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How to Design Landing Pages for Paid Search
Sure you’ve designed plenty of landing pages before, but paid search is a different animal. The best practices are not the same and being on your best CRO game is essential. The question really is, what makes these landing pages distinctive?
Let’s be truthful, websites are often designed to be more beautiful than functional. That’s a hindrance for paid search ads. The target audience of your main website is much wider than that of your ad campaign. When a user visits a website, they may be looking for information, wanting to make a purchase or comparing you to other companies. Whereas those who visit a landing page have a different objective (usually acting on an offer you’ve presented), therefore the goal of a landing page differs.
A singular goal
Landing pages have a singular goal - to convert traffic. Basically, you’ve created the page in order to drive the visitor to complete a specific action. Often, it’s to fill out a form or call. No matter what your goal action is, the implicit strategy is to remove the ability for the user to navigate away from the page. You don’t want distractions or anything that will prevent your user from doing exactly what you’d like.
What elements are essential?
This is one area which is always hotly debated. Yes, there are definitely industry-specific needs but we’re talking about bare bones basics here: headlines, call to action (CTA), phone number, etc.
First of all, your landing page needs to have one singular CTA. It should match whatever your goal is. Your CTA works best as a button because you want the user to perform the action. Some great examples are “Book Now,” “Call Now” and “Sign Up Today.” You’ll want to have this listed 2 to 3 times throughout the page with the first instance above the fold so it won’t be missed if someone doesn’t scroll down.
Your CTA should match your goal, for instance, if you want calls you should use “Call Now.” If your goal and CTA don’t match, your visitors will be confused - and unlikely to convert.
Name, address and phone number. These should be prominently placed to show visitors that you are a legitimate business. Moreover, Google’s policies require that you show at least the phone number or address. It also makes it possible for the user to perform the action you request, regardless of the device they might be on. For instance, a call now button doesn’t work for most people on desktops.
Unique selling proposition (USP)
This is what makes the product or service stand out from the competitors. Your landing page should sell users on what makes your product or service something they have to have. If your landing page doesn’t include this, it’s extremely unlikely you’ll generate leads.
While no one likes to give money away, a promo is often needed to give landing page visitors some incentive to buy, call, make an appointment, etc. If you’re a doctor, a dentist, a pizza place or any other business where you have plenty of others competing with you, you’ll have to have an offer. This should be money off, something free, a discounted rate, whatever is competitive in your area. Unless your business is completely unique and your USP is a cut above the rest this will be what you need to get more leads.
You need an eye-catching headline at the top of the page and a high-quality image. Next, you’ll need purposeful subheadings that help guide the visitor through your page. They should make it easy for anyone skimming the page to quickly find the information they need. Your phone number and form should be at the top of the page, above the fold so it will be in view without scrolling down.
Your page should have a balance of text and whitespace. Too much text will be confusing and too demanding on your visitor. Most people aren’t interested in reading large amounts of text on a site. Place your most important content first, so that those who don’t make it all the way down the page will still receive your message. Too much white space will leave your visitor looking for more information.
Bottom of the page
Additionally, it’s a good idea to place the contact information here as well. Placing a form here or a way to easily jump back to your form will make it easy for users to complete your goal and will result in more conversions. Remember, making it easy to complete your goal action means users are more likely to convert.
We all know that we trust something more when other people say good things about it. A business can say great things about itself all it wants, but it won’t have the desired effect. In this social world, we look for social proof like customer testimonials, awards, reviews and trust seals or industry badges from the appropriate agency for the industry. Some examples of these trust seals would be the Better Business Bureau, TRUSTe and Norton.
Your content needs to match your paid search keywords or else your quality score will suffer. Having your keywords on your landing page shows the search engine that your page is relevant to the keywords you’re using. The content should also be relevant to the target persona you’ve identified.
Dynamic keyword insertion, if used carefully can provide a way to create a message match between a search query and your landing page. When users see their query on the page, it helps them to see your landing page is relevant to what they were looking for.
Nope, you’re ditching this. Landing pages don’t have navigation bars because it would distract from the goal. Give the potential customer all of the information they would be looking for right on this page. Leaving the page means leaving the conversion optimized confines of the page.
You should consider using bullet points in any area where there would otherwise be large blocks of content. Users like being able to quickly read through the page and get the gist of your product or service.
Images and video
Be careful with video. A well-placed video can help sell a potential customer on the benefits of your product or service, but it can also be annoying or boring. Definitely, avoid autoplay. A visitor may not want the video to start without their permission for various reasons.
When it comes to images, they should be interesting and relevant. They should break up blocks of content so that it doesn’t seem like too much to read. And most importantly, you want a balance between images and text. Keep in mind, you’ll want to keep image sizes small enough that the page doesn’t load slowly.
This is something that’s always important, but imperative when paying for traffic. People who click ads have very little patience. That means under no circumstance can it take longer than four seconds for your page to load. Some studies even show that most visitors expect the site to load within two seconds. To test how your page does, you can use Google’s Test or another like GT Metrix. Also keep in mind that Google and Bing both use landing page load time as part of your quality score, so a slow landing page will result in poor quality scores, fewer clicks and higher cost per click.
Your CTA needs to be irresistible and compelling. There should be no ambiguity here. Remember to tell, not ask. You have to sound sure of yourself in order for other people to trust you.
Don’t create multiple calls to action, ways to navigate off the page or add things that are not relevant to your goal. Anything distracting is going to impact your conversions.
Be sure to create content that not only utilizes your paid search keywords but also answers the users’ questions. Address possible pain points. A user shouldn’t have to do further research to get the answers they are looking for.
Now that you have all of this information, you may be wondering what Google says. Google AdWords offers some insights into how your landing page affects your campaigns and what best practices you should follow via AdWords Help.
The next time you’re creating a landing page for paid search, keep in mind it’s a completely different animal from an organic page. Here are some additional landing page best practices outside of the paid search scope. Throw out what you know and streamline the page. Happy designing!