June 19, 2014 | Sarah Danks
Per usual, my post idea today was spawned from an article I ran across in our Twitter feed. In this little conversation-starter, 9 Simple Landing Page Tweaks to Increase Your Conversion Rate, the premise is, obviously, ways to get your landing pages to convert more visitors. But, because of a few of the items in the article, I got to thinking: which KIND of landing page is the author talking about?
Let me back up a second.
What IS a landing page, anyway?
There are basically two definitions of the term “landing page:”
- The generic definition: any website page that a visitor lands upon (regardless of how s/he got there: from a SERP, from a link on the site itself, etc.)
- The paid search definition (I love the one from Unbounce): “a standalone web page distinct from your main website that has been designed for a single focused objective.“
Of course, since we here at ThinkSEM are search marketers (not just SEOs), my natural inclination when I see the term “landing page” is to equate it to a paid search campaign. But the way this author is talking about landing pages in the article, my thought is he’s talking about them in the basic sense of the term.
Why do I think that? Well, let me tell you.
Optimize a Landing Page for SEO? Nope.
For starters, with a PPC/paid search landing page, you’d never optimize for search. What would be the point? The only way the landing page is accessible to any traffic is via a paid click — if, IF, for some reason the page were ever to get indexed (which is a possibility), it’d never actually have a chance at showing up in an organic search, since it’s a standalone page (i.e., it’s not linked to from the company website, or anywhere else).
So, if you were to optimize a landing page, you’d be wasting time and resources, because a standalone page has little to NO chance of being found organically.
When you optimize a website page, you write descriptions of what that page is, company services/offerings, information a visitor needs, etc., but you’re also writing for search engines. “Here, this is what this page is about, we’d like to show up organically for THIS relevant keyword.” No point for that on a PPC landing page, since the traffic is paid for.
The only traffic coming in comes directly from an ad. Visitors don’t need to read a bunch of copy outlining company background, what the offering is; they already know that because they clicked on an ad — an ad written specifically to get the click in the first place. Now that the visitor is on the landing page, they’re ready to be sold to. Now. As in, “show me what to do next, I’m ready to take the next step.”
Should Each Landing Page Include 250 Words of Copy? Um. No.
Piggy-backing off not optimizing landing pages, I have to chuckle at this weird recommendation. First of all, 250 words on a page is an arbitrary number. Secondly, on a landing page you need to be very succinct (but still outline the benefits to all the listeners of WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?)). Does this require every landing page contain exactly 250 words? Absolutely not. Depends on what your offering is. Depends on what the point of the page is.
The amount of copy you write depends on so many things — in fact, I’m going to go ahead and say even if you’re optimizing a website page for SEO, don’t adhere to this silly suggestion. Write as much content as you need to in order to get the job done. Please, please don’t adhere to this antiquated “rule of thumb.”
Include Social Media on Landing Pages? Please Don’t.
Again, going back to the definition of a landing page: it has been designed for a specific purpose. If it’s like 99.9% of paid search landing pages, its goal is conversion. Whether the conversion is a visitor filling out a form (lead generation), downloading an infographic, watching a video, or what have you, there’s a specific ACTION the landing page needs to get each visitor to perform.
I’m going to go ahead and guess that most companies aren’t going to spend a lot of money on paid campaigns solely to get people to Like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter or give them +1 on their Google+ posts.
Hence, no need to put all of your social media venue buttons on your landing page. As Oli Gardner so eloquently points out in his brutally honest landing page critiques,
“Remove the social share buttons. Nobody cares about you at this point and they’re not going to share your page out of pure altruistic desire. It’s a lead gen page, so stick the social shares buttons on the confirmation page and ask them to share after they’ve filled out the form.”
“Ditch the social share buttons immediately. They serve zero purpose at this point…”
“Said it before, say it again. Remove the social share buttons. Nobody gives a shit.“
Now, all that being said, I do believe one aspect of “social proof” can be included — if it fits on the landing page — and that’s a relevant testimonial/review. However, I’d stay away from social share buttons — put those on your website; not your landing pages.
Don’t think I’m trying to tear this article apart — because I do agree with the other suggestions to get landing pages to convert:
- I think click-worthy titles/headlines are extremely important.
- No paid search landing page should ever contain navigation back to the website. Don’t do it — why would you offer a visitor the chance to click away from the landing page and NOT convert? WHY?
- Using consistent messaging is paramount to a paid search campaign’s success.
- Design plays an important role on a landing page — not just the colors used but also the layout and strategic use of white space.
- Forms are ever-important and we know we need them; it’s always important to only ask for the information you really need from each visitor. Sometimes long forms might work, but I’d say keeping it short and sweet will work better. That being said, testing is always something we suggest (for any aspect of landing pages).
- Ensuring your landing pages are responsive is a MUST these days. Designs definitely need to cater to everyone and any device.
In Summary: Don’t Optimize a Landing Page…
…for search engine optimization. Most of those suggestions on how to create landing pages that convert better are great. That being said, there’s never any reason to optimize your PPC landing pages for organic search, or to include social share buttons on a landing page.
And, for the love of chocolate cake, don’t EVER think you should write exactly 250 words anywhere.
That all being said, “optimizing” can also have various meanings. A/B and/or multivariate testing is optimization. Conversion rate optimization IS definitely something you should do on all your paid search landing pages. But don’t get confused and think that “landing page optimization” equates to trying to bring in traffic organically.