’re going to have a lot of discussion about how to effectively use a blog as a business site.

If you’d like to come, I can arrange to get you a discount on any of our three attendance packages. Shoot me an e-mail if that sounds interesting to you: jason (at) blogbusinesssummit.com

Hi Matthew. Are you submitting all your website pages/URLs individually to search engines? Once you’ve done that, every page wil be a potential landing page, depending of course on which keywords you’re using.

Jason – thanks for the offer. I dont know what my plans are yet for later on in the year but Ill certainly bear it in mind.

Mike – I know Ive definitely submitted to Google and Yahoo and my hosting company (1&1) should have submitted me to plenty more. I seem to get 99% of my traffic from Google though so I will have to look into this to check.

[…] my blog is now my homepage its obvious that an extensive redesign is needed. At present visitors looking for a […]

[…] readers will know all about my search for a blog format that will satisfy both blog readers and business visitors. I might be attracting plenty of potential customers through the doors, but […]

[…] since Google started indexing my blog as my home page, I’ve been steadily heading towards re-branding my copywriting business with my blog […]

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