The Value Proposition Test: What Is Your Page’s Caption?

There is nothing more important to your search success than your value proposition.

Go ahead. Click away. I know you probably don’t spend much of your time on such things. It’s all keywords and copy, copy and keywords.

Yet, keywords and ad copy only get you so far. For your visitors, these answer the question, why am I here?

The value proposition answers the next question, why should I stay?

In the context of a webpage, your value proposition will be effective if it has the following characteristics:

1. Easy to grasp

2. Relevant

3. Clearly presented

I sometimes call this the page proposition.

For search traffic, you have some flexibility. Your page proposition doesn’t have to be the same as the value proposition of your business, unless you’re sending searchers to your home page (those poor visitors).

Instead, think of your destination pages as an arresting picture, like those you find in a National Geographic magazine. The picture captures the eye, and the caption tells you what the point of the photo is.

Likewise, your search ad captures the imagination of the searcher who sees an answer to their problem.

What, then, is the caption of your page?

If you don’t provide one, your visitors will create one, and it may not be the page proposition you would want to communicate.

I’ve written the captions for several pages taken from random searches. I chose some expensive keywords assuming that these would be among the best at communicating a page proposition.

Once you’ve perused mine, you should be able to write a caption for your landing pages.

You should do so with a sense of humor.

One note: these pages are clipped at the fold on purpose, because people can’t process what they can’t see.

Search: [Solar Panels]


Call a pretty girl, or choose from solar panels for homes and boats. We’ll install them. And a frog.

I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out the frog for some reason. The image for the “Commercial” category looks like a house. Such a simple choice essentially changes the value proposition of this page at first glance. The caption “Commercial” may save the day.

I wonder if, like ad blindness, visitors have begun to get headset blindness.

Search: [Womens Shoes]


Shoes! New York Party Shoes. And you don’t have to worry about shipping.

Pretty straight-forward. The fact that their navigation bar is hard to read probably works for them in this context. It almost disappears, which is usually a good thing for landing pages.


Women’s Shoes, and some are on clearance. Shipping is free, and you don’t have to pay for returns, even on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I clicked on Zappos because they have a fantastic value proposition. However, it’s not well communicated here.

Free shipping and free returns 365-days a year is different from Free shipping and free returns for 365 days after purchase, which is what their return policy is. There is really little else remarkable about their page proposition.

Search: [HR Management]


Get started now doing tedious work in lab coats. HCM: You may not know what it is, but you need ours.

Business-to-business pages are the most fun to review because they make such easy targets. At least they state what they do in something like English in the upper right. What you do is very different from what your value is, however.

Home Pages


“pread the joy! ive soft velour” Oh, and we don’t test in Chrome browsers.

This overlay box is ill-conceived. And how can I get 20% off FREE shipping? Oh. Never mind.


The easiest way to accept payments. Get Started. ‘Nuff Said.

When the visitor can actually use your product online, shut up and get them started.

Search: [Attorney]



Our attorneys are very serious. People don’t put the right information in our blank. Highly rated attorneys look like their clients’ mug shots.

LegalMatch is paying as much as $47 for these clicks. They don’t have any testing software on the page, so I bet it could be improved.

Search: [Loans]


Loan Nirvana! 60 Seconds to apply, answers in minutes and their credit loans are bad.  And what is this girl looking at?!

This page gets my award for best use of stock photography. It just screams Scroll! If this value proposition passes the “too good to be true” test, it probably performs very well.

Search: [Laptop Batteries]


Our laptop batteries make people cheer. Shipping. It’s all about shipping. We like to say “Laptop Batteries” a lot.

 This page gets my award for worst use of stock photography, complete with headset wearing girl. But, if shipping is their differentiator, it is clear from this page.

Search: [Insurance]


Auto insurance. Great Service. Great Coverage. Great Price. We want you to call us.

Most of the insurance sites lead us to landing pages that are to the point. Amica thinks pretty highly of themselves. The call to action is clear and apparently the Twitter likes them, too.


Pay no attention to the asterisk. Start Saving.

Asterisks. They just scream that you’re not going to get this. And why “Double-check?” When was the first “check?”

Search: [Lose Weight]


Medical Weight Loss. You should call because we are very excited. Oh, and there are lots of forms to fill out.

Anything you put below an image is very likely to get read. These folks chose to talk about their forms. And exclamation points do not lend your copy credibility or immediacy, not even three of them.


Lose weight and reduce global warming or feed a starving child or something “good.” We’re so good that we can use a real person on our page. And you will be insured against experts, whatever that means.

This got honorable mention for using a real person on the page. Very rare. Very believable.


We look like a magazine, don’t we? You better act now to get some Raspberry Ketone. There’s a rush on the stuff. And Dr. Oz recommends it.

They labeled this an “Advertorial.” Thank goodness it’s not an advertisement… is it? Nonetheless, I think that this page’s caption is right on. Cialdini would be proud. The two most visible things on the page scream “authority” and the headline is blunt-force scarcity. I wonder if the deadline changes every day…


Ironically, their home page reveals that they are an organization called Health Caption.

Their pages better have a good caption if that’s their name.

Search: [Value Proposition]

Well, no one is advertising on this keyword, so we’ll just summarize what we’ve learned from our examples.

  1. The search ad actually establishes the value proposition. Deliver what was in the ad.
  2. Images are very effective at communicating value propositions. Bad images are good at communicating the wrong thing. Use them to draw attention to your call-to-action or to make your value proposition believable.
  3. The copy below any image will get read. Make the most of it.
  4. Ancillary content can destroy your value proposition. Something as simple as an asterisk can be devastating. Keep it simple.
  5. Pick one thing. Just as focused on shipping, you can win if you pick an audience and nail the message to them.
  6. If you must serve many visitors with your page, you have two options: admit that you’re doing it wrong, or use space to help the visitor choose. gives visitors three ways to search for lawyers, but give up clarity in the process.
  7. Use landing pages, not home pages. Exception: Your visitor can use your product online, like
  8. Don’t let technical snafus get you.

Your landing page and home page communicate their value at a glance. Does it match your intended value proposition? If so, the right search visitors will stick around and convert.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Analytics | Search & Conversion


About The Author: is the Conversion Scientist at Conversion Sciences and author of Your Customer Creation Equation: Unexpected Website Forumulas of The Conversion Scientist. Follow Brian at The Conversion Scientist blog and on Twitter @bmassey

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  • Elliot Dean

    Very humorous but also insightful look at making sure a web page gets its message across to visitors. Was a good chuckle and a note to self to take a look at my clients sites now!!! And I’M serious because I used 3 exclamation points.

  • robthespy

    Home run, Brian!

    I’ve often found that you can follow guidelines and best practices, but you have to test because you never know what’s going to work well.

  • Brian Massey

    Thanks, Elliot. I can just FEEL your excitement!!!

  • Brian Massey

    If you’re going to test, you should test the right things. A common sense check is a good way to get something testable. Thanks for the comment.

  • brianscoop

    I’m always telling clients, “every page should have a job,” and “every page should tell a visitor what to do next.” This post is makes this point so seem so simple, clear, and obvious, with excellent examples. And it’s a fun read. One of my top posts for 2012 (you just made it in!) Thanks.

  • Brian Massey

    Brianscoop, I am honored to be included in your top posts. Thanks and Happy New Year.

  • Matt Lambert

    Wonderful article, great examples of how busy people form impressions. Part of the job of all pages is to give the right instant impression. I must write that down.

  • treepodia

    People say “amazing article” a lot, like they mean it. Well, this one actually deserves it. Standing applause, you have managed to amuse and educate. That’s what it’s about. These are some easy-to-forget basics. Thanks!

  • Brian Massey

    Much thanks for the kind words.

  • Brian Massey

    Even after some thoughtful inspection, these impressions are the same.


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