You may or may not have heard of the term "splash page," but you most likely have encountered (and possibly been annoyed by) them when browsing the Internet.
Like a cover to a book, a splash page is typically a page of graphics or flash animation displayed when entering a website's homepage. It's designed to capture the user's attention with some introduction followed by a clickable "Enter" link. Some provide a "Skip Intro" prompt in a lower corner to bypass the intro and navigate to the main website.
Splash pages gained in popularity in the early 2000s, but as Internet users have become more accustomed to quick and easy access of information, they have been eliminated from nearly all popular websites. Why is that? Here are several reasons behind their disappearance.
Splash Pages Hurt Website Traffic. Users intentionally navigated to the website somehow, either by searching keywords in Google or clicking a link from another page. In other words, they want in to a website to get information and don't want to be interrupted by an unnecessary graphic intro (especially one with no material information). Users want information from websites, not a 5-7 second commercial.
Splash Pages Hurt Search Engine Rankings. It's no surprise that a large portion of website visitors (especially for financial advisors) come from clicking links in search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.). How do search engines appropriately rank a website? They examine a page's text content to determine who or what the page is about. If there's no text on a page (read: a splash page), then it must not really be about anything, so a search engine won't bother to index the page. After all, there's nothing to index!
Metadata on Splash Pages Doesn't Work. Ok, so a splash page might not have any text, but the website designer (does anyone still use the term webmaster today?) instead populates the website's metadata tags on the splash page to identify the website's content. Unfortunatley, this idea fails in reality.
Search engines no longer rely heavily on a website's metadata to determine what the page is about. That's one reason Google and Bing search results have increasingly become more relevant over the years; they are smarter at determining what's on a page rather than accepting metadata on blind faith.
No Hyperlinks, No Indexing. A splash page that has embedded links in the multimedia hurts search engine ranking even more! Search engines rely on hyperlinks to other pages of the website in order to index the entire site (that's one reason why site map pages are still popular today). But if there's no hyperlink to other pages on a site's homepage, search engines will never get to them.
Users Want Information.
The lesson for advisors is this: provide quick access to relevant information for all website visitors. When browsing to an advisor website, the main page should have the most essential content; firm name, address, contact phone numbers and emails, and succinct explanations of target clients and services offered.
If your website still features a splash page to attract the attention of website visitors, seriously consider eliminating the page for the reasons stated above.
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