Your Website’s Welcome Message Is Your Chance to Tell What Your Site is About
Your website’s welcome message must communicate two things to a visitor as soon as he or she lands on it: what is this website about and what can it do for me?
Visitors to your site take a quick glance at your website and decide whether to leave or stay after only a couple seconds. Your site’s welcome message plays a key role in getting them to stay, but you already know this because you’ve done it hundreds, if not thousands of times. You landed on a website, took a quick glance at the title and first headers, determined that it wasn’t what you were looking for, and you hit the “back” button on your browser.
This post is going to share a few best practices that will help to decrease the number of visitors that land on your site and leave.
A Website Welcome Message Communicates Through Text and Images
Lack of clarity is the most common issue with website welcome messages
When a website welcome message falls short, it’s because of a lack of clarity in the written message or the images used. By far this is the most common pitfall that websites fall into. Lets take this website as an example:
What does this company do?
The text suggests that it is provides private security for hospitals. The photo suggests it helps ER doctors or surgeons in times of critical work.
In actuality, it is a company that offers technology to lock down hospitals when there is an active shooter. Nothing in the header even suggests this. The header should state something like “Cutting-Edge Technology to Deter Active Shooters in Hospitals.” The image should feature the product benefit, maybe through a video of hospital doors locking down and lights flashing.
This is not to point a finger at this specific project; mistakes like this are extremely common. If you were to Google “electricians” and look at the first 10 electrician websites, there’s a good chance that you might not be sure whether they are commercial, residential, or industrial electricians by looking at the headers of their websites. This isn’t unique to healthcare security or electricians; the same goes for most business niches.
Another example of the difference made by strong, clear images as a website’s welcome message
If you are an coal-fired oven pizzamaker, make it clear. Placing an outside shot of your pizzeria with your logo as the hero image on your site is not going to accomplish that. Putting a black and white photo of a Vespa doesn’t say “coal-fired pizza” either.
In the case of the amazingly good pizzeria Bricco, their site says that they offer coal-fired oven pizza, but which of the following site concept does a better job of communicating “coal-fired oven pizza?”
The second photo does a much better job of using a photo as the website’s welcome message. Without even using the words, the photo of the pizza in the oven says exactly what we can expect from this business; you can almost feel the heat and taste the smoke.
If you’re trying to position your restaurant as an old-time experience appealing to people’s sense of nostalgia, the photos used in the first example are better. However, this business and its site’s welcome message revolve around the way they make their pizza, which the black and white photos say nothing about. Your photography has to align perfectly with your website’s message and your business’s positioning in the marketplace.
Choosing a photo to serve as your website welcome message
Start by selecting a clear, concise message that you wish to communicate about your business or blog. Your photo much support the positioning of your product or services in the marketplace. You should be able to express this in a few words:
- We are reliable
- We are fun and creative
- We offer inexpensive or luxury products
- We are the brand of the young & young at heart
- We cater to a specific industry
- We’re the trusted incumbent in the market
- …pretty much any differentiator
Test Your Website’s Welcome Message
One of the top benefits of digital marketing is the ease with which we can test our messages.
While many businesses are tempted to believe that they got their website welcome message right on the first try, savvy digital marketers test various messaging through A/B tests. This allows you to measure the changes in visitor behavior in response to the different messages you convey through your website.
With tools like Google Optimize, you can deliver various versions of your website and track the amount of time people stay on page, the number of phone calls you receive, or the amount of sales you make on one version versus the other.
This data-driven approach to refining messaging reduces the amount of guesswork involved in your website’s welcome message and allows you to iterate and develop a website that produces the outcomes that you want.
Your Website’s Welcome Message and SEO
There are two important SEO considerations when crafting your website’s welcome message
Google refines its search results by tracking user behavior. If your messaging results in signals that indicate that people like what they’re finding on your website, the algorithm will be more likely to return your site in the results. Craft messaging that resonates with people and your site is more likely to increase in search rank.
Inclusion of targeted keywords in your header tags correlates with rank. If our friends at Bricco want to rank for “Coal-Fired Oven Pizza in NJ,” the site should include those keywords in the h1-h3 tags. This is not to say that they should keyword stuff. Frankly, if the page’s copy comes across as spammy and people react negatively as a result, keyword stuffing will end up doing more harm than good.
All-in-all, the Key is Clarity
The most important takeaway is to focus on being clear and concise. People should not have to guess what your website is about. Visitors should understand what makes you different without having to dive deeply into your website. A child should be able to understand what you do and why you are in business.