For people who are trying to learn SEO, Moz’s Whiteboard Fridays are fantastic. They give a thorough breakdown of a particular SEO-related topic, complete with visuals and anecdotes.
The Whiteboard Friday I want to tell you about today is from quite some time ago – back in 2014. While it’s a bit dated, a lot of the information is still pretty relevant. And, as it so happens, it’s about homepage SEO.
What Rand analyzes in the piece is the difference between old homepage SEO and modern day homepage SEO. We’re going to do a bit of the same in this piece, but tailor the information for you – the funeral home owner. There’s a lot to cover, so let’s dive right in:
The old ways are dead
Back in the day, homepages were cluttered with all kinds of information. We’re talking snippets from your most recent blog post, updates about new content you created or services you offer, images, links – you name it, the homepage had it.
Today, these practices are largely dead and buried. Michiel Heijmans, writing for Yoast, has made the argument that homepage SEO doesn’t even exist.
In some ways, he’s right.
What is your homepage for?
The purpose of a homepage is right there in the name – it’s home. That means, like any good home, it should be an inviting, welcoming place. Your homepage should act like a gracious host, pointing people to the resources they need in a simple, direct, and effective way.
When someone lands on your homepage, they should immediately know what your business is all about. Your logo should be plainly visible, and you should have a hero graphic or video that gives them more information about who you are. You might also include a mission statement or tagline.
Keep visual clutter at a minimum. Navigation should be simple – use a navbar for your most important links. Your footer can contain other links or useful things, like your contact information.
Why has the focus shifted away from keyword-heavy homepages?
There are a number of reasons why keyword and content-heavy homepages are no longer the norm.
First, the way we use the Internet has changed dramatically since the early days of SEO. More people are browsing using mobile devices than ever before, and these devices reward sites that have a simple, visually-focused (not textually-focused) homepage.
Second, the way search engines rank sites has improved. Instead of simply ranking pages (like your homepage), the various elements of your site can share optimization with one another. In other words, if you have a particular page (like a blog post) ranking well, it will spread some of the love to the other pages on your site – including your homepage.
That’s because websites are now ranked more holistically than they were before – search engines understand, not only what a particular page is about, but how that page relates to your site as a whole.
Thanks for the explainer. Now how do I optimize my funeral home’s homepage?
Optimizing your homepage is still incredibly important – it’s just done in a different way than it used to be.
Make it clear that you’re a funeral home
Hopefully you already know this: your client needs to know immediately that they’ve landed on a funeral home’s website. Those of you who specialize in basic funerals, cremations, or particular religious ceremonies should make that information obvious as quickly as possible, too.
Make the services you offer easy to access
You can create a tab in your navbar that says “What we do”, “What we offer”, “Services”, or some such thing – when your clients hover over that selection, a dropdown menu with your services (cremation, funerals, etc.) should appear.
Some funeral homes have had success separating pre-planning from the services section, in order to separate their pre-planning funnel from their at-need funnel.
Put information related to your services (obituaries, forms, about us, etc.) into the navbar. Basically, if a customer is likely to want easy access to it, it should be in the navbar, not in some arbitrary string of links on your homepage.
Link to your homepage on your other pages
To spread the love from pages that are ranking well, it’s a good idea to link from those pages to your homepage using anchor text that contain the keywords you’re looking to rank for. Service-in-location (SiL) keywords are a good way of going about this – things like “Cremation services in Toronto” or “Funeral home in Regina”.
Include some explainer text on your homepage
While your homepage should be mostly visual, it can be helpful to include a little blurb about your business. Who you are, how long you’ve been around, that you’re available 24/7 – that sort of thing. Of course, you’ll want to keep the longform content for pages like your “About Us” page, but a brief explainer below your key visuals can boost your SEO and be helpful to your clients.
Create an unmissable call-to-action
You want a big button, right at the centre of your page, that says something like “Have you lost a loved one? We’re here to help” with a big “Click here” or “Contact us” underneath. This should lead to a landing page that allows the person who clicked on it to get in touch with you right away. After all, if we’re optimizing your homepage, we need to get people through the funnel as quickly as possible.
Keep things speedy
One of the biggest SEO killers is a slow-loading website. You’re going to be focusing on visual elements for your homepage, so make sure you’ve optimized your photo and video SEO. Be mindful of Google’s Core Web Vitals and other key technical elements.
These are just a few of the many things you can do to improve your homepage’s ranking. SEO for funeral homes is intimately tied to local SEO, so brush up on what you can do to increase local traffic to your pages, and your homepage SEO will definitely improve in turn.