Why Your Homepage Isn’t as Important as You Think

Authors tend to spend a great deal of time designing and perfecting their homepage. They treat it just like a book cover, as authors often assume that this is the page that people see first, and it’s the one that will determine whether someone decides to stay or go. Well, that’s only partially true…

You see, a website is not like a book. It’s not linear. People don’t start at page one and then peruse through. In fact, it’s safe to assume that a chunk of people visiting your website will never see your homepage.

Here’s why: The majority of people who visit your website probably don’t just type in your domain name. Instead, they go to Google and search for your name or one of your book titles. The page that shows up on search results is often not your homepage; it’s the page on which that search term appears most frequently. If the search term was your name, someone is likely to wind up on your bio page. If the search term is your book title, then they may enter your site through your book page. It’s how much you impress them on those entry pages that will determine whether someone will stay, give you their email address, buy a book, etc…

So what does this mean? It means that you have to make a good first impression just about everywhere on the website. Here are some creative ways to do that:

  • Have the most important (and impressive) information appear site-wide. For example, if you have a testimonial from a NY Times book reviewer saying that your book is the best one he ever read (don’t we wish!), that should be either in the header or in a sidebar that appears on every page.
  • Have each page serve a different purpose. If the goal of your book page is to sell your book, have everything someone would need to know about WHY and HOW to purchase your book right there on the book page. The goal of your author page may be to get people to give you their email address or become a twitter follower. Make sure to promote all those things on the author page.
  • Include links to buy your book everywhere! I can’t stress this enough. You never know how someone is going to find your site, or which page will be the first one they visit. You don’t want to make people click around if they like what they see — wherever they arrive. Make it easy to buy your book with one click on every page of the website.

Lastly, I recommend that everyone set up a free Google Analytics account and review their site traffic data regularly. It’s only by knowing which pages on your site are visited the most that you can tweak your content and ensure that each page gets the attention it deserves.