Most marketers want to get the most out of both organic and paid search. Existing sites are getting more attention as marketers make sites search-engine-friendly (or even search-engine-maximized) as well as user-friendly. Any search engine marketer can tell you SEO (define) requires compromise in areas such as layout and copy length, style, and flow.
Yet, marketers recognize such a compromise can result in a great experience for spiders and users alike. After taking into account a site’s search-engine-friendliness and adapting copy and design, you may have made compromises in user-friendliness and conversion. These compromises may yield thousands of new, targeted visitors to your site. The navigational structure helps both search engine spiders and human visitors understand the breadth of your site’s offerings. A bit of conversion loss as part of SEO efforts is generally OK.
Paid search marketing campaigns provide something SEO doesn’t: complete user experience control. When you pay for clicks, your ability to afford high positions is directly related to your ability to meet marketing objectives with each and every inbound clickstream. Those objectives usually include a basket of conversion behaviors, including lead generation, purchase, and site immersion (to indicate early-stage, research-related buying behavior). The least desirable behavior is clicking the back button.
Pay-per-click (PPC) search’s control is a gift. By not exercising that control, you hand it to your competition. Below, 10 reasons your existing Web site may be completely wrong for your PPC search landing pages:
- Call to action. Landing pages for visitors with specific needs (as articulated by their search queries) require specific calls to action. Regular site pages don’t carry strong call-to-action messages because they aren’t appropriate for general visitors.
- Copy. Regular site pages have more copy than you want to show paid search visitors. You need a tight correlation between the specific search and the landing page copy to engage potential customer.
- Navigation. Regular site pages generally have full-site navigation, which can distract paid search visitors. Less is often more when it comes to navigational clutter. You already know exactly what every paid search visitor seeks; additional navigation can distract the visitor from your message and her mission.
- Animation. Flash, illustrations, and other animation are a significant part of the user experience for paid search visitors. These elements aren’t present on your general site.
- Personalization. You know more about paid search visitors. Personalize their experience! Many automated personalization engines and methods don’t play well with search engine spiders and may be disabled as part of organic SEO efforts. In paid search, personalization takes on a whole new meaning, including treating returning customers differently from new prospects.
- Merchandising. A retail store is merchandised based on geography, neighborhood, and season. Route paid search traffic to pages designed to take advantage of different merchandising.
- Offer testing. It’s much easier to test an offer when you know what makes the traffic unique. You need a control to test, and paid search provides it.
- Microsites. Sometimes you need an entirely new look, structure, and flow for paid search visitors. A microsite is your best route.
- Domain name. If you don’t have a branded domain, a new keyword-packed domain coupled with a microsite may provide far better impression-to-click conversion at the ad level. Particularly in Google, this results in a higher AdRank and more efficiency. When you don’t have a brand, a descriptive URL may more readily catch searchers’ attention.
- Ambiguity. Some keywords fit your target market but not your landing pages. A new landing page, separate from your current site, can help test, improve efficiency, and offer new opportunities.
If you didn’t set aside a separate budget or additional internal resources to take your site beyond what’s necessary for organic SEO, look closer and imagine the characteristics of the perfect landing page for each power keyword in your campaign. If those landing pages don’t exist, create them.
Want more search information? ClickZ SEM Archives contain all our search columns, organized by topic.
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