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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
  • Call-to-Action
  • Testing

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
  • Testing

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.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Paid Search Column | Search Marketing: Landing Pages | SEO: Titles & Descriptions | SEO: Writing & Body Copy

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About The Author: is president of Pole Position Marketing, a leading online marketing strategy company established in 1998 and currently based in Canton, Ohio.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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  • Alex Miller

    Couldn’t agree more. There’s no reason one page can’t serve both functions.

  • http://www.eBizROI.com Rick Noel, eBiz ROI, Inc.

    Excellent perspective on landing page optimization and agree with your points which are all solid. Well written post to say the least. It is great if/when you can do both and should be the goal for each landing page.

    That said, in certain circumstances, in my view, trying to do both well can be like trying to race an on/off road motorcycle against motor cross and/or road racing motorcycles in their native racing environments.

    The dual purpose motorcycle has broad applicability but falls short when compared to their specialized counterpart. For landing pages trying to rank for competitive keywords sometimes trying to do both can impact quality score or organic rank (IMHO).

    Thanks for sharing.

  • TwilightNewsSite

    From Google:

    “Keyword stuffing” refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. Often these keywords appear in a list or group, or out of context (not as natural prose). Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking. Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.

    https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66358

  • David Caron

    This is a very interesting point of view. I guess as SEO and SEM goes we need to always focus on what is best for the user. We when thinking of SEO in terms of the landing page optimization, it really does make perfect sense. Thanks for making it so clear!

  • Arpita Arora

    Extremely thoughtful article! The concept of optimizing landing pages to solve dual purpose of PPC and SEO makes perfect sense. I feel we can definitely boost our conversions if we follow this for each landing page.
    Thanks for sharing

  • http://www.spinxdigital.com/ Stephen Moyers

    Thanks for providing clear insights about landing page optimization. Call to actions buttons are always plays vital role and need to use it very wisely to drive more visitors to desired goal. Also, A/B testing is useful for deciding which landing page can generate more clicks and revenue.

    Stephen.

  • Stoney deGeyter

    Rick, I agree there are always circumstances and situations where having a separate page is the best solution, and I don’t want to in any way take away from that fact. But for the most part, I think these two can be a singular page that serves both exceptionally well.

    Thanks everyone else for the thoughtful discussion. I hope you can use these concepts to better your SEO/SEM Campaigns. Twilight… Not sure what you’re getting at there.

  • Mike Ng

    Concise and to the point… The article got to and led the reader… Much like a landing page should do… Lead us.

  • Jayne Reddyhoff

    I must admit, I thought “pretty obvious concept; very well explained”. However some of the comments indicate that the concept is not as obvious as I mistakenly believed.

    I think that the tendency in some agencies to silo AdWords and SEO has a lot to answer for.

    Thanks for such a clear explanation. I shall definitely be quoting from it.

  • Mac McDougal

    Your definition of “scannable content” as “content [that] needs to be easily scannable” is a tautology, yes? You seem to say it must be brief, written in the AP style (with the whole story in the first paragraph), and written for non-readers. Do you want to try again?

  • Stoney deGeyter

    Brief, AP style isn’t necessarily the way to make content scannable. More to my point is that the reader needs to be able to digest main points and then know what the next action should be without having to read every word.

  • Hollywood Inc

    I agree with the concept, but IMO execution can be an issue. The best high converting LP is a scaled down orphan page, where’as an SEO page is content heavy, and thus lower converting.

    Add more content and your SEO traffic will improve, but conv rate will likely drop. Reverse this balance and you’ll have the opposite effect, higher conv rate, at lower traffic.

    And with the new “above the fold” content algorithm update, you’re not going to be able stuff optimized content below the nice LP call to actions/images, etc and get the best of both worlds.

    I do agree that SEO content pages should have the important LP elements (call to action, clear titles, etc), but to expect a high ranking (content heavy) SEO page to perform like a paired down orphan LP….we’ll i’d like to see the analytics on that one :)

  • Stephen Olson

    I agree that landing pages should be optimized and that site pages should be thought of as landing pages but I do not agree that a site page should do double duty as a campaign landing page. This would dilute the data for determining the effectiveness of the campaign.

  • Spook SEO

    Although there’s a lot to consider when optimizing a landing page, I think the most important thing to remember when increasing a landing page’s conversion rate is to have it focus on 1 goal only and removing anything that’s going to distract the visitors from that goal.

    That way, they won’t have to choose and ultimately just stick to what you optimized your page for.

  • http://www.damolade.com/ Danielle Iemola-Devereux

    On-Page is the one place we control all the elements, makes sense to have it perfect before we do any seo or ppc

  • Nina

    This is a great article, but I really think it depends on the content/website/product when it comes to using LP’s for both SEO and PPC. The last website I worked on, there was absolutely no way that the SEO and PPC LP’s could serve the same purpose – SEO content needed to be heavier and very informative, whereas the PPC pages need to be sale oriented (and we tested this – i.e. we used them as one in the same, and created separate pages, and the latter definitely won out in terms of conversion for both channels). The industry I am in now, however, the SEO and PPC LP’s can definitely be one in the same – in fact, it’s beneficial to the site (in what I’ve seen). So while this is great, I think it’s a case by case basis on whether or not it will work. Like everything in SEM, test, test and test again!

  • Stoney deGeyter

    I agree completely. So maybe saying “everytime” was more of an attention grabber. It really does come down to testing and what works for a particular site.

  • http://www.timbarlow.net/ Tim Barlow

    Echoing some of the previous comments it is not uncommon for a need for two different landing pages. Wherever a query could have research or buyer intent, Google is getting better and better at forcing the buyer to click on an advert whilst working to rank less commercial pages in the organic listings

  • Tintan Taylor

    Couldn’t agree more.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/chrissanfilippo Chris Sanfilippo

    Spook, you are everywhere…

  • http://www.branddigi.com/ Ravi Janardhan

    Awesome post Stoney!

    While idea of separate landing pages with a clear CTA makes a lot of sense, there are many brands for which their super optimized web pages just do the job.

    Marketers have to be discreet while considering what is best for them in the given context. Thanks.

 

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