Constant improvement. It’s the mindset of any good search engine marketer. But have you ever stopped and realized that the answer to what could be holding back wonderful PPC results might not be found in AdWords at all? I’m talking about your landing pages. If you’re seeing wonderful metrics (high CTR, low CPC’s, etc.) in your ad groups and horrible conversions results, then it’s time for you to start looking at your landing page experience. When I started in PPC, landing page experience was something I never considered. My mind was then opened to this thought. If a user searches for something, finds your ad and clicks on it, then that’s great! But at that point, AdWords can’t help you anymore. Your website has to deliver on everything you promised in your ad. Let’s take a look at a couple examples of how I improved the user experience for a few clients’ websites and the results I saw from them.
E-commerce Landing Page Optimization Example
At a previous agency I worked at, I had the pleasure of working with a local, Harley-Davidson dealership. They just launched a new website that completely changed the layout of their old one. On the old website, they had their merchandise laid out by category. So under the Jackets page you’d find product for both men and women. There were filters built in to segment by men or women that helped with our destination URLs for men, women and generic search queries. The new site took on more of a large-scale, retail feel. What I mean by this is that now the sitemap broke out products by men and women on completely separate pages. The new problem that came up was this. If someone searched for just “harley davidson jackets,” where do we send them? Right after site launch, we had limited time to make new pages to satisfy all users searching for these generic search terms. Here’s a look at our first step.
The quickest way we could solve the problem was to give the user options. We can’t tell if the user coming to the site is a man or woman. I created pages for every single type of merchandise category to let the user decide where to go next. This change alone (we did not touch AdWords during this round of landing page changes) resulted in a bounce rate decrease of 6% and a revenue increase of 5%. That’s good. An improvement for sure, but I wasn’t happy with it. So I took it a step further. Thankfully, the CMS allowed me to create a different type of landing page that actually showed the product to the user. I could add any filter to the landing page to satisfy more users who looked up those generic terms. Here’s a look at the second round of landing page optimization we did for users who typed in generic search terms like “harley davidson leather jackets”
You can now see that the user experience is much better. We eliminated an entire step. Users see product for what they were looking for and not a subcategory page. Added bonus? We added a value message to the landing page for free shipping. So not only does that entice a user to buy a jacket (because most of them are over $149 anyway), but I could use that same value message in my ads to boost CTRs. This landing page optimization tactic decreased bounce rate by 40% and increased revenue by 19% on top of the results we saw from the first round of LPO. Amazing! But that’s not all. We also saw all quality scores from the generic campaigns improve to only 9s and 10s, and CPCs dropped to $0.20 – $0.50 for jackets that all cost around $200. Cha-ching!
B2B Landing Page Optimization Example
One client that I’m currently working with has an extremely old, pure-HTML website. But it performs extremely well so it hasn’t been updated in a long time. Here’s an example of a product page I had to pull from the Wayback Machine to show what it looked like a couple of years ago. The design got messed up from the pull, but focus on the boring, gray RFQ form on the righthand side.
As stated above, our campaigns were performing well, but I’m never satisfied. I always want to improve. So we made an extremely simple design change to the RFQ form. We changed it from gray to red to make it stand out more.
So easy. So simple. This “little” update increased goal conversions on this form by 233% just one month after going live. Just like the Harley example above, AdWords was not touched at all during this time period.
Landing Page Optimization Tips
Now let’s take a look at a few other examples of how you can improve your goal conversion rates and see the cost-per-conversion ratio plummet to better improve the ROI we get from PPC.
Relay the Message
Whatever you say in your ads better be visible on your landing pages! Here’s a good example from The Cover Store.
Never over-promise in your ads and under-deliver on your landing page. That pretty much makes you a liar and builds distrust with your users. Back up all of your claims in your PPC ads.
Don’t Confuse Your Users
Recently, I was looking for paint to prep my daughter’s, new room (Cue the awwwww sound byte). I did what anyone else would do. I went to Google and searched for “interior paint.” Here is the first result I saw with the corresponding landing page.
I searched for interior paint, but Benjamin Moore sent me to a page that showed an example of a bedroom. No thanks. Bounce! Let’s look at the ad and landing page that were in position two.
Remember I searched for “interior paint.” So what does BEHR show me? A page that has images of interior paint, an H1 header that says interior paint, product that is interior paint. Guess who got my business?
Check Your Landing Page Relevance
This is an easy one that takes very little time. If you’re targeting a keyword, make sure it’s on your landing page! Remember that quality score is not associated with your target keyword. It has to do with the connection of your keyword and the user’s actual search query. Let’s say I wanted to target two keywords: “ppc management services” and “voiceover services.” Let’s see how relevant those terms are on my website.
I feel pretty comfortable in creating a campaign around PPC management since I have a page dedicated to that topic. If I had a few beers and decided to create a PPC campaign around voiceover work (which I don’t do), I can see on Google that I don’t have a dedicated landing page for voiceover work.
- Compile your list of keywords
- Search for them on your website by going to Google and typing (keyword site:yourdomain.com)
- If you don’t see any results, or pages that don’t make sense, you need a new landing page for that keyword!
Page Site Speed
Last one for the day. Site speed is definitely a factor in rankings for not only SEO, but PPC as well. The landing page experience is a component to determine your quality scores. So if your site takes forever to load, expect your keywords to take some sort of a hit on QS. To see how Google views the speeds of your landing pages, go to PageSpeed Insights. From there Google will give a number grade out of 100 to tell you how your site is doing in both a mobile and desktop appearance.
The downer is that you’ll have to do this URL by URL. Google will then give you recommendations on how to speed up each of your landing pages to provide the user with a better experience. Happy user = better results.
Go and Optimize those Landing Pages
There are many more tips I could give, but that’s for another blog. Use the PPC landing page optimization tips I mentioned above to help you improve your AdWords campaigns by not even touching your accounts. If you want additional knowledge that will blow your mind (and inspired me more than they will ever know) read as much as you can from these guys…
Bryan Eisenberg – Developing a High Converting Landing Page
Avinash Kaushik – Web Design and User Experience Best Practices