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I see many cool funky websites these days who have good page rank, but have little to no text on their homepage.

It's been my understanding for a while now that search engines parse through your text and gather keywords to gain information on the relevancy of your page for a specific search query, but how are these sites getting around this when they have no text on their homepage?

Is my understanding of SEO out of date (I am assuming this is likely), and if so, what SEO approach can I use if I wanted to redesign my site to have little to no text on the homepage?

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"...no text on their site" - on their site or just not on the front page? Is the front page being targeted as a landing page? Does it appear in search results over specific content rich sub pages? –  w3d Jun 11 '13 at 16:11
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Some examples could be useful. –  Max Jun 12 '13 at 10:11

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Here's my spin on it!

Let's pretend for a moment that Google works of a radio signal, now to increase your signal strength you can use things such as header tags, title, text content and so on! Now with less content your effectively making your signal have less strength...

Now the term less is more is kinda a well used phrase when it comes to website design and from my personal experience when you have less you need more and what I mean by this is that you need to boost your radio signal using site authority and off page SEO which include things such as:

  • Backlinks with relevant sites (quality sites)
  • Citations if your trying to rank locally (huge factor)
  • Reviews i.e Google Plus/Trip Advisor, etc. (good factor, but more local results)
  • Social media mentions and links
  • Site authority (this is a tricky one to resolve if your site isn't focused on a certain niche, if your site is all about website design for example and all other pages are about web design then its easier to rank on weaker pages on that niche, if your site varies a lot of topic then it's much harder)

So it is possible to rank very thin based content pages but it is a lot harder than pages with content, more is less but with less you need more!

Another take on this is what Steven said in his post, it's easier in general to have deeper pages ranking in any case, you could focus more on deeper pages than the top page.

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Just to make it a bit clearer: you will have a very hard time to get your pages to show in the search results with little to no text on them. The content on your pages is under your control, the things outside of them usually aren't. If you want it to be found for specific words, you can either hope it somehow works, or take control and use them on your page. –  John Mueller Jun 19 '13 at 6:19
    
Thanks @JohnMueller for your feedback, always appreciated. –  bybe Jun 19 '13 at 10:01

If you have little text on your home page you are limiting the number of keywords that you will rank for with that page.

For most sites, that is probably OK. You want your home page to rank for your brand name. Google can determine that from:

  • The title of the home page
  • The site URL
  • Inbound links to the home page

Beyond the brand name, searchers are often better off landing at deep URLs that have more specific content anyway.

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If we are talking about an average website (blog, e-commerce site, etc.), the homepage is VERY important in terms of SEO. It's usually the main landing page that brings most traffic that's why you cannot simply put some Flash on it, as if it's a Disneyland website :)

The important thing is not to optimize your homepage for the same keywords you optimize your category pages. In other words, you shouldn't target two pages for the same keyword. For example, if all you sell is t-shirts, don't target your home page for the word "t-shirts" and have a category page optimized for "t-shirts". Then, if someone searches for "t-shirts," search engines don't know which page to display, and both of your pages can rank lower.

Instead, try to make sure that your homepage:

  • targets your brand name + general product keywords
  • includes text/visuals on products/services
  • has links to the landing pages and category pages
  • helps a user quickly understand what your site's about
  • does NOT include any auto-play content (it'll just freaking irritating)

And look at the top-ranking competitors in the niche - see what content strategy they follow and what you can take from that.

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The homepage of your website is the first thing Google sees when crawling your website, and in the large majority of the cases, it is the most important page of your site (source).

However, other solutions to a comprehensive, hidden SEO do exist.

  • Metatags
  • Hidden text
  • Image attributes
  • Anchor text links
  • Proper use of <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, etc.
  • Sitemap

There are probably a lot more, but that's what I can remember from the top of my head.

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