We all know what a landing page is from PPC advertising right? A landing page is a webpage that targets a particular idea or product and you drive qualified traffic to it, and BOOM — money arrives in your bank account!
Landing pages are built for conversion. They contain some kind of compelling argument and content, laid out in a visually appealing way that leads users to purchase something. Simple.
Now I’m going to ask a nagging question:
Why don’t we build entire websites like a coherent set of landing pages?
Don’t we want our websites to make us money?
A fun exercise on critical analysis of webpages
I have a little exercise for all of us, take your website, (regardless of the nature of the site) do a crawl of it using some tool like Screaming Frog, and pick a page at random out of it: we will analyse that page. For the sake of this exercise I will pick on the Sydney Morning Herald and do the same exercise with you.
So I found this page: http://www.smh.com.au/
Now, take the page you found and ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the meta title of that page? (The text that appears at the top of your browser tab). — Is that title appropriately matched to the concept of the page?
- What is the main heading of that page? Is it clear what the intent of this page is?
- Does this page add value to anyone’s life?
- Would anyone search Google for a term that would result in this page being the first result? Or is this page part of a users natural journey to conversion on your site?
- Is this page out of date?
- Read through the whole content of the page, then ask yourself, being reasonable, were you the first person to read it all?
- The title says “Luxury” — what does that even mean?? I know what luxury is, but if a webpage were titled “luxury” — I have no idea what to expect on this page? Maybe an article about what luxury is? Maybe examples of luxury?
- The main heading says “Luxury” — with a weird picture of a boat. above the fold this is almost all I can see. I still have no idea what this page is about or what to expect.
- Of course it’s a highly subjective question. If I had analytics data I could give a more conclusive answer. For now I’m going to say maybe. If they knew what it was
- If someone were to Google “Luxury” I highly doubt they’d ever find this page. I don’t see why Google would want this page to rank for the query “Luxury”. I doubt anyone would find this page unless they were randomly clicking around the site for fun.
- Not sure. I think it’s a category page for articles on the topic of “luxury”. The articles themselves all seem to be written this month.
- I can’t bear to read through all of the navigation and flashy, distracting ads and header / footer links. It’s just too much!
What was the point of this exercise? Hopefully my example illustrates it enough. The page I selected was of questionable “quality” in terms of content and engagement, and it’s almost impossible that this would rank for something in Google. So did this page just waste Google’s time?
Often we build webpages and never look at them again, but other people will! What if somebody stumbles onto your webpage just to find it’s out of date? What if they act on that information? Bad information can waste people’s time.
In fact, that’s another good question to ponder – does anything about your site ever waste people’s time? It is time consuming for readers when they struggle to understand the context of your website and your webpages. If, for whatever reason and through whatever channel, someone landed on your website, would they almost instantly be able to tell what your site is about or whether it contains what they are seeking?
The funny thing about PPC is often we care about the content of the landing page because we are spending money to drive traffic to that page, but why not care about free traffic all the same?
There may be people, right now, browsing your website for free and getting frustrated and leaving. Those people have money!!
This is why every page is a landing page.
Never assume that someone visiting your site knows you, your company, or what you are really about. If you start one of your blog articles with, “Shawn said XYZ to me the other day”, do they know who Shawn is? Treat every page as a prospective landing page for some long-tail or short-tail query. You’d be surprised about how people find your content and through which avenues. Sometimes you may be losing out on huge opportunities in your business because people are not finding what they thought they would find easily enough.
Google will drop users wherever on your site they feel appropriate, based on the user query. With Google organic — we don’t have the luxury of control. That’s why we need to build every page as a landing page for some concept. By “coherent set of landing pages” we mean that landing pages flow into one another as part of the user’s journey down the structure of your site towards conversion.
What are the good characteristics of a landing page?
- If you read the title alone, it should tell you exactly what the page is about. (“News about Luxury | Sydney Morning Herald”?)
- If you read the headings alone, it should tell you exactly what the page is about with extra detail. (“Some of the greatest examples of luxury in our modern world”?)
- The page answers a specific question or provides high quality information about a specific topic independent of other pages in a way that is not found anywhere else on your site (avoid redundancy) or hopefully, anywhere else on the internet (avoiding duplicate content). It should also be considered that if someone wrote an article about the same topic, does yours have a unique edge?
- Applying point #3 to online stores, if the page is a product page, is there enough information on that page to persuade someone to part with their money and purchase that product? To quote popular internet marketing author Avinash Kaushik, he said, “(Company XYZ) sells everything from a one dollar sock to multi-thousand dollar dress, and (they) have decided that because it is a very complicated thing to do, they are going to sell everything like a one dollar sock.” How much do your products cost? If you were talking to someone in person as a salesman how hard would you try to sell it to them? Is your product description convincing?
Does your page for a $130 dress say, “pretty pink dress with a zipper?” Or does it have five paragraphs of useful and captivating information about the dress, the material it’s made of, the nuance of this particular shade of magenta, social occasions that it is perfect for, celebrities who have worn a similar dress at the Grammy awards, what colours it goes well with and sample pictures, etc.?
To summarise, if someone saw only that page of your site, would they be converted to you and your brand/product? Because one page may be the only chance you will get to convert your traffic. First impressions online are often the last impressions.
I hope this little exercise and discussion gives you more insight into the power of optimising each and every page on your website. If this blog article were a landing page, would you be able to tell quickly whether it contains the information you are looking for? If not, well then this would be a very ironic article indeed.