Advanced Landing Page Techniques: Searcher Personas

There are a million rules for search landing page design. You have to optimize the content and decide whether more stuff is better or worse for conversion. But it’s all moot unless your focus is on getting into the head of your customers. Searcher personas are the tool that delivers clarity as you develop ads […]

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There are a million rules for search landing page design. You have to optimize the content and decide whether more stuff is better or worse for conversion. But it’s all moot unless your focus is on getting into the head of your customers. Searcher personas are the tool that delivers clarity as you develop ads and landing pages.

Personas are different from demographics. Demographics tell you valuable things about ages and income brackets that you may or may not be able to influence on your campaigns. But personas tell you about motivations and behaviors that anyone of any income, ethnicity or age might have. Personas are based on how customers make decisions and what inspires them or drives them away.

Of course your products are aimed at a certain demographic. Most of the people who buy insurance, for example, are one kind of customer while those who buy apps to find the most active bar scene are another.

But do they make decisions based on “gut” feelings or tons of data? Do they grab whatever site is at the top of the Google results or spend a lot of time researching? Do they want content that’s just facts or do they want to feel like they know you a little before they give you their money?

Good questions. Personas can help, and because different PPC ads draw different searcher personas, your landing pages can speak specifically to that persona.

Let’s begin by saying that the last thing you want to do is cast a wide net for every searcher. Consider if someone says of a restaurant: “They serve all kinds of food for everyone.” You’re only likely to eat there if you’re too hungry to actually pick a place that serves Texas barbecue, has a romantic ambience or whatever you’re really looking for.

Or if someone says of a service company “They’re a general handy-man company.” You’re only going to hire them if you’re sure they can do the job, are cheap and can come today. Otherwise, you’ll probably look for a specialist.

Searcher Motivation & The Selection Process

It’s the same with landing pages. Before we do anything we should know who we are speaking to and start by asking, “Why would someone come to my site? What are the motivators?”

Take, for example, a tree-trimming company. Why would people search for this company?

  • Commercial property managers might need pruning to keep trees healthy to protect the investment of property owners as well as protecting against falling trees that could incite insurance claims.
  • Residential customers might hire you to keep their yards tidy, their trees healthy and their kids safe under the branches. But this won’t be just any homeowner. It will be a certain kind of homeowner who is meticulous and attentive to detail. This homeowner will have disposable income enough to maintain the yard.
  • Both kinds of customers might call you when a limb has landed on a car or power line.

Those are the motivators. Now, what about the behaviors?

  • Competitive customers are goal oriented. They know what they’re looking for and they choose it very quickly.
  • Methodical customers are very deliberate and logical. They’ll only call you as a last resort and would rather get all their answers searching online without talking to you.
  • Humanistic customers are the hardest to convert. They focus on relationships and how your offering will make them feel.
  • Spontaneous customers make decisions very quickly. They don’t want to read a lot, they want all their main questions answered on a top-level basis and to then get on with things.

Now in an emergency like the fallen limb, most customers are going to streamline their decision process. They want to know how to contact you, whether you can solve their problem without creating any worse ones and if you can come today.

For those customers, you might want pertinent information above the fold of your landing pages. Information like 24-hour emergency service and the phone number could be at the top.

But what about for the rest of them? Competitive searchers may want to see a page of what other businesses or neighborhoods you’ve worked in. If you’re hired by Chichi Park in the Best Part of Town, that’s enough for them.

Methodicals want to know everything. They want to know if you’re bonded and insured, what your experience and credentials are, who you’ve worked for in the past, whether your rates compare and a lot of other information that they’ll measure against other information.

This landing page serves a spontaneous searcher with an emergency well:

Effective Emergency Tree Trimming Landing Page

This landing page would drive a spontaneous searcher with an emergency crazy. This is probably a waste of a click: Ineffective Emergency Tree Timming Landing Page


For companies that rely on a lot of data or are results-oriented that have charts to show their increased value or documented results, methodical are the dream persona.

For many creative or humanist businesses, methodical are a nightmare customer and you may not want to focus much attention on creating pages of data or content for them.

Creative or humanist businesses focus more on “I’ll show you my personality and how I will care for your needs” and that’s what humanist customers respond to. If you have a humanistic-focused tree care company, it might emphasize environmental stewardship and safety of children.

Spontaneous customers just need the basic information fast without necessarily looking at data or paying any attention to your attempts to connect with them.

But that’s just the beginning of personas. Analytics can give you an inkling what personas are converting in the largest numbers on your site and help you further hone your design and content.

Choose the navigation, design, content, and images you will use based on the searcher personas you’ve decided are key converters and the biggest supporters of your business.

In fact, every part of your website, right down to the kind of action button you choose should focus on your personas.

For more on the four “Modes of Persuastion” I highly recommend the book Waiting for Your Cat to Bark? by Brian and Jeffrey Eisenberg.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Brian Massey
Brian Massey 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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