We’re about to discuss something controversial in the SEO world and explain how you should totally rethink the way you do homepage SEO.
One of the issues we come across over and over again is that people want to rank for all of their main key phrases on their home page.
As a result, they spend both time and money building links to the home page to help them target those keywords.
But when we show them what a home page link map truly looks like, most of the time people are surprised to see how many backlinks a homepage has. And not only that, but how few anchor texts actually have any reference to a keyword.
The reality is that keyword-rich anchors are almost counterintuitive. Any successful SEO knows that keyword rich anchors alone won’t help you.
Let’s think about this.
Google trusts big brands.
Why? Because big brands can get links naturally.
Face it, they can do this just as much as they can afford to buy links from a service like us, but people, businesses, and publications link to big brands all the time, naturally.
Brands are newsworthy, brands get PR, and people share the brands they love.
So Google can check backlinks from a big brand with confidence and know that for the most part the links were acquired naturally.
If they know the links are natural, then the anchor text distribution of a brand is the template we should probably follow to show Google that your website should be considered a legitimate brand.
So what do we do? We copy the big brands.
More specifically, we copy the backlink profile of their home page.
Why the homepage?
Your homepage is your most important page in your site. If brand fanatics or the press are going to link to you, most of the time it will be to the home page.
And this is where we establish trust with Google.
Should The Homepage Of My Website Contain SEO?
Many people struggle with this question of whether the homepage of their website should contain SEO.
The answer is yes.
By all means, do on page SEO for your homepage. Target whatever key phrases you want to target. But when it comes to link building and anchor texts, you’ll have to exercise constraint.
The temptation is there to use the most powerful page in your website to target your most important key phrases.
It’s an internal battle every SEO or business deals with but, you have to remember, the most important thing you can do in SEO is build trust with Google.
The more trust you build, the more authority your site will have. It’s simple.
Let’s check out an example of what the trust from Google can do for your website.
Overstock.com is a huge powerhouse online e-commerce brand. They are a competitor to Amazon and other major online retailers.
They have about 17k links from unique domains pointing just at the home page.
90% of those links are either the brand name or some form of the URL as the anchor text. And the vast majority of the other anchors contain the brand name Overstock in the anchor as well.
With such a large scale of links from referring domains, almost all containing the brand name in some way you can understand why Google trusts Overstock.com.
Let’s go over another example from a very well known website in the SEO industry.
Backlinko.com is owned by Brian Dean and the site ranks in the top 10 for pretty much all of the key phrases that are big in the SEO world.
But guess what, he doesn’t target any keywords with links to his home page.
In fact, if you look at his homepage backlink profile, he has 12k referring domains and 98% of his links are his brand, his name, or some form of his URL.
That’s right. 98%.
He doesn’t focus on keywords on his home page at all. He writes huge blog posts and targets his keywords there.
Are you starting to catch the vision?
Why building Google trust is important
Once you are trusted by Google, getting ranked in Google becomes so… much… easier.
Let’s go back to Overstock.com and see an example of this.
If you search the key phrase “mens gold bracelets,” guess who shows up #1?
Yep, it’s Overstock.
You’re probably saying to yourself, big deal, you just told us they are a huge brand.
Look at the backlink profile for that page. You’ll see that no other site (besides a couple of spammy search engines) link to that page.
Overstock can rank for an extremely competitive key phrase that has almost 10k searches a month without one single legitimate link to that page. And the way they do it is with the brand authority and trust they have built with Google.
Again, this is why it is so important to focus on brand building through link building on your home page.
It is how you need to do your homepage SEO. Become a big brand in Google’s eyes.
Is it going to happen overnight? No. But as long as you consistently build links (and in the proper way) to your homepage, your brand authority will grow.
How To Build Homepage Backlinks
So how do you build backlinks to your homepage to match a big brand?
First, you need to stop building links with keyword-related anchors for your home page. Remember 80%-90% of the links to your homepage should contain no reference to any keyword in the anchor text unless there happens to be a keyword in your brand name.
Let’s look at Amazon’s home page link profile. First list the anchor text that is used most often in links pointing to their home page. Then, list the percentage of links that have that anchor text:
Those are the top 5 anchors for AutoTrader.com’s home page making up 85% of their home page links.
This is how you build trust with Google and make your website look like a real brand.
So, for example, when we’re building backlinks to the homepage of SEOJet, 80%-90% of the links will have one of these as the anchor text:
I know you’re having an internal battle right now thinking, “How can I justify spending the time and money it is going to take to get links that are nothing but URL and brand name as the anchor?”
The answer is simple. It is what works.
This is what will make all of the difference in your SEO. This is what will keep you safe from future Google backlink updates. (Notice how big brands are hardly affected by the updates?)
Build this into your SEO proposals when you are trying to land new clients. This is what will make the difference for your SEO clients anyway.
Your homepage SEO strategy needs to be “build my brand, build my brand, build my brand.”
Once you have gained Google’s trust, you can then focus on keywords for other pages of your site, and it becomes so much easier to rank on those pages.
Yes, you can still build links to other pages.
As you are building trust on your home page it is totally fine to also build links to other pages in your site. In fact, it would look unnatural if you only pointed links to your homepage.
Overall, we recommend the following guideline:
For every 1 link you build to a sub page or power page to your site, build 1 link to your home page.
For example, let’s say you get 1 link each to 3 sub pages in your site, then I would recommend you build about 3 new links to your homepage as well.
Keep in mind that this a guideline and not a hard rule. The point is to have more links pointing to your homepage than any other page.
(Psst. Don’t know what a sub page or a power page is? Cut to the chase and book a call with us to find out. You might already have some and not even know it. These babies make all the difference in your brand authority.)
Homepage SEO Content
Now, we haven’t talked much about the content you should have on the homepage.
Trying to rank for your most important keywords on your homepage isn’t bad. But since the links going to your homepage will be 80% branded, you will 100% need great content.
A lot of brands spend time talking about the history of their company, or post pictures of their team on their homepage. This will do nothing for your SEO. And, forgetting SEO for a second, this will do nothing for your customers.
The customers are the ones who need a transformation in their story. They are the ones who are trying to build a team, or run a successful business.
The point is, cut to the chase. Tell them how you have a solution for them; How you can make their life better. And do it in one to two sentences.
The mentality should always be, “Brand first, then SEO.”
If this one to two sentence blurb is a natural place to plug your keyword, then go for it. If not, then plug it in the body text or H2’s.
If you are targeting specific cities, be sure to include the names of those cities in your content as well.
However, if your goal is to build brand on the home page then you don’t need much content to do that.
SEO Homepage Title
Like mentioned before, it is fine to target a couple of key phrases on your homepage. In fact, we highly recommend you do that in your SEO title if possible.
For the home page content, stick to one to two (maximum) keyword focuses. Save the other keywords for your other pages.
Another big thing is to make sure to include your brand name in the title.
You can see on SEOJet’s homepage our title starts out with our brand name, then has one keyword and then who the software is for.
It is written more for click-through-rates rather than SEO.
Exact Match Domains
How do exact match domains play into all of this? If an exact match domain is your brand this homepage SEO strategy becomes a little bit trickier.
Here is how we approach it.
Instead of getting a high percentage of links with my brand name (which would also be an exact match key phrase) we place the majority of the home page links as ExactMatchDomain.com.
So for example, if we owned www.seosoftware.com, as we built links to our home page we would make our backlink profile look something like this:
If you got to this blog post from a search engine then you’re most likely wondering what SEOJet is and how it can help you do better homepage SEO.
What Is SEOJEt?
SEOJet literally tells you what anchor text to use for every backlink you get. It uses backlink data from #1 ranked pages in Google to help you build a backlink profile that matches other #1 ranked pages.
In terms of doing SEO on your home page, the software looks at your existing homepage links and then tells you exactly what to do for each following link to build brand trust with Google.
The software automatically creates what we call a link map for your homepage and for any other page you care about.
A link map is a road map for your backlink strategy. It is where we show you what your current backlink profile looks like and which anchor text you need to do next to keep things looking natural.
Because everyone wants to know what their competitor is doing to rank #1 I created the Competitor Lock feature.
This report looks at your top-ranked competitor and shows you why they are ranked ahead of you and what you can do to beat them.
There are some other really cool things the software does but to learn more we recommend you go check out our demo where we also show you some really cool and easy to follow SEO strategies.
Let SEOJet help you naturally build trust with Google. Our home page link maps will guide your backlinking efforts so that every link you build will have real purpose and will move you toward a #1 ranked backlink profile.