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by Graeme Benge on 15th November 2012
SEO and PPC are quite clearly a separate skill set when it comes to implementation. However the aims of both disciplines intersect ultimately: that of prompting a user to complete an action. Organic search is to some extent anarchic, so if you want to make a page rank for a targeted keyword, shouldn’t every page of your site also be a landing page?
This post is essentially one of those “what if..” types of moments, where a passing thought coagulates into something a bit more and a blog post is born, so this is an alternative perspective on how I have viewed landing pages up until now. I imagine there will be views contrary to mine and I’m keen to see what other people think about the current profile of landing page optimisation in the comments.
Anarchy In The UK (And The SERPs More To The Point)
Despite our best efforts, optimising for search is a forever evolving game. It is only testament to the amazingly open community sharing their insights, that so many of us make a living from digital marketing.
With all the best will in the world, there are sites out there that rank for keywords without that being the original intention. The algorithm that we’re not chasing in the slightest (!) is made up of hundreds of elements and filters that change periodically as the gamekeepers tweak and refine it in their own search for the best search results.
As a result site owners have a struggle to ensure the right pages rank for the right pages. With time and a focussed strategy, pages can be optimised to rank for an intended keyword. However when you look at the next best pages of your site for that same keyword, it becomes a more disparate picture.
The rule of thumb is result number one for a keyword will account for around a third of all traffic that clicks through from SERP to web site. Run a “site:www.yoursite.co.uk keyword” search in Google and look at the results. Firstly does the page you hope rank number one for the keyword? If so, great. Now the next best pages…are these the pages you expected to see? And how do these pages account for traffic for your targeted keyword when you analyse them on Google Analytics?
Standing At the Crossroads of SEO & PPC
It can be trite to say that SEO and PPC, despite being so different, work together hand in hand but it is true when you consider that the end goal ultimately is to get visitors to your site to undertake an action. The destination you intend your visitor to happen upon via your carefully crafted and targeted advert should be a page with enough compelling information, enticing offers and reasons to click/sign up/buy (delete as applicable). That page is clearly defined in PPC parlance as a Landing Page. Here lies the disconnect. To some extent SEO seems to stop at getting people on site and ought to take a leaf out of PPC best practice and do something with that visitor, after all this isn’t meant to be an ego trip. Traffic stats alone, does not a business make. Traffic is vanity; profit is sanity so the saying might go…
But why should this be the case? If a landing page is rated for its keyword relevance but also inherently incorporates conversion elements then shouldn’t that apply to all the publicly viewable pages of a website?
Conversion is king, more so than volume of traffic. Make increases in conversions and you need not necessarily increase traffic for your site to become a more valuable sales tool. Keyword ranking performance is now a difficult metric to obsess over. Regional variances in keyword rankings, make meaningful use of ranking positions tricky as well as Google’s reluctance to let their users data be set free from the (not provided) prison in Analytics.
How Can “Contact” Or “About” Pages Be Landing Pages?
I can see there is an argument for excluding certain pages from the red mist of conversion mania. Typically Contact or About Us pages exist as a reference point rather than a sales tool. But I think there is an opportunity here too. Quite clearly, user intent is to gather further information, should they navigate to either of those pages and the ideal action would be to convert them socially either eliciting permission to gently show your wares via your shiny Facebook/Google+ or Pinterest profiles. Or just get them to commit to keeping up with the joneses by signing up for your email newsletter, Tweets or Facebook page updates.
Get More Value For Money From A Web Page
It’s reasonable to assume that a site owner can’t optimise every page for every keyword they have identified as crucial to their online presence. So I’m not sure “How many keywords should you target on a Landing Page?” is the question to ask at this stage. “What can I get out of a landing page?” might sit better. Step back from just keyword focus and think about what other site value signals you can demonstrate from a search engine result.
Take the page from four angles: meta data, where you target the money term; on page; where your secondary terms add depth and quality to your content. Anna provided a list of great advanced segments to help find the golden nuggets from Google Analytics here.
It presents a great opportunity to deploy structured data where you ensure business specific information such as local optimisation gets the emphasis it needs by incorporating location (why stop there when product and reviews are there for the taking) detail in similar way that ad extensions can be positioned in Google AdWords. This three pronged approach should see you able to target your page for three elements; primary keyword, secondary keyword and structured data.
Lastly, landing page optimisation, conversion rate optimisation or just-getting-them-to-do-something-isation, call it what you will, needs to make the efforts of your SEO work worthwhile by getting some business in.
The key elements of success are clarity, position and a compelling call to action.
And with all of these elements, regular review and testing of position, text, colours etc..will provide the insights to help take your site forward.
It stands to reason that converting all pages of your 30 page site into landing pages is not going to be a realistic task for everyone. But just like writers concentrate on making every word count and boxers want to make every punch count, site owners need to make sure every page pulls it’s weight in some way.
If you’ve tried and tested landing page optimisation tactics feel free to chip in. If you’ve a site or seen a site that effectively is a site of landing pages, do share, it’ll be great to see it in practice.