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Fundamentals of Paid Search Landing Page Optimization


I was recently asked how often I look at my clients’ websites. After some thought, I was amazed that I don’t just use a client’s site when building out new campaigns or ad groups. I look at these brand sites for many reasons, multiple times a month.

So, for all of you paid search marketers out there, here’s a list of all of the ways you should be using a landing page to improve paid search campaigns.

Key Moments to Look at Landing Pages

Building Out New Campaigns or Accounts: When first determining structure, keywords, and themes that should be driving traffic to the client’s website, start with the landing pages. Use the website as a guide, and especially the sitemap, to create campaigns for your page, product, or conversion goals. This also helps to determine which landing pages should be matched with the available campaigns/ad groups and themes.

Restructuring: Similar to building out new campaigns, if the account requires restructuring or if you inherited an account with poor structuring, the landing pages will help decide how to restructure the account, as well as how to create relevant keywords and ad copy.

Ad Copy, Testing and Value Propositions: When writing initial or additional ad copy for testing, reviewing the landing page content is a great way to find new phrasing, value propositions or other language to use in your ads. Bonus, your ads will be relevant to the landing pages, which will help your overall quality score.

Optimization: Whether you have a low quality score, a high click through rate but low conversion rate, or a high website bounce rate, you need to evaluate whether your ad copy and keywords are being driven to the best landing page. It may be as simple as changing the landing page for your ad copy and keywords, to better match the intent of the user. Or it may be a bit more complicated, which leads us to…

When You Should Suggest Landing Page Optimization

If your campaigns or ad groups have a strong click through rate but a low conversion rate, and they are relevant to the landing page, it’s time to take a good hard look at landing page optimization. There are several potential pitfalls that a paid search landing page can have:

–        Poor conversion funnel

–        Busy Landing Page

–        Landing Page Disconnect

–        Promotions

Let’s take a look at these one by one:

Poor conversion funnel: If there are too many steps in the funnel, a user is more likely to abandon before converting completely. The conversion funnel should be simple, easy to follow and the minimum of required steps, with little to no duplication in the process.

Busy Landing Page: If the landing page has a lot of unnecessary content, multiple columns, or has links that take the user away from the conversion page, a user is more likely to bounce early. The landing page should be clean, simple, and direct the user without providing them with links to external pages that could divert them from the conversion funnel.

Landing Page Disconnect: If a website has only one or two landing pages, but multiple conversion goals, products or themes, the keyword and ad copy driving traffic to the site could be too disconnected from the available landing pages. User intent is an important part of keyword and ad copy choice, so if the landing page doesn’t answer the user’s query, they are more likely to bounce without converting. For multiple conversion goals, you’ll need multiple landing pages, whether they are microsites or additional pages on the site. And please don’t send all traffic to the home page – brand campaigns are the only campaigns that should ever land on the home page.

Promotions: Sending traffic to a landing page with no mention, banners or other signs of the promotion that initially drove them to click on the ad and brought them to your site, may cause the user to bounce. Best practice is to drive all traffic to a specific promotions landing page or to a separate microsite. If you are unable to create a separate page for your promotion, at least make sure the landing page you are using for your promotions traffic contains the promotional message in a prominent, easy to find spot, and a simple way for users to click through and convert on the promotion.

One final piece of advice – test your landing pages. Whether that’s done through a third party vendor or within your own site, it is crucial that your paid search campaigns direct traffic to an optimized paid search landing page.

So, for all you paid search marketers and account managers out there, I challenge you to think hard as to when you look at landing pages and when you don’t. I bet you do it more than you think, but less than you should.

Stay tuned for the second part – Fundamentals of Improving Organic Search Traffic Conversions from David Waterman [2]