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Optimizing Your Landing Page For Optimum Results

The Landing page is one of the major factors that Google considers when determining quality score. Having a high quality landing page that is highly relevant to the keywords you’re bidding on and ads that point to them can lower your CPC, improve your conversions and increase your quality score.

Landing pages are also important because they play a significant role in determining whether a searcher who clicks your ad converts and becomes an actual customer, and how successful your ads will be.

If you have a great click through rate but poor conversion rate, it means there is a disconnect between what you are promising in your ad, and what you are actually offering on your landing page. Bottom line is, without a great landing page that is relevant to your ad, your conversion rate is likely to suffer.

What Is A Landing Page?

A landing page is the first page a searcher goes to after clicking on your ad. Google requires this page should be the same page for all ads in the same ad group. A landing page is very rarely the home page. The best landing page is the most relevant page that continues the conversation started by your ad. It should directly answer the searcher’s question, and cater to exactly what the ad promises. In order to increase the likelihood of conversions on your site, it is extremely important that your landing page is an extension of your ad copy.

The headline, copy, images, multimedia, contact info, design, logo, loading speed, etc. all combine to create an instant impression on the visitor that is taken to your landing page. The most important keywords in your ad group and ad should be prominently displayed on your landing page so that a searcher who clicks on your ad sees your landing page as an extension of the ad.

Since your ad copy informed the searcher about what they would find if they click on your ad, the landing page should continue the conversation by assisting them to find their answer, build an instant emotional bond with the searcher, and demonstrate that you fully understand their needs, wants and challenges. It could be a page built specifically for your ad campaign, but it should be the page within your website that is most relevant and logically connected to the original search query.

For example if someone does a search for “Panasonic digital camera,” and clicks on an Amazon ad, they would not want or even expect to be taken to Amazon’s home page. The searcher would expect to be taken to a page that showcases different Panasonic digital cameras within Amazon’s website.

The user is not interested in hunting around on your website looking for what you stated that they would find if they click your ad. Your home page is not relevant to them. If sent to the right page, the searcher will spend less time trying to find the information and more time engaged with the information they expect to find on your landing page.

In addition, a good landing page has good navigation links that would allow the user to effectively traverse the site and find other items on your site that they might be interested in or to read more about you to get comfortable before they make a purchase. Thus, taking the extra time to link your keywords or ad groups with the most specific and relevant page on your website will eventually lead to higher conversion rates.

In order to continue meeting the searcher’s expectations, it is essential that your landing page be very much an extension of your ad copy. The landing page should be explicitly relevant to, and include the target keywords in your ad group and the ad that the searcher clicked on. Furthermore, it should revolve around one very specific topic – the ad group’s theme. For example, if you have an ad for black suede shoes for men, you would not want to send the user to a page that also features black suede shoes for women or children.

Those are not relevant to what the searcher is looking for. The searcher is looking to buy black suede shoes for men “right now”. That is what they are expecting to see on the landing page to which they are taken to, and your landing page should be designed to sell them black suede shoes without distractions. If the visitor is interested in checking out what else you have, the navigation on your site should allow him to traverse the site.

The page should clearly show the searcher the answer to their question or instructions on how to get the answer to their question. If you are running an e-commerce site, the answer is contained in the product someone will receive once they’ve checked out through your shopping cart.

Landing pages are the most important part of the equation. Most searchers that land on your landing page will only spend a few seconds looking at your landing page before deciding to continue interacting with your website, or to hit the Back button – a bounce. It is the job of your landing page to make the sale. This is why the landing page is so critical to your AdWords success. A poor landing page leads to wasted advertising dollars due to the searcher leaving your site within seconds of arriving. It also leads to poor quality scores and consequently, higher CPC rates.

Landing Page Considerations And Guidelines

Excellent landing pages can help you achieve very high conversions and quality scores. A poor quality landing page will lead to poor quality scores for the keywords in the ad group related to that landing page. A high click through rate but low conversion rate likely means your landing page is not a good representation of your ad’s offer or needs to be improved.

Google has developed landing page guidelines for AdWords based on giving the searcher the best possible experience after they click the ad that will take them to your website. In fact, most of these guidelines actually help with conversions and your website’s usability. By following these guidelines, you can make your page relevant for the searcher and effectively improve your quality scores.

Spiderability

The first step to creating a relevant landing page is making sure that Google’s web crawlers can read the content on your page in order to ascertain if your landing page is relevant to a particular search or not. Google uses two different robots to spider your site for AdWords:

  1. Adsbot-Google
  2. Googlebot

Even if you disallow all robots from crawling a page whether through your robots.txt file or in your meta robots tag, Adsbot-Google will ignore your instructions. This only makes sense. Google will need to inspect the landing page that searchers will be taken to verify the claims you have made in your ad. However, there are times when Googlebot may index your site instead of Adsbot-Google. If you block Googlebot in your robots.txt file, then Adsbot-Google will crawl your site so your account can be assigned quality scores. If Googlebot has recently visited your site, Adsbot-Google may ignore your website as AdWords will use the information from the Googlebot crawl to determine your quality scores. If your landing page is not spiderable, your ad will not be approved.

Focused

Your landing page should keep people focused on the specific action you want them to take. Don’t distract them or dillute the page by sending them to a page cluttered with offers, or confuse them by providing multiple actions for the searcher to choose from. If you want the searcher to sign up to your newsletter, then that should be the only action they should need to take.

One effective strategy adopted by successful PPC managers is to include the navigation links in the footer of the page so that the user will have to scroll down to the bottom of the page if they want to navigate away from the page. With this setup, the user will either have to take the specific action you want them to take, or leave the page. It might be considered a risky strategy, but there is a strong likelihood that those people who do complete the action are really interested in your offer.

If you do adopt this strategy, make sure there are various ways for the user to contact you such as an “Ask a Question” form in case they have a question. Your forms should be brief and only require users to complete the most essential information. Note that each additional form field you add reduces the likelihood of the form being actually completed.

Include a phone number and/or email address, and if you have a form, make sure everything (including the form) is above the fold so the user doesn’t need to scroll down to find your contact info.

Title Tag Of Landing Page

The title of the landing page should tell Google and the visitor what the page is all about. Use it to show Google the connection between your keywords, your ad and your landing page by including the core keywords in your ad group. If your landing page has a nondescriptive title, like “Page 3” or “Welcome to afrogreetings.com,” Google will penalize you for sending traffic to a non-relevant page.

Relevance

The destination URL of your ad should lead the searcher to a page on your website that directly answers the searcher’s question or shows them how to receive their answer. Although you do not have to have the exact keywords in your ad group on the landing page, you should at least have your core keywords on the landing page with exactly the same theme.

The page needs to be “explicitly related” to the ad. If your ad advertises plasma TVs, then the user should be sent to a landing page that showcases different plasma TVs for sale. The user should not be sent to a plasma TV review site because that will not be relevant to your ad, and reviews are not what the user is searching for, right now. Google is checking the quality of your landing pages, and the more relevant your landing page is to your ad and keywords, the higher the quality score your account will achieve.

If you are unsure what Google thinks your page is about, use the AdWords Keyword Planner tool to allow Google to crawl your site and examine the keywords. If the keywords are similar to the keywords in your ad group and what you think the page is about, then your page will meet the relevancy guidelines.

Engaging Content

Make the content engaging — consider including video, audio, images, or dynamic elements along with highly relevant text. If your landing page is a lead generation form, provide lots of information to the user in exchange for their contact details – which should be no more than an email address at this stage. Give the user various options such as video, downloadable information, fact sheets, testimonials, business affiliations, guarantees, awards, certifications, and other elements that serve to reinforce your credibility. Be sure to include a phone number on the page even if you have other means of communication such as a form. In addition, add time-sensitive offers to add a sense of urgency to your page.

Unique And Original Content

It is imperative to provide original content that is unique to your website on your landing pages. Providing original content helps to differentiate your business from the competition and other sites by offering something completely unique to visitors to your site. If the content on your site is available on other sites on the internet, it will drag down your quality score.

If you have a site that utilizes manufacturer descriptions in your content, you can run into problems with this guideline. If your site contains product descriptions and the same retail price that is available on a hundred sites on the internet, then the page doesn’t provide much value, and your quality scores will be very poor, no matter how great your landing page looks.

Even worse is a page with no content that just has links to other sites. You’ll need to write some original content for your top-selling products to help increase the originality of your website. This same concept holds true for affiliates. If you are an affiliate, your landing page should contain unique and relevant content that will make the page stand out from the manufacturer’s site and adds value to the user experience.

Transparency

Transparency is one of the most important factors in building trust and re-inforcing your credibility with your visitors. In addition, being transparent with your offers and business information by having privacy policies and terms and conditions clearly displayed on your site goes a long way toward meeting Google’s editorial guidelines, particularly if you collect personal information such as email addresses, credit cards or phone numbers. Ultimately, you want to make your visitors feel safe and confident.

Note that if you offer a special deal in your ad copy, such as free shipping, discounts, or a third-party authorization, Google’s guidelines require that any such deals be found within no more than 1 – 2 clicks after arriving at your site. In addition, your landing page should be free of malware, adware, popunders, popovers or any type of software that tries to alter the searcher’s browser settings, disable the Back button, or attempt to auto-install software on the visitor’s computer. Note that if your landing page does not meets Google’s quality guidelines, it will be given a status of “not applicable”. In this case, you’ll have to fix any problems with your landing page before Google will send you traffic.

Navigability

Navigation effectively refers to the usability of your website and how well the searcher can navigate, find information and accomplish goals on your site. Your visitors should not have to work in finding their way around your site. In addition, navigation is a factor in determining landing page quality. Your landing page does not have to have your typical full navigation; however, if the consumer does not find what they are looking for on your landing page, or if they want to learn more about your company, offers, etc., Google requires that they should be able to use your navigation to easily find that information on your website.

Have clear menus and make sure that your pages load quickly. Use things like buttons and clear form elements to guide the user through your conversion funnels to avoid frustrating your customers.

Generally, if you have the following links on your landing page, you will meet Google’s navigational requirements:

  1. Home page
  2. About us page
  3. Contact us page
  4. More about the product or service
  5. Privacy policy

Your landing page should be completely free of pop-ups, pop-unders and other windows as they often result in disapproved ads or low landing page quality scores`. Although landing page quality is generally considered to have less weighting in the quality score formula compared to some of the other factors such a CTR, a low landing page quality score can hurt your quality score more than any other factor, and may result in your ad not even showing.

Landing pages are the key last step in your campaigns and the key first step in your visitors experience with you. It is essential that they are relevant, useful and convincing so that you can convert more of your clicks into conversions, and you can improve your quality scores. Bear in mind that once your landing page has been deemed relevant by Google, there is no need to keep changing your landing page for quality score reasons. In addition, there is no need to test landing pages in attempts to increase your quality score.

Mobile Landing Pages

The exponential growth of mobile means it is increasingly essential that your landing page is optimized for mobile users. In addition to the points raised above, there are a number of implementations you can carry out on your landing page to make sure that smartphone users can effectively take action on it.

Bear the following points in mind when optimizing your page for mobile:

  • Avoid Flash as much as possible. You should avoid using Flash on your landing page as most smartphone users may not be able to see your message. If mobile users cannot see the content of your landing page, AdWords will not run your ads for mobile users and you will be missing out on potential customers.
  • Your navigation should be very simple and uncluttered. Reduce the amount of text on the page, and use bullet points where possible. Keep any forms you have on the page as short as possible, and reduce the number of form fields you have. Compress your images so that they load faster, and keep the number of steps required to complete a transaction or sign up for information to a bare minimum. Be sure to use click to call functionality for any phone numbers. If possible, include maps, store addresses, and directions through GPS if you’re a local business.

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