Who Sees Your Home Page?

There are many names for the page that shows up at the “root” of your domain. “Home Page.” “Front Page.” “Front Door.” “Welcome Page.” The names all imply that this is the 1st page a visitor sees. This is your smiling face. Your firm handshake. Your elevator pitch. Unfortunately, all these names are often misleading.

What the Numbers Say

12.5% pie chart

That bright blue section represents the percentage of MRWweb.com visitors that looked at the home page at any time during their visit to the site. That’s about 12.5%!

Let’s look at some other sites for which I have access to data. This is for the 30 days ending May 11, 2015.

% of Visitors Who Saw Home Page% of Column 1 Visitors Who Started on Home Page
 32% 91%
 98% 44%
 64% 98%
 30% 93%

Here’s that data as a dot plot:

Dot chart comparing visits to home page and percentage of those visits where home is the landing page.
Note the truncated x-axis!

As an aside: There’s an interesting correlation there that I didn’t expect. For sites where more visitors see the home page at any time in their visit, it’s more likely that they see it first. Now of course, there wasn’t a single site where fewer than 90% of visitors who saw the home page at all started there, but I still found that interesting.

But here’s my main take away from that data: On most sites I looked at, fewer than 50% of visitors saw the home page at any time.

What This Means

To me, this says we can’t rely on our home pages to house unique information not found elsewhere. If you explain your organization on the home page, you still need an “About” page. If you have a donate button your home page, it should appear everywhere on the site too (maybe in a sidebar or header).

Your home page might be great, but don’t forget about the 35-80% of your site visitors who never see it!

Caveats / Methods

This is a very non-random sample for a specific time of year and a wide variety of sites. Check your own stats to see how your site compares.

Here’s how to do that:

  1. In Google Analytics, go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.
  2. Click the data row that represents the home page. It’s likely “/” or “/index.php” for a WordPress site.
  3. Select the “Secondary Dimension” of “Landing Page.”
  4. Column 2 above is the percentage of “All Sessions” listed toward the top of the page.
  5. Column 3 above is the percentage of “Unique Page” views in the fourth column of data.

Diagram of Instructions for Finding Analytics Data

I didn’t look into why there’s a 51% gap between different sites for percentage of visitors who see home pages within this sample. I’d guess it has a lot to do with how that site promotes itself in search and social media.

So what do you think? Surprised? What do you make of this?

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