When done well, landing pages – the destination pages that searchers lands on after they click your paid search ads – stretch your advertising budget farther to generate more sales or leads.
Critical to the success of paid search, a good landing page can increase your conversion rate, driving more orders or leads for the same amount of money spent. They can also decrease your cost per click (CPC) because Google Ads, and to a lesser extent Microsoft Advertising, grades your landing pages. The higher quality they are, the less you may have to pay for your clicks. Combine the two benefits – a better conversion rate and a decreased CPC – and your advertising dollar goes farther, giving you a better return on investment.
Advertisers who understand the importance of landing pages – those who get that it’s not simply a home page or a one-size-fits-all solution; those who spend time creating thoughtfully designed pages with conversion in mind – can see their investment pay off, and quickly.
The 12 tips below sum up the most important characteristics of high-quality PPC landing pages.
1. Reassure with Your Heading
In order to confirm for searchers that they are in the right place, include a short, clear headline – and possibly a smaller subhead – at the top of your landing page. The headline should describe the purpose of the page and can be echoed in ad copy when it is created. This helps the person who lands on the page know that they are in the right spot, and helps reduce your bounce rate.
2. Identify Yourself
Clearly indicate your company name and toll-free phone number in the top right corner of the page. This lends credibility to the site and helps the visitor know that, if they have a problem, they can reach someone for help. They may never call you, but we’ve found that something as simple as a phone number in the top right corner can increase conversion rates.
3. Be Tidy
Use a simple, clear, uncluttered design. Don’t busy up the page with links to every other product or page on the site. This can distract a potential visitor and derail the action that you want them to take.
4. Prioritize Visibility
Make sure that everything important displays above the fold without scrolling. Graphics shouldn’t take up the whole page, nor should a header or navigation. Allow enough content to show to encourage the conversion, whether that’s the headline, subhead, text, a form, a button, or an image. Always make sure to prioritize the most important elements at the top.
5. Break up the Gray
Don’t drown visitors in a sea of text. Give them enough information to know what they are buying, but not so much that they get bored reading. Use bullets, subheads, and icons to break up text blocks and allow people to skim for the information they need.
6. Invite Action
Clearly communicate your call-to-action. If you want visitors to order, create a prominent “Buy Now” button. If you want them to call, show your phone number clearly. If you want them to fill out a lead form, guide them to it or make it sticky on the right hand as they scroll. Don’t make visitors think about what to do next, or assume that they’ll be able to figure it out if it’s not front and center.
7. Prove Your Value
Answer the unspoken question of why the visitor should feel confident about giving you their money or contact information. Have you been in business since 1892? Are you ranked in the top three of your field? Do you have an iron-clad return policy? Whatever your unique selling proposition, share it to prove your experience, trustworthiness, and credibility. It’s OK to brag a little, but don’t lie or stretch the truth.
8. Make It Worth Their While
Offer an incentive to encourage conversion. Do you have free shipping, 10% off all orders over $25, a discount if you sign-up with 10 days, a free 28-day trial, or a no-obligation quote? Display it prominently. This is your chance to sell yourself before your visitor defects to your competitors’ sites.
9. Make It Quick
For lead generation, include a short, concise contact form. Conversion rates go up when visitors don’t have to click to another page to provide their contact details. Don’t ask for more information than you need on a form. Gather the bare minimum necessary in order to follow up, complete the sale, send the newsletter, etc.
True story: I’ve been to websites where, in order to request more information, I had to enter my credit card number. Do you think I filled those forms out? Absolutely not.
10. Be Specific
Make sure that your landing page speaks to the keywords you’re advertising on. If you’re selling different product types or brands, create a landing page for each. That way your page headline can clearly show users that they’re getting exactly what they searched for. Don’t use a one-size-fits-all approach.
11. Welcome Them
Treat every landing page like a mini homepage. Never slap a landing page together as an afterthought. The majority of your paid search customers may never see your homepage. Each landing page needs to welcome visitors in as valued customers.
12. Include Testimonials
Boost visitors’ confidence by sharing satisfied customers’ stories. It will improve your credibility and make you look good using someone else’s words.
We can send all the qualified paid search traffic in the world to a site, but it’s wasted money if it doesn’t convert. Time and time again, we’ve had clients ask what they can do to get more business out of their PPC advertising efforts. The typical answer: “Landing page optimization.”
Like the saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” That may be true, but stronger landing pages make the horse want to drink the water.
Note: This article was originally written on May 21, 2008, and was substantially updated on June 17, 2020.