Let’s talk about your aviation website’s homepage
The year 2022 is upon us, and as marketers I think we can all agree that having a digital presence is not only important but crucial if we want to be competitive in today’s market. Yet our industry still seems to lack a bit of focus in marketing, particularly in the website department (as more of our attention is generally in other areas such as R&D and Engineering). However, like other industries we too have only 8 seconds (according to Statisticbrain.com) to capture our audience’s attention online before we lose a potential customer. Research shows, the majority of website traffic enters through the homepage – so let’s focus on how to optimize those 8 seconds.
What is the purpose of your homepage?
The homepage is a bit tricky. Unlike landing pages or most other pages on your site that generally are built around a particular action, your homepage wears multiple hats – attracting traffic, educating visitors, and inviting conversions – all from audiences of different origins.
So what should go on my homepage. Let’s break it down into three categories: Design, Content, and SEO.
Design. Your website should be visually appealing- first impressions matter. People make snap judgements and it only takes roughly 50 milliseconds (ms) for user to form an opinion about your website that determines if they will continue exploring or look for a better offer.
But design isn’t just about looking cool. You need to grab the attention of your target audience. For example, if you are marketing your products to the military then look like you are marketing your products to the military and play to their emotions, wants and needs through visual elements – and through things they recognize. While this concept seems straightforward, you would be surprised at the number of websites we have seen where the marketing is what the company wants rather than what their audience wants.
Good design also enhances your users overall experience by guiding them down a strategic path. Good design captures attention and guides the eye. You can draw their attention to special offers, highlight calls to action and help identify clickable elements.
Quick Guide: Homepage Design Checklist
- Does my design reflect who my company is?
- Does my design appeal to my target audience and their wants and needs?
- Is my design attention grabbing and memorable?
- Will my design help guide my users to the actions I want them to take?
- Is my design responsive (adaptable to all platforms desktop, mobile, tablet, etc)?
Content. According to HubSpot, you have 3 seconds to tell visitors what the site has to offer. HubSpot also has a great article and infographic that can help you with your homepage content here.
For the purpose of this blog, I am going to summarize and slightly tweak HubSpot’s ideas (which are fundamental to any industry) to what we have found to be successful in Aerospace and Defense.
- Navigation – think about your audience here. How can we help them get to the products they want as quickly as possible? Organize your offerings into simple easy to navigate categories and naming conventions. Don’t confuse your audience by making them navigate through confusing internal business units or product names that mean nothing to them.
- Headline – clear and simple, tell your audience what you do. One example that I really like “Unique Solutions for Pulsed Power Challenges”.
- Sub-headline – a brief description of what you do/offer but twisted so the focus is on how it helps your target market (pro tip: hone in on a common pain point your target audience experiences, this helps them connect with you).
- Introduction – Expand a bit on your headline and sub-headline here. Who is it you are targeting? What challenge are you solving?
- Benefits – Why should we buy from you? How is it going to help me?
- Features/Differentiators – What makes you unique? Why is your product better than your competitors? Help me understand what you provide. But remember to keep the copy light and easy to read.
- Products/Service Primary Calls to Action – the goal of your homepage is to compel visitors to dig deeper into your offerings. Give them a clear taste on the homepage that leads them further down the sales funnel.
- Secondary Calls to Action – if your audience isn’t ready to explore your products and services, give them opportunity to start other conversations. This could include learning more about your company via an About page or News page, seeing what content you offer, or exploring your social proof. This is your opportunity to help build confidence in this web visitor that may not be ready to buy yet.
- Content Offers/Highlights – is there something unique your company is doing that you want people to know without having to dig? Highlight it!
- Resources – Most first-time visitors to your site won’t be ready to buy (especially in an industry like ours with long sales cycles). Make sure to offer links to other resources that can help them learn more and get farther down the sales funnel.
- Social Proof/Success Indicators – Build trust. Prove yourself through past projects, clients, testimonials, awards or recognitions that can inspire a good first impression.
SEO. As mentioned before, your homepage is most likely to be your brands’ first impression on a user. Similarly, your homepage is also your first impression for Google (and other search engines). Your title, description, and content all hint to search engines what your site is about. Search engines then use this information to create your websites entry in the search engine results page (SERPS_ which is ultimately how your customers find you.
While there is a technical aspect to SEO, a lot of it does come back to user experience. So if you optimized your design and content per above and hired a professional website developer, you should already be in good shape with your SEO.
If you are interested in digging deeper, ReliableSoft has a great blog on homepage SEO. You can read the full blog here. I have also summarized it into a checklist for you below.
Homepage SEO Checklist:
- Optimize the Homepage Title – keep the length close to 60 characters, add your domain name in the beginning, include your target keywords.
- Optimize the Homepage Meta Description – include target keywords, make it interesting, encourage users to visit your site.
- Optimize the H1 tag – make sure there is only one h1 tab on your homepage, include your target keywords in the H1 tag and other headings.
- Homepage image SEO – make sure all images have ALT text. Optimize file names and compress images to load fast.
- Optimize Your logo – include your business name in the logo filename and ALT text
- Add Proper Structured Data Markup
- Homepage Content SEO – make sure your homepage has text content. Use text content for links. Include your target keywords and variations in your homepage content.
- Optimize homepage loading speed – Consider moving to a VPS, keep software up-to-date, analyze your speed, use streaming services for Video
- Check Mobile Friendliness
- Add an SSL
- Revise your Site Structure and Navigation –make sure that all important pages are linked to from the homepage and that users can access any pages in less than 3 clicks from the starting page. Review sitelinks shown in Google search and adjust your navigation structure accordingly.
- CTA and Trust – Add clear CTA links to help users find products and services. Add elements to establish trust with users (testimonials, reviews, etc).
As always, we are here to help. If you are struggling with your homepage or simply want another opinion, contact us. We would be happy to consult with you.