What keywords should I optimise my homepage for?


If you’re doing SEO for a big ecommerce site which sells everything including the kitchen sink – department stores, catalogues that sort of thing this is a question which will undoubtedly come up…

We’ve got 1,000,000 products in 5,000 categories – what keywords should we optimise our homepage for?

Usually the homepage’s of these mahusive shops will have a load of link equity i.e. Argos have got about 3,500 linking root domains. But in almost all the cases I can find these shops are failing to make good use of that homepage power in their keyword strategy.

What you often find in these big ecommerce organisations is there’s warring factions at play internally, all competing for homepage exposure for their category of products which can make this a bit more difficult but lets cast that aside and focus on the SEO…

Most sites with this problem will go down one of 2 routes:

1) Optimise for a generic catch all term like “Online shopping”

I don’t like this approach as not only will it be pretty competitive but also any traffic you get from a term like that is likely to convert poorly as its too generic to capture qualified shoppers

2) List your key product categories

Like HMV’s page title:

Buy Music CDs, DVDs, Games, Consoles, Blu Ray, MP3s & More

or Amazon‘s:

Amazon.co.uk: Low Prices in Electronics, Books, Sports Equipment & more

This isn’t a bad strategy if you can make it work but usually I find big retailers get whooped on these types of category keywords by more specialist retailers and exact match domains. Even the mighty Amazon homepage doesn’t rank for any of the categories they seem to be targeting in their homepage page title.

Here’s what I’d do instead…

Rather than picking a few big keywords to plonk on your homepage which remain pretty static throughout your campaign, instead use your homepage to rank quickly for seasonal terms and trending products. So in Novemeber you might use the homepage to target “Christmas shopping”, quickly after you’ll want to switch it up to focus on “January sales”, then “Valentines gifts”. In the lead up to summer you might want to target “Gas BBQ’s” or when a hot new product comes out like the “Nintendo 3DS” that’s what you go after on your homepage.

The point about your homepage is any changes you make to it are likely to be indexed very quickly and because of all the link equity/ PageRank pointing to it this is the fastest way to get a ranking for lucrative seasonal terms. As any etailer will attest to, hitting seasonal shopping trends like this is where the money is at.

A really nice example of this which I grabbed ages ago but can’t find the screenshot of now was Ticketline (I think, or it might of been See tickets, sorry!) anyway when Take That released their tour dates last year and the whole ticketing business wanted to rank for “Take that tickets” they flipped their usual homepage onto a different url, introduced a Take That splashpage on the homepage url and ranked top 5 just as the tickets dropped. Good job!

How do you decide what keywords to target on your homepage?