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Ensure your home page tagline tells what you actually do

By Kim Harrison,

Consultant, Author and Principal of

When people arrive at your website’s home page, you have about 10 seconds to win them over. The majority of your visitors will decide in that short time whether to stay or leave. They have heaps of other websites they can easily visit if they find your home page confusing or unhelpful.

In view of this, the tagline on your website home page (and the underlying meta tag) is an important factor in influencing visitors to stay or move on. The more visitors stay, the better your results.

Using a good home page tagline is a fundamental principle of good website design. A good tagline is all too easy to forget about when providing the content under pressure from marketers to feature the slogan of the day.

Don’t confuse the tagline with a marketing slogan. The purpose of the tagline is to briefly describe what your organization does, while a marketing slogan is often just hype that doesn’t relate to site content that the search engines want.

The tagline should encapsulate what you actually provide. Visitors don’t want to read clichéd ‘solutions’ that say little about what is actually provided on your website.

How can you determine whether your tagline is suitable? Usability guru, Jakob Nielsen, advocates collecting the tagline from your own home page and from the home page of your closest competitors. Print them in a list without identifying the organization’s names. Read them and ask yourself whether you can tell which organization does what. Then ask a sample of external people the same question.

If the readers can’t readily identify your organization, you need to rewrite the tagline to be more descriptive.

Good taglines can be written relatively easily for most business-to-consumer (B2C) sites, but are more difficult for business-to-business (B2B) sites, which tend to sell products or services that are more complex. Summarizing the purpose is much harder with B2B sites, but is worth the effort.

Software sites are a classic example. If you read the tagline in most software sites, you will usually find a lot of waffle and puffery that only confuse the average customer.

Here’s a classic example of a home page that doesn’t even have a tagline. This is the lead text from the home page of a multi-billion dollar company. The first sentence (What makes…etc) is what appears in Google. It is completely meaningless to a visitor who is not familiar with the company:

Welcome to [Name}

What makes [Name] worth talking about is our proactive “can do” culture. We continually seek opportunities to improve our performance and provide high quality solutions to our clients.

There is literally nothing on the home page, not even the photograph, that identifies what the organization does.

The text continues in smaller font, but neither it nor the headings in the sidebar give any hint about what the company does:

Over the last two years, we have doubled in size, and trebled our work in hand. We have diversified our operations and have sustainable business plans in place to support further growth.
Our highly skilled and motivated teams lead the industry with their expertise and are committed to delivering on our promises.

It’s an exciting time at [Name}.

We employ over 6,000 dedicated and talented people, and offer a Career Worth Talking About

Perhaps the in-house writers think the company is a household name and therefore they can make the home page cleverly understated. Perhaps they are so close to the subject that they can’t see the wood for the trees. Perhaps they may argue that the company name sufficiently describes what they do – but there are plenty of contractors in any industry. Who is it? It is the Australian engineering company, Leighton Contractors. Go to their home page to see for yourself:

The problem for such companies is that they aren’t a household name for everyone. Such a home page won’t convey what their business is about in the search engines. And therefore prospective employees will find it unnecessarily difficult to find.

Compare Leighton’s effort with one of their competitors, Multiplex. Here is the Multiplex tagline that comes up on Google:

Multiplex is a fully integrated and diversified business with operations in Property Funds Management, Property Development, Construction and Infrastructure ...

Isn’t that a whole lot better?

You can find many similar examples on the World Wide Web. As the home page tagline is particularly important to organizations engaged in e-commerce, why don’t you check yours to see if you can improve it? You are likely to find your traffic increasing and therefore sales increasing as well.

About the Author

Kim Harrison is a recognized authority in the public relations field. His website,, provides a wealth of informative articles and resources on public relations techniques and management.


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