Use That Header of Yours (and the Footer Too!)
By: Pasha Kagan
The header of the website is the first thing that pops when a new visitor sees your website, therefore its importance should never be underestimated.
This is a tool for capturing the eye, providing data to your users and search engines and the main thing that one should consider when pondering the term “first impression” in regard on the website. The footer is the “bottom line”, a valuable place which we’ll learn how to use properly as well.
First, obviously, we’ll discuss the header.
When comparing websites to real-estate, which we do often, the header is basically the center of the town, “where the dollar is”, so to speak. Thus, just writing your company name is rarely enough to use that massive billboard of yours and maximize its potential.
Let’s talk about size.
Of course, it mainly depends on anything else on your homepage, but a header should rarely exceed, let’s say, 20% of the total height. If more than fifth of your website is covered by the banner, you’re probably not using the space very wisely. Keep it slim and compact.
The second point should be its contents.
Most personal websites would put a logo in the header, accompanied by the name of your site (or company) and a short slogan, if applicable. SEO experts will recommend using an H1 tag to emphasize that main text in the eyes of search engines (well, not exactly eyes…), others might recommend ‘saving’ it for keywords – it’s basically a matter of approach.
An important lesson learned from experience is that placing your phone number on your header should be a ‘must’. Having access to some statistics of several successful websites, I can say that when the webmaster chooses to include their phone number at the very top, people would trust him more.
Now, to the footer.
Resting comfortably at the bottom of your website, it is a place that can serve both you and your client very well.
Most webmasters look at this place as a good location for “action links”: a button that sets the page as a homepage, a button that returns the user to the top of the page and a button that adds the page to the user’s bookmarks. Besides those, you should also place your copyright information down there – as most people learned to look for it below. It’s also a good place for terms and conditions.
What else, you might ask, should I put there?
Well, from the SEO angle, it’s a place on your page like any other (not really, but try to stay with me on this line of thought) and it contributes to the overall density of words on your page. If you’re lacking in keywords, you might want to place some more in a thoughtful way in the footer. Be aware, don’t just place linked keywords, it’s bad karma with search engines. Instead, create useful links. Useful ideas may include “more about website building”, “more about website design” – you know, stuff that might actually interest your visitor.
In conclusion, think of these two elements as billboards on major junctions: put on your advertiser suit and try to come up with the best way to use the valuable space. Don’t overdo and keep things in good taste, and you should do fine in exploiting this resource.
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