freejung - 5:26 pm on Mar 6, 2011 (gmt 0)
To elaborate on the above post:
This issue of the overall impression of the page as a landing page is something I've been working on for my site recently, as it was a common criticism from testers. I've made several changes over the past year or so that are designed to make it more immediately obvious that the searcher is in the right place: I changed the color scheme to look more like other sites in the genre, I made titles stand out more, and I put several graphical elements above the fold that make it more visually clear what the site is about. I gained traffic in this update, so perhaps my efforts have paid off.
Because it's something I've been thinking about, I noticed that most of these sites that lost traffic seem to have problems in this area. For example, one of them is an art site, optimized for art-related keywords -- but most of the pages have few or no actual artistic images above the fold. If I'm looking for art and I land on a page that's almost all text, with maybe one tiny image above the fold, I'm going to look elsewhere. I don't want text, I want art! I bet if that site were to put one or two large relevant images at the top of each page, it would do just fine.
I'm thinking this has more to do with visual design and overall look than anything else. If you've lost in this update, maybe consider hiring a top-notch graphic/layout designer.