I have fallen in love with a travel website.
It's called CheeseWeb, and it's a blog dedicated to “slow travel.” Slow travel is staying in one place for longer periods of time while you're on the road and having full experiences in each place you stay.
When I stumbled upon it, the incredible photos and gorgeous design of the site made my mouth water. As an armchair traveler, it has now become one of my favorite travel sites.
One of the reasons why the site appealed to me during my first visit was CheeseWeb's amazing “Start Here” page.
The page told me:
- Who the main CheeseWeb writers are
- Why they started a slow travel blog
- Where I could find their best content
- How I could connect with them via email and social media
By the time I was finished reading the “Start Here” page, I had become a die-hard fan of the site's main writers, Alison and Andrew.
Since becoming a fan of their site, I've noticed more “Start Here” pages on various sites around the web. I'm now fascinated with this effective way for content marketers to create fast and valuable bonds with new readers who cross their paths for the first time.
Let's talk about what a “Start Here” section is, why it's important for your digital business, and how to turn yours into a high-converting page.
A powerful tool for bonding with your readers
A “Start Here” area is a page on your website that helps people have the best possible experience on your site. It assumes that people don't know who you are and have never visited your site before. It also gives them a brief introduction to your site's purpose and exactly what their next steps should be.
Here's CheeseWeb's “Start Here” page:
An effective “Start Here” page is like rolling out the red carpet for your visitors and giving new people a positive first impression of you. It's a smart way to communicate:
- Who you are
- What the purpose of your site is
- Where new visitors can find your best content
- How they can connect with you via email or social networking platforms
That's a big job for one page, right? But “Start Here” pages do that job beautifully (when they're done well) and that's why they're so powerful.
Give every visitor a great website experience
It's important to have a “Start Here” page on your site because website visitors - especially new visitors - are often like timid little birds when they land on your virtual real estate. They're cautious and looking for any opportunity to fly the coop, so you need to be gentle with them.
Your “Start Here” page allows you to be a patient, nurturing, non-threatening tour guide who's on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But your “Start Here” page never needs to take time off. It's on duty forever and waiting to give new visitors a great experience, every single moment of every single day.
A “Start Here” page might also be called “[Your Site Name] 101,” “Begin Your Journey,” “Getting Started,” or any other name that informs new visitors that the page is an initial jumping-off point for your site.
Regardless of what you call it, a great “Start Here” page can earn you repeat visitors, convert more visitors into subscribers, increase your social media following, and bring in more sales.
7 elements of an effective “Start Here” page
Here are seven elements you should consider including in your own “Start Here” page.
You don't necessarily need to include these elements in this order, but make sure your “Start Here” page is organized in a clear way that takes your reader on a journey from first-time visitor to educated site veteran.
1. Brief definitions of the key terms you use on your site
To avoid confusion, briefly define key terms you frequently use.
For example, Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income defines the term “passive income” close to the top of his “Start Here” page:
2. A concise statement about you and your mission
If you're a solopreneur, this will include your individual story (and might include details about why you started your business or website).
If you are a larger business, you can explain the origin story of the business and talk about the mission of your company. Keep this story brief - you can use your About page to give more details or publish your official bio.
Food blogger Lisa Leake delivers a short version of her story on her “Start Here” page:
3. A clear message for your ideal reader or visitor
People need to know whether the information on your site will benefit them. They want reassurance that your content will meet their needs.
Show that you understand your ideal visitor's issues and problems, and let him know he's in the right place to get solutions.
4. Links to your best content
Your “Start Here” section is the perfect place to link to your best content - especially your best resources for first-time visitors.
Don't go too crazy here. You want to include enough links that new visitors will find value and get lots of information, but not so many that they get overwhelmed and click away.
Consider organizing your links into categories if you have a lot of them. Put yourself in the shoes of a new visitor and choose categories that make sense for that person.
Here's an example from Michael Hyatt's “Start Here” page:
5. A prompt to join your email list
Your “Start Here” page should always include a strong call to action, so use that CTA to ask people to join your email list.
Explain why they should sign up and possibly offer a tantalizing incentive.
CheeseWeb invites you to be part of their community:
6. An invitation to connect on social networking sites (optional)
If you're active on any social networking platforms, you can include links that allow people to connect with you on those platforms.
Clearly label the links and include directions on how to connect with you.
7. A link to an entry-level product offer (optional)
If you have an entry-level product, consider offering it on your “Start Here” page. Include this offer toward the bottom of the page.
Discuss the benefits of any paid product you offer here in detail, so the reader knows why it's a good place for them to start. You want to avoid scaring away your new visitor and sending the message that you're just trying to make sales.
3 perfect entry points to your “Start Here” page
Where should you put links to your “Start Here” page? Here are three options.
1. In your top navigation bar, preferably on the far left side
Your visitors will naturally look at your navigation bar when they start browsing through your content, so put a link to your “Start Here” page in that bar. The “Start Here” or “Getting Started” button lets people know exactly where to begin on your site.
Adding it to the far left side of the navigation bar ensures that it will be one of the first things people notice, as seen here on Lisa Leake's site:
2. In a widget, slightly lower down on your home page
CheeseWeb's home page has a “Start Here” widget that includes a welcome message and a prominent “Start Here” button. This technique also works well because it grabs the attention of people scrolling through the home page of your site.
3. Make it your home page
You can even consider making your “Start Here” section the home page of your site. The Copyblogger home page orients people to the site's offerings.
Create your own “Start Here” page
Your “Start Here” page can create the perfect welcome for your new visitors and help them make the most of your site and your offerings.
Take some time today and outline the information new visitors need to know about your site when they first arrive. Then draft an original, friendly, and educational “Start Here” page.
Publish your “Start Here” page as soon as possible. Your prospects will be grateful for the warm welcome!
Have a favorite “Start Here” page? Share it in the comments section below.