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August 25, 2010 By Hendrik-Jan Francke

Google Expanded Listings vs. Home Page

Are Google's expanded search links more efficient in navigating users to the information they want than the home pages they conceal? Jason Fried seems to think so. Whether you agree or not, Fried's article from 37signals begs the question: Should we implement a renewed focus on site usability? Perhaps—since the longevity of your website may depend on it.

Google is designed to fetch results that seem most likely to meet the searcher's needs. Under some results, Google displays expanded listings—specific links from the website that might interest a user. The expanded links often direct users to the information they want, allowing them to bypass a site's home page.

But while Google's listings provide an express lane for users looking for specific answers, they lack the individuality home pages use to persuade and educate potential clients.

The Home Page is where the heart is.

By offering a condensed list of site links, Google is exchanging individuality for readability. But you don't have to choose one over the other for your site. The best home pages will:

  • Help visitors understand your business and pull them deeper into your site.
  • Showcase other products that users didn't know they were looking for.
  • Create a hierarchy of information so key sales messages get noticed first.
  • Offer timely, relevant content that builds customer relationships.

The Curious Case of BroadPoint Technologies

An example of how Google Analytics may reveal surprising statistics is that of BroadPoint Technologies. When the company's name is searched on Google, 3 expanded links come up, ranked from most to least popular: Careers, Client Services, and Consulting Services.

BroadPoints specialty—Consulting—is ranked only 3rd among its highest Analytics traffic. Why? More people are concerned with getting hired by BroadPoint than hiring the company for consulting services.

Using this information, BroadPoint can re-focus its efforts on improving SEO results for consulting, which will increase sales and leads further down the road.

The Verdict?

When designed correctly, a home page can be just as user-friendly as Google's listings. While usability may seem like an added commodity, Google Analytics prove that it’s now a requirement for sites to stay afloat. Take BroadPoint's case as a lesson and don’t let your site's statistics surprise you!

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