What type of a question is this? Your web site only has one home page, right? This is true, most web sites have a single home page that is considered the doorway to the rest of the web site.
Most home pages are designed to cater to the fact that this is the first page a visitor will see. A good home page will lead your site visitors into the web site, and you can push them where you want them to go – through the use of suggestive text, links and graphics in the layout of the home page.
The Home Page is Not Always The Entrance
But what happens when somebody sees your site for the first time, and they did not arrive on your site via the home page? Maybe somebody stumbled across your web site by visiting a recent blog post. This person is visiting your site for the first time, but they are not on your home page. This is a pretty common situation.
In fact, some web sites get so much direct traffic to their inner pages, via search engines or otherwise, that the home page is actually getting only a small percentage of the “first page viewed” traffic on the web site. This means that very few people that visit the site for the first time are actually seeing the home page.
This is a very important issue to think about when you are designing your web site and setting up the page layouts. You should recognize that there will be many people who will arrive at your web site through these inner pages, such as an individual blog post, a page describing your services, or maybe even the profile of an employee if you post such information on your web site.
When first launching your web site, the majority of your traffic probably will come through your home page. But over time, as you add more content and pages to your site, and as search engines give more weight to inner pages, your inner pages will start to attract new visitors as well.
Make a Good First Impression, All The Way Around
When visitors arrive at these inner pages, seeing your web site for the first time from the inside out, what type of impression does your site leave? If your inner pages are lacking in call to action or don’t suggest to the visitor what they should do next, they might not be nearly as inviting as your home page.
It is a good idea to design all the pages of your web site to leave a good first impression. Invite the users to read more, and suggest them to do exactly what you want them to do next, very much like you might do with your home page.
Take a Quick Look at Your Own Site
Make a quick visit to any page but the home page of your web site. Take a look at the page, and think about what type of impression you want to leave if this is the web page a person first sees when visiting your site. More than likely you can think of a couple things you would like to push in front of these new site visitors, things that are not currently on the page.
On the flip side of this coin, you don’t want to go overboard. People are arriving at these inner pages for a reason. It might be because either the page is ranked for a certain term in the search engines or because other web sites are linking to them and driving direct traffic. People probably arrived on a particular page first because they wanted to read specific content, so be sure to give that to them.
Keep the main focus on the content of the page itself since that is what the users are looking for. However, it doesn’t hurt to sprinkle in a little bit of suggestive, actionable text or some general need-to-know information about your business or organization.
What Should You Do?
What types of things can you do to make your inner pages more inviting for your web site as a whole?
One good example would be to take a small section of sidebar real estate and dedicate that to a few action statements or graphics that tell the user what to do next. “Check out more info about our product”, “Sign up for our newsletter”, or “Read our latest industry updates” are all decent examples. Use this small area on every sidebar on your inner pages to reinforce the main conversion goals of your web site.
Suggestive or invitational text or graphics do not need to take up a large portion of your inner pages, but it is a great way to convince new site visitors what to do next. Keep in mind, this is just one example. Your imagination is the limit.
Use Your Analytics
You can figure out what pages of your web site are the doorway pages by simply looking at your web analytics. Take a look at which pages get the most views with the traffic coming from outside sources. You might be surprised which pages are getting the most people onto your site, especially if you have a lot of content or a blog on your site. In fact, you might even find that a single page other than the home page gets the majority of the traffic and new visitors for your site, although this is just one possibility of many.
A web site can also be adjusted over time to cater to new visitors. A web analytics package can be implemented on any web site that will show what pages are getting the most traffic and from where. If there are pages other than the home page that are getting a lot of traffic and new users, one can make adjustments to those particular pages to be more inviting to new visitors. This way, you spend more time working where the traffic actually is on your site, keeping the time you spend tweaking your site more efficient and targeted to the pages that are getting the most attention.