Are Homepages The Most Important To Google?

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            Are Homepages The Most Important To Google?

A recent statement by a Googler appears to strongly emphasize that the home page is the most important page of a website to Google. And that’s kind of different from how some in the search community consider which page is most important.

It’s commonly  understood that links play an important role in telling Google what pages of a website are important.

But there are multiple statements from Googlers that may indicate that the homepage may be the most important part of a website.

Home Page Importance

The home page used to be considered the most important page of a website in the early days of SEO because everyone obtained links from directories and reciprocal linking which overwhelmingly resulted in home page links. That in turn made the home page the most powerful.

But nowadays the most important pages for many (but not all) sites are generally the inner pages because people link to content (or build links to it). It’s a longtime link building trend to build links to important inner pages so that pages about XYZ have a better chance to rank for XYZ and so on.

How Important Is the Home Page To Google?

So it was a little surprising to see Gary Illyes emphatically assert that the homepage of a site is the most important page to Google.

The context is in a Search Off the Record podcast (linked at the end of this article) about debugging technical SEO issues with a website. This specific part was about how to figure out if dropped traffic is a technical or a quality issue.

It’s happened on other sites that people quote a few sentences that a Googler spoke or quote two sentences from a 31 page patent and make unfounded claims based on the out of context statements.

Which is why I’m showing the context so that the statement makes sense in the way it was spoken.

Illyes says:

“First, you want to figure out whether the page is in Search or not. Because if the page is not in Search, then you already narrowed it down to two very specific things.”

Within that context of checking if Google can crawl the site he continues:

“Usually I start with the home page, because I can’t speak for other search engines, obviously, but from Google’s perspective, the homepage is the most important page on the site, and homepage is a little vague here, because it can be the page wherever users are landing on when they enter your domain name or host name.

Like if www.example.com redirects to www.example.com/foo/bar, then that will be your homepage.

Check that because we, as in Google, will try very hard to index that or crawl and index that.

If that’s not indexed, then you probably have some problems.”

That’s a fairly emphatic statement about how important the homepage is to Google.

Different Ways Homepage Is Important To Google

John Mueller has made statements about how Google uses the homepage as a starting point for crawling a website to find new pages and also for understanding how important pages are by observing how many clicks away a page is from the homepage.

In 2020, John Mueller said something similar in the context of answering a question about the importance of pages being linked from the home page.

Mueller explained:

“…on a lot of websites the home page is the most important part of the website. So we re-crawl that fairly often and from there we try to find new and updated pages or other important pages.

So what will happen is, we’ll see the home page is really important, things linked from the home page are generally pretty important as well.

And then… as it moves away from the home page we’ll think probably this is less critical.

That pages linked directly from the home page are important is fairly well known but it’s worth repeating. In a well organized website the major category pages and any other important pages are going to be linked from the home page.”

Mueller has been consistent about this point of view about the homepage.

We can even go as far back as 2018 where Mueller said something similar.

In a response to a question about whether it matters how many forward slashes there are in a URL John Mueller mentioned that the homepage was “the strongest” page on a website.

That could be a reference to the homepage being the most linked to and therefore the “strongest” page of the site. But he didn’t elaborate on that point so it can’t be said for certain.

Mueller said:

“What does matter for us a little bit is how easy it is to actually find the content.

So especially if your homepage is generally the strongest page on your website, and from the homepage it takes multiple clicks to actually get to one of these stores, then that makes it a lot harder for us to understand that these stores are actually pretty important.

On the other hand, if it’s one click from the home page to one of these stores then that tells us that these stores are probably pretty relevant, and that probably we should be giving them a little bit of weight in the search results as well.

So it’s more a matter of how many links you have to click through to actually get to that content rather than what the URL structure itself looks like.”

How Important Is The Homepage To Google?

I’m not saying that the homepage is the most important part of a website to Google regardless of whether it’s the most linked to page or not. It could be that this is just a generality and not an across the board fact that the homepage is the most important page to Google.

But…

It is interesting that there are many statements out there from Googlers about how Google uses links from the homepage as the starting point for understanding how important inner pages are. Plus, there’s the recent statement from Gary Illyes where he emphasizes that the homepage of a site is important to Google.

Listen to the Search Off The Record podcast at the 5:50 minute mark and make up your own mind:

Featured Image by Shutterstock/fizkes

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