The other day I did an interview with a publication about using landing pages. The interviewer asked me when businesses should use landing pages. It was a great question so I thought I would share my answer with you here too.
By general definition, a “landing page” is any web page that receives visitors (e.g. an entry page.) So, in essence, you could use any web page in your website as a landing page for paid search. One of the most important factors though with identifying a good landing page is its relevance to the visitor in context with the purpose of their visit.
Many e-commerce websites use their product pages as good landing pages for specific product-relevant keywords. For example, sending a visitor to a “pink ipod nano” product page after the visitor searched on the keyword “pink ipod nano” and clicked through an equally relevant and communicated ad makes sense. In this scenario, using a landing page is a no-brainer. The basic goal is to create higher relevance for a visitor within the context of their intentions as sometimes identifiable by their keyword usage.
Cool – pretty straight-forward.
However, my company spends 75% of our time “converting” search engine marketing, not just setting up and managing it. Website conversion is what adds business value, not generating traffic. So, what happens when a product page (using the e-commerce example again) converts well for natural search traffic but terrible for paid search visitors?
Different visitor segments DO convert differently for varying reasons including usage behaviors of paid versus natural search. What do you do in this case? You create “strategic landing ages.”
A strategic landing page is developed separate from your website and may even contain a “no-follow” script so search index won’t index it. It provides a testing platform to optimize your paid search conversion while not affecting the current performance of your product page in converting natural search.
By using a strategic landing page, you can test, using an application like Google’s website optimizer various elements including headlines, product images, pricing, call-to-actions and so forth. You can also filter through visitor intentions by offering call-to-actions different than “buy now” that could include informational downloads or how-to videos that are often consumed prior to a purchasing decision. In any case, strategic landing pages enable you to test precise keywords, segmented off from other channels and without affecting the overall performance of your other visitor channels.
I don’t recommend having a huge number of strategic landing pages because of the management chaos it could create. However, identify PPC keywords with high volume and high cost that are performing poorly. Segment them off and develop strategic landing pages for them. Add tracking and start testing.