Advanced Pay Per Click (PPC) Certification Program

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Landing Pages: Landing Page best practices

Welcome to the eleventh lesson ‘Landing Pages’ of the PPC Advertising Tutorial, which is a part of Advanced Pay Per Click (PPC) Certification Course offered by Simplilearn.

In this lesson, we're going to look at where you should send your page search traffic.

Let us first look at the objectives of this lesson.

Objectives

After completing this lesson, you will learn:

  • About basic PPC landing pages

  • How to create dedicated PPC landing pages

  • How to keep the buying cycle length in mind

  • How to segment your traffic to various landing pages

Destination URLs

In paid search accounts, you generally have two different places you can choose where the destination URL sits. The destination URL is where someone goes after they click on your ad.

Ad copy level

You can generally have destination URLs at the ad copy level and this is the default for pretty much every paid search account. In some accounts such as Bing and AdWords, you can also have URLs at the keyword level.

Keyword level

If you put the URL at the keyword level, the keyword level URL supersedes the ad copy level. If you don't have a keyword level URL, then the ad copy one is used instead. If you're using AdWords and Google Analytics, it can be beneficial to edit your destination URLs automatically to enable auto-tagging.

This puts additional information which Google understands how to read, on your URLs, so that Google Analytics can read the additional data about the click, and put more statistics inside of your analytics account.

Google Analytics

Now if you're using Google Analytics, but you're using Facebook, Bing, LinkedIn, some other account, and you want to be able to see all this information inside of Google Analytics.

You can use the Google Analytics URL builder tool to build your destination URLs for these other advertising systems. That way you can see a lot of information inside of Analytics about how any of your paid search accounts are performing.

What do visitors think?

When someone sees your ad, they think you can answer their question. So when they click on your ad, they come to your websites. Well, there's a lot of questions going through their mind. These are questions that you need to answer quickly.

The first one is:

Am I in the correct place?

Since the ad copy set the expectation of what will be found after the click if the landing page does not meet those same expectations the user will generally leave your site pretty quickly. Ensuring that your landing page is closely related to your ad copy is essential.

Another question is:

Is this what I expected to see?

Show the user how to receive the answer to their question. The display URL and the ad copy is also essential here, as it tells a user where they will go after they click. So it sets proper expectations.

Do I trust this site?

Trust is important, especially if you accept personal information such as credit cards or email addresses.

A nicely designed site can convey more trust than a poorly designed site even if the information is the same. If you take credit cards or personal information, you want to make sure you have an SSL certificate installed. A privacy policy can also help alleviate fears about trusting your websites.

How long will this take?

There's something known as the big three, and whenever you affect the big three, you need to be careful.

  • Time

  • Money

  • Family

So a big question is how long will this take? People try to calculate sometimes almost unconscious, but how long a task will take to accomplish. If a task requires more time and they have time currently, they're going to leave.

However, it can be difficult to judge how long something takes on a website. So, making a process look simple is important. If you have a multi-step form, tell the visitor how long the time investment is. At a high-level people can only hold five to seven items in short-term memory, that's it.

Now a few of our short-term memory items are reserved for things like why we searched, we have an appointment in a couple of minutes, so forth. This means your site can only occupy three to five items of someone's short-term memory.

If you overwhelm someone with options, often a search with think getting their answer is more complicated than they thought, may put the task aside. So making a page look simple is important as well.

Where should I go next?

Where should I go next or what should I do next is the next question your site must address. Having a clear path to action is essential, so someone knows what to do after they click and get to your website.

Now whatever you want someone to do, should be the essential theme of your landing page. Giving someone enough information so they realize you can help them out, and help them accomplish their goal, is essential.

So your main items should be above the fold and the primary action of that page. And for every single page in your site, you should know exactly what your best case scenario is when someone gets the page.

You should say to yourself, if someone visits this page, I want them to do this. Subscribe to our newsletter, call us, buy this product. And if your answer is well, they buy a product, subscribe to a newsletter, follow us on a social media site, then it was good.

If that's your answer, you don't have a primary action, and you can't focus your page around a single action.

Every page of your site should have a primary goal. You might have a secondary or a tertiary goal as well. However, a secondary, a tertiary goal should receive less total exposure on your page.

This concept goes back to the original goals you set when you decided to advertise it. What are your goals? Your pay is your calls to action, your path-to-action and do you have real estate on your pages dedicated to the goals that you want someone to do?

Should I click the back button?

Where someone should go next should be obvious when they get to your page. You don't want them thinking that should they use the most used navigational element on the entire web, click the back button.

If you don't answer these questions, that's going to happen. So it's important to keep these questions in mind as you choose your landing page.

Conventional Wisdom

Conventional wisdom says:

  • Send someone to the furthest logical point in the buying cycle

  • Or a page dedicated to the search query.

To keep this in mind, you'll be in good shape when you choose your landing pages.

Home Pages

When you look at a website, they all start with home pages. But rarely are homepages the best place to send traffic.

Homepages are pathways to more specific areas of your site. They often contain too many items to focus your customer into a specific conversion type. So one of the top mistakes new advertisers make is sending all traffic to the home page.

If your site is really specific about one exact topic, it might be okay to send traffic to the home page. But the homepage should be the last page you're thinking about when you're buying traffic.

For queries that are more broad-based like Seiko watches, AdWords books, plasma television sets, Category Pages are okay. They're not specific enough to choose a product page. However even testing out sending some traffic to an actual product versus category can be useful.

The problem with category pages, they're usually not focused on a single conversion type. But instead, list out options, and it's the searcher's job to pick an option, click to the next step in the conversion process.

If your category contains tens, or hundreds, of items, you've asked them to consider more options than they can hold in short-term memory. To give somebody too many options, it's paralyzing.

In those cases, make your category pages smaller. Choose just a few items such as your bestseller, your top margin, your most feature products.

Even if you have a serving base site don't offer someone 30 services. Offer three or bundle them together and offer a silver, diamond, and gold package. Narrowing down the options on a page can make information easier to process. So someone can continue through your site towards that conversion item.

Product Pages

If the query is specific to a product they always send the traffic to the product page. Always use the most focused page available. Don't send product queries to category pages. You move someone up the buying cycle on the wrong direction if they were specific about a product, and you sent them back to a category.

When someone uses a product query, they're often at the end of the buying cycle where they're ready to buy. Your product page should be focused around selling that as the product.

So a category page is better for someone in the shopping or research phase of the buying cycle. The product page is better when someone's at the buy phase of the cycle.

Segmenting Users until Action occurs

Essentially every page of your site is a segmentation page until the user conducts an action. Your home page funnels someone to a category; category funnels someone to a product, product page convinces someone to buy.

If your primary action on the page is not a convert this moment, then your action is probably for someone to visit another page of your website. In this case, the action is either click on search jobs now if you're the job seeker or learn more about finding employees if you're an employer.

While these two options could be overwhelming with choice, Monster's got a lot of features.

monsters-features-for%20segmentingThey could show on this page find employees with this particular degree and this particular location who want this particular salary. Well, that could be thousands of choices. It's not; it's two simple choices, two buttons stand out on the page.

The industry does not matter

Now while many of these examples are focusing on E-commerce, your industry doesn't matter, the logic is the same. Too often a search query is kitchen remodeling, the ad goes to the homepage of a plumber website. The logic being well, all plumbers do kitchen remodeling.

However, that's not necessarily true, that the first thing that someone has to do upon reaching your site is search again for their information via the search box, or through your navigation, you added an extra unnecessary step to the process.

Every step you add to the process decreases your chance of a conversion. So even a service-based industry, for example, the kitchen and bathroom modeling page, send a visitor to the page that describes what they're looking for, this case,

Segmentation Pages

There will be times you don't know enough about the user to send them to the correct page. For instance, residents, physicians, and students all search for medical journals for the New England Journal of Medicine, however, the site doesn't know the searcher's occupation.

Too often what happens is an advertiser creates three ad groups, one for physicians, one for residents, one for students, with the appropriate ad copy, but uses the same keywords in each ad group.

In that case, you're just kind of hoping the correct ad shows up based upon the user occupation. That's a mistake; hope is never a good marketing strategy, you've also given your ad server control to Google.

You should always have an ad copy and landing page in mind for every keyword in your account. If you're unsure, then test multiple pages, but when you're done testing, you should have a page that you know what the best page is for each keyword.

You should not search again

So when someone gets to your website, they should not have to hunt for information. Putting the searcher on the correct page based upon their search query is your job. This is the first step to getting someone on your website to convert, putting them on the right page.

There are many reasons people don't convert, and there's a lot to learn about creating pages that make someone convert. However, if the user does not end up on the correct page for the query the beauty of your page doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter how much time you spent writing the perfect copy on the page. Always make sure the page you're sending traffic to is a page that helps the searcher find the answer to their question.

Creating dedicated PPC Landing Pages

There are many times that your CMS, your content management system, might make pages that aren't great for conversions. You might be designing your site for SEO purposes, which means you need to worry about how links flow to your site, and all that other good SEO stuff.

In cases like these, you might consider creating pages just for your page search traffic. Since these pages don't have to worry about links and anchored text and how your content management system functions, you can concentrate on conversions for these pages.

Basic PPC Landing Page

Consider a Basic PPC Landing Page from Bose.

basic-ppc-landing-page-from-boseThat's a good example of a basic PPC landing page. Now this page is not accessible from the rest of the main site's navigation. This page is only used as a landing page for paid traffic. The top of the page focuses on the product themselves with the call to action to buy.

The second action is to learn more which goes to a detailed product page, also focused on selling a product. Further down on the page there's text about the benefits of the product, which helps both the consumer and their quality score relevancy.

Near the bottom of the page, there are links to their main site navigation. Learn more about Bose, so forth.

Now Google and Microsoft have minimal requirements for pages, and one of them is you must have some navigation on the page. Essentially, if someone doesn't find what they are looking for, do they have another option?

So having just some of these links at the bottom of the page satisfies that navigational element of their policies. So this is a decent page built for page search traffic.

Segmentation Pages

The segmentation pages are also good page source landing pages.

the-segmentation-page-exampleIn this case, what you're seeing is what appears above the folds, which is what's viewed in a browser when a page first loads. Below the fold is more text about storage devices themselves.

But when you have a product that has two uses, same product. In a case like that, a segmentation page can be useful because it sends the user to the correct page based upon how they're going to use the product. But you should test segmentation pages.

This is very similar to the previous page, just with different images focused around how technical the user is.

If you're technical and you're buying Iomega drives, you ought to know things like RPM speed and exactly how many megabytes it holds.

For not a technical person, you don't need to care about RPM speed of drives; you want to know what holds 15,000 pictures or three movies, different types of information, same product, different user base.

So instead of trying to focus a page on two users at once, which is possible with some persuasion theory, but you may try a segmentation page.

Unknown User Intent

Let's look at one last segmentation page.

the-segmentation-page-hotelsWhen you look at hotels, and this goes for a lot of industries, you have two types of users:

Leisure travelers:

They want to know about daycare, if we have cribs for rent and how far is it to local attractions.

Business travelers:

They want to know things like an airport shuttle, an executive lounge and a wi-fi or business center.

These are two different users. However, they both search for a New York City hotel. They don't say ‘I want a New York City hotel for business travelers, or I want a New York City hotel for family travel.’ You may see some search queries like that, low volume.

So in that case, try a segmentation page versus your other pages, see what does better.

Reinforce Discount Codes

Way too often, you'll see an ad that says, use discount code AZQ20 for 15% off and that advertisement gets the user to the landing page. They start navigating through the site. They decide to sign up, but they don't remember the discount code. So the user doesn't run the discount code.

They go back to the search engine, they search again and try to find it. If they can't find it, they're going to abandon the entire search process.

So reinforcing your discount code on your landing page or even running a little banner at the top of the page use code 372 for 10% off your shopping cart. That way every time a page loads there's a reminder that there's a benefit if they finish buying.

reinforce-discount-codes-exampleHow much Navigation?

Now with dedicated pages, one big question is how much navigation should you use? Look at the two examples from the eHarmony website.

dedicated-pages-two-examples-from-eharmonyThe only difference in these pages is that first doesn't have any additional links and second has three additional links:

  • Why eHarmony?

  • What to expect

  • Real couples

You often find is that when a brand is well known, you don't need as much about our type of information. When a brand is not well known, you might need more additional links.

So if you're well known in one city right now, and you do some radio and TV advertising and online advertising, and you're going to expand, open office in a new city. In the new city, you don't have this marketing penetration yet.

Therefore, you might want a different page in that new city that has more about us information, where a place where you have a higher brand penetration, you might not need that same additional navigation.

Reinforce Message

If you put something in ad copy, your landing page should be an extension of the ad and also have that same call to action, those same claims in your ad on the landing page. Now forms are one of the worst optimized section of the entire web. Too often a form asks for more information than is necessary.

The more fields a form contains, the more intimidating it becomes. Let us look at the form below.

six-pages-and-a-300-form-fieldSo this first form is six pages, it's a 300 form field and is pretty bad. If you just add something simple, such as this is a six-page, 30-minute process or saying ‘you can always call us, and we'll walk you through it.’

That often does quite well for increasing conversions, but if you look at the competitor, it's a simple one, two, three steps as shown below.

the-competitor-simple-one-two-three-steps-reinforce-message

So forms can be good landing pages. Just make sure they look simple, that you're respecting someone's time. Do not use a form of learning based queries without some additional information on the page.

If it's just a form, you're not giving enough information yet for them to answer their question. Because what often happens in the mortgage industry, is someone searches for Chicago mortgage, and they get to a page that fills out this form, and we'll give you mortgage quotes.

So a person might think that it was compelling and there were some nice trust things on the page. They decided to fill it out, and they got to page three, and there was a question, and it was required.

If it said what kind of mortgage do you want? The answers are reverse, 30-year interest, 20-year interest, fixed, 7-year ARM, 5-year interest only and the person's kind of over on the choices. But they also don't know what these things are because they were in the learning phase.

So what happens? They go back, and they searched for all these mortgage types. You might just lose that user. So forms can be useful landing pages, but make sure that if you ask a question, especially if it's required, that the user has enough information to convert and finish filling out the form.

Not Perfection: Clear Information

You don't have to make some super expensive dedicated pretty pages. What pages need to do is easily convey information to the consumer. Consider a page which is not an expensive page; it is effective.

page-example-not-an-expensive-but-effectiveThe main call to action is the only thing in yellow, which is a phone number in this case.

There are some secondary conversion actions. Information's easy to see, easy to digest. This is a good page for local-based business. So you don't have to be perfect. Especially if you don't have a big budget. You need clear, easy to understand information.

If you're creating dedicated pages for paid search, then you probably don't want those pages indexed in the organic search results. Especially true if you're using the same content on a whole lotta page, you're doing search engines optimization.

Look at an example Robots.txt file below.

robots-txt-file-example

All of a sudden Google has 12 versions of the page indexed. There can be some confusion on the crawler basis.

So in that case, you will want to adjust your Robots.txt file. A Robots.txt file is essentially just an instruction manual for a bot that says what it can and can't crawl on a page. That's all it is.

It lives at Yoursite.com or Yoursite.co.uk/robots.txt. You don't have one; they're not required. But if you do have one, then what you can do is put all these dedicated landing pages in a single folder.

And then do a global disallow on the folder telling every bot don't crawl this folder. Now Google uses a bot called adsbot-Google to crawl pages for AdWords information. Now Adsbot-Google ignores global disallow information.

Therefore if you put all your page search landing pages in one folder in your robots.txt file do a global disallow saying nobody can crawl this page then all the organic bots would ignore that folder, but adsbot-Google will still read those pages.

So Google Webmaster Tools is a good place to look at some of this information where you can see what is and isn't being crawled, especially if you're using dedicated landing pages.

Recognize the Buying Cycle Length

Always remember the buying cycle, when you're looking at what landing page to use.

Many users convert online

- If you have an offline presence, make sure the visitor knows how to find you.

If someone's early in the buying cycle, give them options:

- White papers, product trials, product information downloads so that you have on their desktop

- Ask for a phone number and say, our sales rep will call you back so that you have their phone number, and you can put them in a CRM system, so do follow-ups.

- If someone signs up for a newsletter or email for more information, you now have a presence in their inbox, and can put them into a loyalty program or upscale program via email.

Engage users that are yet not ready to buy it

- Give options to such users

If someone is ready to buy, make sure to engage that user

- Sell to users who are ready to buy and guide the user through your website and remove all barriers to conversions.

Summary

Let us now summarize what we covered in this lesson.

Extension of ad copy:

You should think of a landing page as an extension of your ad copy.

Seamless transition:

There should be a seamless transition from the ad to the landing page.

Landing Page should contain:

  • Same theme as ad copy

  • Be closely related to the search query

  • Have Information claimed by ad

  • Have a clear call to action

  • Have a clear path to action

Conclusion

With this, we come to an end to what this Landing Pages lesson is all about. In the next lesson, we’ll discuss Ad Copy Testing.

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