Landing page optimization is big business for successful PPC campaigns. Google’s weighting of where a paid ad will show and how much each click costs is factored, in part, on the quality of the landing page the ad leads to.
But, on the SEO side of things, you don’t hear a lot about “landing pages.” That’s all stuff for ads, right? PPC has “landing pages,” SEO has “optimized pages,” and they tend to be worlds apart.
But that’s the problem. We shouldn’t think of landing pages and optimized pages as two separate types of pages. Nor should they be two separate “actions” being taken to a page. They should be one.
Landing pages need to be optimized, and optimized pages need to work as solid landing pages. Let’s look at how to merge these two types of pages into one optimized landing page.
What Makes A Good Landing Page?
In order to create a good landing page there are a few basic elements that need to be in play. This isn’t by any means an exhaustive list; however, missing any of these components will undoubtedly cause your landing page to suffer.
- Strong Headline
- Topically Focused Content
- Benefit-Oriented Content
- Scannable Content
- Visual Clarity
What Makes A Good Optimized Page?
The primary focus of search engine optimization is on rankings. That’s not to say good SEO doesn’t include other things. It does… which is the point I’m getting to. But for simplicity, here are some core components of an optimized page.
- Keyword Focused Title
- Well-Written Description
- Keyword Focused Headline
- Keyword Focused Content
- Content with Properly Coded Hierarchy
- Inbound Links
- Socialization Options
Sooooo… What Makes A Good Optimized Landing Page?
The goal of creating an optimized landing page is to create a page that works great for both PPC and SEO purposes. If your organically optimized page isn’t a good landing page for conversions, then you’re throwing away good money. You want just as good a conversion rate for organic traffic as you get for paid traffic.
There are some cases where it makes better sense to deliver PPC traffic to a non-optimized page — one designed specifically for paid traffic. However for most situations, you should be able to drop your paid traffic onto your optimized pages and see a strong result. The key is to make sure that you don’t drop them on a page that has only been optimized for rankings, but on one that has been optimized for conversions. Here is what you need:
Compelling, Keyword Focused Title Tag. The title tag is no small part of an effectively optimized page. It’s probably the most important 8-10 words you’ll write. Your titles need to not only be keyword focused, but compelling enough for the searcher to choose your link over the ten others on the first page. Anybody can throw keywords in a title to get ranked, but it takes craftsmanship to create a title that will get more clicks than the rest. (You can read The Complete Guide to Mastering Your Title Tags to get the full rundown on optimizing title tags.)
Well-Written Description. While the meta description isn’t very important for rankings, it is still a key SEO component, simply due to the fact that it displays in the search results and is a factor in getting the visitor to click into the site. The description of your optimized landing page is a great place to include a strong call-to-action for the searcher. The goal is to be more compelling than the other descriptions on the search results page to assist in generating a click. (The Complete Guide to Mastering Your Meta Tags will tell you everything you need to know about the meta description tag.)
Strong, Keyword-Focused Headline. Since the page headline is the first thing the visitor sees after landing on the page from the search engine, it’s a good idea to maintain the keyword “scent” from the search result to the page. It should be wrapped in an H1 tag for proper optimization and should do much more than state a simple fact. It must give the visitor a reason to stay on the page and continue the engagement. While a small SEO factor, the proper usage of headings and sub-headings can help the search engines determine the topical focus of the page as well as specific content areas. (Read The Complete Guide to Mastering Your Heading Tags for more on how to use heading tags properly throughout the page.)
Topically & Keyword-Focused Content Concentrating On Benefits. The content of your optimized landing page must maintain its focus on the topic and goals to be achieved. Long-winded or meandering content will cause you to lose your visitors. Long isn’t bad, but unneeded excess must be cut. There is a time and place for specifications or talking about what you can do, but the visitor needs to know what’s in it for them, how their lives will be bettered and their goals achieved. Be sure to speak to the visitor outlining the benefits they receive when they take the desired action. While keyword usage usually isn’t a problem, keyword focus often can be. Keep your content focused on a small group of related phrases in order to build up the topical page authority needed to rank.
Scannable Content with Properly Coded Hierarchy. Not everyone is an avid reader. Use as many words as is necessary to achieve your goals, but longer content, however necessary, needs to be easily scannable. Not every piece of information will be essential to every visitor. Giving visitors a way to move quickly to the information that matters most to them will help keep them engaged. Good content hierarchy will help with making the content skimmable and scannable.
Visual Clarity. Cluttered pages create distracted visitors, and distracted visitors don’t complete your intended goals. Keep your pages visually clean and appealing with as few distractions as possible. White space helps, and adjusting things as simple as line, paragraph spacing and image usage can contribute to the overall readability of the content. Keep it nice, clean and tidy.
Inbound links. No optimization campaign is complete without incoming links. There are good links and bad links and really, really bad links. The good links will help drive targeted traffic and give the search engines an idea of your page’s topical relevance before it even has a chance to analyze the page, as well as give an idea of the page’s popularity on the Web. Inbound links are not just a way to get votes (and push up rankings), they are also a source of new traffic.
Socialization Options. Social signals are growing in importance in search algorithms, so it’s important that each optimized page is set up to be socially shared as easily as possible. This allows your visitors to spread the word and drive traffic, doing the heavy lifting for you. The more your visitors engage with your content, the more likely they are to come back and fulfill the intended goals… and bring others with them for the same.
Call-to-Action. Without a call to action, the landing page is useless. Each page has to have a goal and desired action (or set of actions) that you intend the visitor to take. Without a strong call-to-action, the visitor may leave, never having received an appealing reason to take the next step. The only way to get the visitor to the goal is to tell them what they should do next. Be their guide, don’t just drop them on your page to fend for themselves.
Testing. No optimized landing page would be complete without testing. Very rarely does a one-time pass get a page to rank in the number-one spot or get the maximum conversion rate possible. Testing and tweaking each of the above elements of an optimized landing page will allow you to improve the page incrementally, once the bulk-work is done. A good, optimized landing page is always under construction. Test for rankings, test for conversions and keep testing to improve both. The more you test, the more you’ll be able increase both traffic and sales.
Optimizing pages for SEO and creating good landing pages for PPC is smart. Creating an optimized landing page that provides twice the performance with half the effort is smarter. While SEO and PPC provide two unique functions, you don’t always need two pages to do the job, when only one will do… and do it better!
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.