Most people go to a lot of effort to make their home page a welcoming entrance for first-time visitors. But in reality many – if not most – visitors will bypass your home page and enter your website on an interior page via a link in a search engine listing.
When you consider every page on your website is an entrance, you start to view your pages differently. You start to think of every page as a “home” page which must entice the reader to stick around, read the page and, hopefully, click a link to explore your site further.
Here are six tips to stop first-time visitors hitting the back button when they arrive at your site:
1. Answer visitors’ questions upfront
A visitor to your website will decide whether to stay or hit the back button in less than 10 seconds. In that short time they have to decide:
- Am I in the right place?
- Does this page have the information I’m looking for?
- Should I bother reading more?
As many as 50% of visitors will bail after a quick glance.
To prevent visitors bailing immediately you have to answer their questions ASAP. The content at the top of the page – such as the page header, headline and first paragraph – must work together to communicate quickly and clearly what the page is about and why a visitor should keep reading.
2. Create stand alone pages
When a visitor arrives via a link they have very little context for your website. So make sure every page is self-explanatory and can be understood without having to read any other pages on your site. It’s OK to repeat some information found on other pages if it helps the reader understand the page.
And be sure to put some links to related information at the end of the page. Because every page must be a starting point for further exploration, not an end point.
3. Have an informative page header
The page header is an important sign post that helps visitors orient themselves to your website. It should include:
- Your company name and/or logo in the top left-hand corner
- A link to the home page from your company name/logo
- A brief and descriptive website tagline that explains what your site is about.
Avoid large header graphics as they reduce the usable space above the fold (see below).
4. Put important information above the fold
“Above the fold” refers to the portion of a web page a reader can see without scrolling. Readers will only scroll down if you’ve successfully captured their attention and aroused enough curiosity to read on.
So don’t bury your lead. Don’t make visitors read a load of background information before they get to the point. A good tactic is to write a summary of the page in the first paragraph – just like a newspaper article. And don’t forget to include your most compelling benefits.
5. Ensure global navigation is clear and intuitive
Global navigation appears on every page of a site, usually under the page header and/or in the left hand column. For visitors who arrive through a link and decide to continue browsing your site, clear, concise and intuitive navigation labels are a must.
6. Link to related pages
When someone arrives at your page from a search engine you know they’re interested in the page’s topic. So it makes sense to link to relevant information on the same topic, such as articles and products. You can add a list of related links in a side bar or at the end of the page.