Why YOU Should Be Optimizing Landing Pages

In February, Google announced the elimination of sidebar ads, instead only choosing to show ads at the top or bottom of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). With only 4 ads in the “top” position on the desktop SERP, the competition to be in one of those top ad positions is fiercer than ever before. This competition may ultimately increase the cost per click you pay as more marketers see the benefit of PPC advertising.

So the question is “Do you want to improve your ad position without spending a lot of money?” If you are like any other sane person engaging in online marketing using Google AdWords, your answer is a resounding “YES!”. As you may already know, your ad position in the SERP is based on how much you are willing to pay per click and your ad’s Quality Score. If you don’t want to increase your Google AdWords budget, your only option is to improve Quality Score.

How to Achieve a Greater Quality Score

So how can you can optimize to achieve a greater Quality Score? Let’s first look at the components of Quality Score. Though there are several factors that may influence Quality Score, the main ones are Click-Through Rate (CTR), Ad Relevance, and Landing Page Experience. Today we will focus solely on optimizing landing pages to improve your Quality Score.

Google Landing Page Best Practices

You should take into account what Google wants to see in a landing page. Remember, if you don’t follow these guidelines, Google may choose to not show your ad. Google uses the term “Landing Page Experience” to demonstrate how well they think a user’s experience will be when they click on your ad. The characteristics of a positive Landing Page Experience are as follows:

  • Relevant, useful and original content
  • Transparency and trustworthiness
  • Ease of Navigation

Google has made it easy to see how you’re doing by providing an estimate of Landing Page Experience for any of your destination sites. This can be found on your Keywords tab by placing your cursor over the speech bubble next to the keyword status. Your Landing Page Experience for each keyword could be either “Above Average”, “Average”, or “Below Average.”

Are Your Landing Pages Relevant and Full of Original Content?

Let’s take a look at one of your current Google AdWords ads. When you look at your ad, take note of the ad text and which keywords are used. Then click on the ad to see what page on your site you land on. Is your landing page relevant to the keywords within your ad? Does your landing page match what you expected to see based on ad text? If your ad says “Buy Children’s Rain Boots”, were you taken to the home page of your footwear website or were you taken to the children’s shoes page? Better yet were you taken to a page showing only children’s rain boots? THIS is the optimal landing page.

Take the time to ensure that your landing page from your ad is exactly where you want those clicks to go; remember we want CONVERSIONS not frustrated users being directed to homepages to search for what they had already typed in the Google search bar. By making sure you are providing exactly what users expect, and what you provide to them is useful, you will meet Google’s first component of Landing Page Experience.

Can Users Trust Your Website?

In online advertising, it is important to “prove” yourself transparent and trustworthy to Google. In order to do this, there are a couple things you must include on your website.

  • Let users know who the heck are you! Make sure that your contact information is easy to find. You should also have information on your website stating who you are as a business and what you do.
  • Don’t be a creeper! Make sure you tell users exactly why you need their personal information and what you plan to do with it. It’s important to have a privacy policy easily visible near any “actional” buttons on your site (especially if you are asking users to join a contact list).

Can Users Navigate Your Website Easily?

Now that you’ve gotten a user to click on your ad and they are on your landing page, how easy is your actual site to navigate? Remember your “Children’s Rain Boots” landing page the user arrived at above? Let’s see what else Google would like you to include.

  • Any additional information you anticipate the user needing should be readily available. It would be helpful to include your shipping or return policies somewhere in the footer so the user doesn’t need to leave the landing page to find this information.
  • Make sure that the products are laid out in an easy to browse manner and are able to be filtered for the user to select and then purchase the exact rain boot they want.
  • Never include any annoying pop-ups to interrupt the user’s browsing/purchasing experience; this is neither the time nor the place for pop-ups!

So Now What?

You’ve ensured that your landing page is fully optimized and that your user will have a positive Landing Page Experience, what’s next? Remember, at the beginning of this article that you learned that Landing Page Experience is just ONE of the factors that influence your Quality Score. In order to keep improving and therefore raising your Quality Score, you will still need to address CTR and Ad Relevance. Always remember to review Google’s AdWords Policies to make sure your ads/landing pages are compliant.

Not sure if you can handle Online Advertising on your own? Weigh your options.

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Kirby VanderHorck, Online Advertising Specialist
About the Author

Kirby is an Online Advertising Specialist at OMNI. She directs the strategy and implementation of advertising campaigns for clients, including search engine advertising and social advertising, driving traffic to their website and profit to their business.

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