Regardless what tool you use to drive traffic to your site, landing page optimization should be an important step in your process. It all comes down to providing a page of content that searchers were ultimately looking for. Searchers get to your site in many different ways, but you must deliver on promises that prompted them to get them there. So how do you improve your landing pages and test for best results? Let's review tips on improving landing page performance and methods for testing those improvements.
A user's first touch point will be your ad, e-mail, or search listing. Your message here sets an expectation for what the user expects to see when they click on a link that leads them to your landing page. So ask yourself, does your landing page deliver on the promise your ads make? This is one of the main reasons for poor performing campaigns. Searchers finally get to the page they were looking for but the content doesn't match what was promised. By building your landing pages with rich, highly relevant content you find that your campaigns will really deliver a great user experience.
Double check your page titles, heading, and body text and ensure you use keywords that align with user intent. When searchers arrive, they will quickly see signs that they landed on the right page and decide to take the time to look around. If there is content that was promised that isn't on the landing page, make sure you provide clear, visible links to that content. Again, you want to take care to deliver on what was promised.
Is Your Home Page a Good Landing Page?
Because your home page is designed to be a general overview of your company or site, this isn't the most ideal place to bring your visitors...especially visitors looking for something specific. How often have you searched for something, clicked the ad or link, and then ended up on the home page, then had to keep searching within the site for what you were looking for? Not a great experience, was it? So, for each campaign, promotion, or ad, consider having a companion landing page designed that is relevant and specific to each message. It means a little extra work, but it's well worth it.
Call to Action
Remember, your objective is to get people to your site and then persuade them to do something specific. What is the action you want them to take? Do you want them to buy, download, or call? Clearly state the call to action on each landing page. The user should be able to quickly identify what you want them to do. Many landing pages have great content and are relevant but they don't clearly lead their visitors to the next step.
Too Much Information
Each ad in your campaign should have a clear theme or message. But when a visitor arrives at your landing page, are they confronted with too much information? Are you trying too hard to sell them on everything you have to offer? We're all overwhelmed with information-overload, so don't contribute to that by placing too much information on your landing pages. Also, a good call to action is important but don't give searchers too many choices to make. They may get flustered and turn away.
If what you're offering requires multiple decisions to be made, consider leading your visitors down a path one step at a time. What is the primary decision to be made? Getting your visitors to make this first decision should be your main focus. Then use links to other pages to lead them down a path to make more decisions as necessary.
Some landing pages have too much clutter. Too many graphics and text can confuse a user. Furthermore, it can obscure the navigation and make it difficult to know what to do next.
Finally, I've seen landing pages that have forms a mile long. Is this really necessary? Ask yourself, what is the basic information you need to get visitors to convert? Collect only that information. Once they convert, you will have the opportunity to gather more information. You will often find that after a visitor converts, he's more than willing to provide you with more information about himself.
We've gone through several tips that will help you improve your landing pages. Now test each to see if you're really making improvements. Testing is the only way you can know if you're succeeding. Here are a couple of ways to approach your testing efforts.
Most of us are familiar with the A/B testing method. The basic idea is to set up two separate landing pages with only one variable on both pages that's different. Then attempt to drive an equal amount of traffic to each landing page and check the results. As you systematically test variables like color, graphics, text, video, etc. you will find either A or B performs better. Adopt the variable that provides the better performance. Then continue the process to further refine and optimize your landing pages.
This is a more advanced testing method that's kind of like performing multiple A/B tests on a single landing page. Test several variables at the same time and identify the better of the two variations. There are several tools to help you with this testing, but to start with you might want to take a look at the Google Website Optimizer. This is good for testing conversion rate or even which content or creative variations produce the best results.
Armed with these tips and testing methods you should be well on your way to designing and optimizing your landing pages for better performance. To learn more, I would refer you to my friend and colleague Tim Ash who is the world's expert on landing page design and optimization. Additionally, you might want to check out his book on the subject.
Ron was president/CEO of Symetri Internet Marketing, which provides strategic SEM consulting and training. Ron was actively involved in the SEM community and spoke and trained at conferences and seminars. Ron also served on the Board of Directors for SEMPO and was one of the authors for the SEMPO Institute Fundamentals and Advanced courses.
Ron also published a book called Keyword Intelligence: Keyword Research for Search Social and Beyond. This book outlines various methods and tips for conducting keyword research but more importantly outlines many ways to use keyword research for social media, site design, content development and marketing, and even traditional marketing and branding.
Ron passed away on June 30, 2012.
June 20, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT