Q and A: Can a cluttered home page affect search rankings?

Question

Hi Kalena,

I work on the  www.wordtravels.com website. Can the cluttered homepage negatively affect its overall page rank? What are your thoughts?

Thanks! Aimee

Dear Aimee,

In general terms, the fact that a page is “cluttered” would not necessarily have a direct impact on your rankings, but from a usability perspective a complex or “busy” home page can be confusing, and is likely to affect your conversion rate (the percentage of people that sign up to your service or make an enquiry).

If your site visitors find it difficult to find the information they are looking for,  they are more likely to leave the site without taking an action, so it is important that the info you provide on your home page is clear and easy to use – and funnels your visitors to the areas of the site that will be of specific interest to them – and it is there that you can start to provide detailed (and relevant) information.

One issue related to a “cluttered home page” that could affect your rankings, may actually be the inclusion of too much content.  What you say ?? How could there possibly be too much content ??  You have no doubt heard the SEO mantra – “Content is King” – well this is certainly true as far as I am concerned – but it doesn’t mean that you should put all your content on the one page.

Optimising your web site should involve choosing one or a very small number of keyword phrases to optimise for each page, by including relevant content for those specific phrases only.  Trying to squeeze all your target keyword phrases on the one page (probably resulting in a cluttered page), will not only be confusing to users – but is also likely to be confusing to Search Engines.  If a search engine cannot clearly identify the “purpose” of your page, because it contains too many conflicting keyword phrases for example, then it is not likely to give the page good rankings for many (or any) of those keyword phrases.

I’ve had a quick look at your site – and whilst it is certainly “busy”, it is relatively easy for a visitor to find a specific area they may be interested in.  Of more concern to me is the sheer number of links on your home page.  Google doesn’t like pages with lots of links (largely because users tend not to like them either).  Google has suggested a maximum of approx 100 links per page. A quick count of the links on your home page shows that you currently have over 600 – which is likely to raise some questions with Google (and not in a good way).

Hope that helps…

Andy Henderson
Ireckon Web Marketing

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