In this article I'll show you how to make your niche website homepage SEO friendly. You'll learn what layout to use, what components to include and how these all combine to help you grow your audience and SEO rankings.
Design and Layout
When designing your website then, your primary aim should be to make it easy for visitors to understand your site and easy for them to navigate, consume and share your content.
In the 'Layout Design' image you can see the basic homepage SEO layout I use for all of my niche sites. It's simple and easy to recreate for each new site that I start.
This design not only helps your visitors but also helps search engines to index your articles.
Below is one of my own niche sites as an example with the key components you need numbered
Let's take a look at each section in turn.
In the header section you want to have these 3 components
One of the main objective of you site is to provide useful content in an easy to consume way. To reduce distraction from your content, keep the header section height as small as possible. That means creating a logo that is rectangular in shape and fairly flat similar to the one in the example above.
Square or tall logos might look nice, but they don't work as well as the simpler, more horizontal logos. You will need a much bigger header to accommodate these which distracts from your content
The top menu on your site can have a big impact on both homepage SEO and visitor usability.
I recommend creating categories for your blog articles and using these as your menu items. But make sure they are descriptive.
Your top menu is a huge opportunity to tell search engines what your site is about.
Don't use general labels such as 'products' or 'services'. People search for more specific things, so when creating your categories try to be as specific as possible. In my example header above, you'll notice that I have very specific categories and specific product labels.
If you are just starting out and are not sure what categories to use, another easy way to get ideas is to check out your competitors sites. After looking at several similar sites to your own, you should soon start to get a good feel for the kind of categories other site owners are using in your chosen niche.
In regards to structuring your menu, put the most important category as the first menu item. Also avoid drop down menus as they add too much clutter.
And lastly, try to limit the number of items to 7 at most... even that might be too much. I usually try to get it down to 5 or 6 as having too a lot of menu items is proven to distract visitors. Also, having a smaller number of menu items gives your visitors a really clear idea of what your site is about.
Having great navigation and a clean layout will be helpful for your visitors to find what they need, but you should keep in mind that people usually visit niche sites because they are searching for something specific.
That's why I recommend you always add a search box in your header.
A lot of site owners don't show the search box on the mobile view or they hide it away in the hamburger menu. I think this is a mistake. Mobile is used more often than desktop nowadays, so make sure you give your visitors a search box so that they can find what they are looking for quickly.
Here's how I configure my mobile headers.
Main Content Section
In the main content section you want to have these following 4 components
Latest Post Banner
For the desktop view only, I alway have a nice, simple, bright banner at the top of the page as shown above. This shows the title, date and the featured image from the latest blog post so that visitors can quickly and easily see new content.
Blog Post List
When creating the design for your blog post list, a simple and clean structure will help the most with your homepage SEO.
Make sure you have an attractive, relevant, featured image, a clear bold title, the date (so that your readers and the search engines know what the latest content is) and enough summary text to get your readers interested in clicking to read more.
Both of these directly and indirectly help with homepage SEO.
It directly helps search engines to index and categorise your content. Indirectly it helps, because more visitors will click to read your content. This means they spend more time on your site, and the more engaged visitors are with your site the higher your rank in search results.
Sidebar with Site Author Bio
On the desktop view of your site, the sidebar appears... well... at the side 😉
On mobile however, any content in the sidebar should be moved below the blog list.
It's important for your visitors to see a human being behind the site. Humans connect with other humans and having a good photo and some explanation about you and why you started the site is a good way to build trust.
Even though the Author Bio is not a huge deciding factor for homepage SEO, it does contribute as it gives the search engines more general information about your niche topic.
A word about links - If you have links in your Bio it may appear to Google that you are trying to create some kind of backlink network. I personally don't use links in my Bios but if you do want to use them, make sure to set them to nofollow links.
Numbered Page Navigation
There are a lot of fancy ways to help your visitors navigate from one page of your blog to the next, however, search engines have a tougher time mapping out your content unless you stick to a simple numbered page navigation like the one shown below.
This is all part of having a great site structure that is easy to index.
Search engine bots crawl a website’s structure. Their objective is to index the content for search results. The better your site structure, the easier you make it for crawlers to index your content.
Without going into too much technical SEO concepts, the basic takeaway should be that the easier you make it for visitors to get to other pages directly from your home page the better those pages will likely rank in search engines.
Having a numbered navigation is one way to reduce clicks as opposed to, for example, a simple next/ previous navigation or a 'load more' or infinite scroll navigation.
Your footer section should, at the very least, contain links to what I call your 'legal notices'
Adding a Copyright with the current year to your footer is good practice and can be an opportunity to ensure that all of your pages are updated at least once a year.
If you use Thrive Themes, you can take advantage of their dynamic 'global fields' to ensure that the year updates automatically.
Below you can see that I am using Thrive Themes Architect. I've set the Time & Date to show the year using the 'dynamic text' feature. When the New Year rolls around, this automatically updates my footer and therefore all of my pages get a minor update and trigger a fresh index of my site.
Google and other major search engines want to list trustworthy sources of information at the top of the results. If you don't have the proper legally required notices, then you will lose out to those that do, so make sure these appear at the bottom of all your pages by linking them in your footer.