Business Tools

Why Your Homepage Is Confusing Your Customers

One of the five biggest mistakes that companies make when advertising on the web is sending traffic generated from an ad directly to the homepage. Matt Bailey, president of Site Logic Marketing, provided this tip in many others through the SEMA webinar “10 Search Engine Tips That Will Increase Your Online Business Now.” Part of Bailey's presentation was centered around the use of Pay-Per-Click advertising and the Google Adwords system.

To demonstrate why it’s confusing to direct potential customers to a company’s homepage, or to the same webpage for all company ads, Bailey conducted an online search for Camaro door panels during the session. Among the results was an ad for aftermarket auto parts. When Bailey clicked the ad, he was dropped in to the advertiser’s homepage, which did not contain any of the keywords he used and no information on Camaro or door panels. This resulted in Bailey using what he dubbed as a searcher’s best friend: the back button.

While driving traffic to your site is one factor of creating customers, providing a way to move them through the site and close the sale is the ultimate goal, explained Bailey. “Make sure that you send customers to a page that is consistent with the items that they were searching for,” he said. Once customers know that your company has what they need, don’t establish any barriers—marketing messages, company news, other product announcements, graphics and other items that load up a homepage—that will stop them from proceeding and completing the transaction.

In addition to not sending web traffic generated through an ad to a home page, the other four mistakes outlined by Bailey are:

Ego Bidding: Bailey explained that these are the companies that want to rank number one in search results and have the number-one ad. Bailey says that if you are just trying to outrank others, including those who aren't necessarily your competitors, you are wasting your advertising budget.

One Ad, Many Keywords: This happens when a company uses one ad and tries to make it work for multiple products. As an example, Bailey points to the personal electronics industry, where one company used the same generic ad and repurposed it for several product categories, such as TVs, mobile phones and DVD players. Bailey says this goes against his suggestion of making sure your ads are consistent with what people are searching for.

Focusing on the Wrong Metrics: Instead of just monitoring click-throughs, Bailey says that companies need to track sales, profits and returns on investment. Again, he emphasized, driving traffic to your site is good, but getting people to buy is the goal. Use the correct metrics to monitor the behavior of visitors as they work their way through your site. This process will help companies determine the impact and effectiveness of the website and reveal the tendencies of its visitors.

Not Using Negative Words: This is one of the biggest mistakes that Bailey sees most often. The problem is that people do not fully understand the power of negative words in the Google Adwords system. When setting up your ad, choosing which negative terms to include will help you exclude the searches that are not relevant. To demonstrate, Bailey used the example of the term "auto parts." Knowing that there are O’Reilly Auto Parts stores, a company can add the term "O’Reilly" to its negative terms so that their ad won’t show up when the term "O’Reilly" is used in a search. If your ads show up on a search and no one clicks on them, it can affect your quality score in Google. Negative words help your company show up in relevant searches and not show up for irrelevant searches.

To learn more from Bailey, including increasing your company’s search rankings and how to capitalize on how people search and find the items that they want on the web, download this presentation in its entirety.

For archives of previously conducted sessions, a schedule of upcoming sessions and more information about SEMA webinars, visit

Matt Bailey is one of the featured speakers for the upcoming SEMA Show Education Days. Check out all of the sessions taking place at the 2010 Show. For complete information on the 2010 SEMA Show, visit