Technical Definition of a Landing Page
“Landing page” may sound straightforward, but it’s actually a slippery term. Technically, a landing page is any page that a visitor to your site first sees—the page they land on. This often means the home page, but if visitors followed a link to your site, they may land on any page on your site. So every page on your website could be considered a landing page. And that means that every page on your site should have some aspects of a pure landing page.
However, for this post I’m going to be referring to landing pages from the perspective of special pages designed for visitors coming to your site after clicking on a pay-per-click (PPC) ad. These types of landing pages have a very specific goal: convert the person who clicked on your ad.
How Is a Landing Page Different from a Web Page?
Landing pages for PPC campaigns serve one main purpose: convert the person who clicked on your ad. “Converting” can be when a visitor purchases a product, fills out a form, or contacts your company. No matter how you define a conversion, the landing page should do everything possible to increase the number of people who do what you hope they will.
This is in sharp contrast to most website pages. Take a look at your home page or any other page on your website. You will probably find that these pages are for teaching: about your product, your service, your industry, or your company. Teaching is not focused on converting and therefore will not do as good a job as a dedicated landing page.
How Does a Landing Page Convert More People?
In order to accomplish the goal of converting visitors, a landing page must do a few things:
- Assure the visitor the landing page is THE ANSWER to the question they just typed into Google. This means the landing page has to follow the Goldilocks principle: don’t give the visitor too little or too much information, give her just the right amount to assure her the page is the perfect answer.
- Show the visitor very clearly how to move forward (call, write, fill out a form…whatever you need for them to convert).
- Not confuse or distract the visitor with anything superfluous. For instance, if you provide a full navigation bar, the visitor could begin wandering around your website and eventually leave.
Therefore, a landing page should be very direct, with a simple design, and contain less information than a Web page. While the lack of information might turn away some people—especially those high in the buying funnel—if done well, it will convert a higher percentage than a non-focused landing page.
What Should Be on a Landing Page?
There is no absolute list of what should be on a landing page. As with every decision in Internet marketing, the best course of action is to test multiple ideas to uncover which works best.
A few items are a must:
- Call to Action
Rule #1 of selling: Ask for the business. Don’t be shy—make sure to tell tell visitors what they need to do to move forward. If you provide a service, you likely want the visitor to call (hopefully a unique, countable phone number) or fill out a highly visible contact form. Make sure to tell them that!If you are selling a product on a Web page, you need to make sure it’s clear how to place the product into a shopping cart and check out.
Make sure to have enough text-based content on your landing page to reassure search engines that the page is directly connected to the PPC ad. Remember, the search engines can’t see pictures, and Flash is a huge challenge for them.
- Items Required by Google
Above I mentioned that landing pages often lack full navigation, for good reason. And, although Google doesn’t like this, if you have a few items somewhere on the page (they don’t have to be prominent), it will still give you good quality scores in AdWords. That suggested list of on-page items includes:
- Link to the website’s home page.
- Link to your “About Us” page
- The keywords from the ad group, especially in the URL, the title tag, the H1 tag, and in the body of the content.
- Contact information
Should A Landing Page Scroll or Not?
There are are two competing philosophies for landing pages: keep it short or let it scroll. The former approach, which has been around for many years, is to keep the landing page as close to one page as possible, with no scrolling. This keeps the page ultra simple for the visitor and there is nothing for them to do but convert.
A newer philosophy, which has a good amount of info demonstrating its success, is to have a long landing page that requires quite a bit of scrolling. These pages usually include large pictures, perhaps videos, and lots of text. However, as you scroll down the page you are also going to see a call to action more than once (good example here at SEOmoz). This style is the favorite of a lot of the scam sites, but also with highly reputable sites, such as every product page on Amazon.
We would suggest that you try both approaches—maybe somewhere in between as well—and test to see which works best for your product or service.
Landing Pages Make Sense
Your home page has likely been designed to help funnel visitors to the page they really want on your site and to give them an overview your company, products, or services. A landing page should be designed to do everything possible to turn visitors into customers. These are very different goals.