Great Landing Pages Make Great Websites

LandingA landing page is the page a visitor lands on when they first come to your site. It seems like a pretty straightforward concept, one you can file away under “Got it!” and move on. But let’s take a closer look, because thinking about landing pages can change the way you think about your website, your content, and the whole internet marketing kaboodle.

Visitors don’t read your website like a book.

Very few visitors will start at what you think is the “first page” of your website (the home page perhaps?) and follow an orderly progression through to the end (the “about” page perhaps?). They may land on an interior page, look at one other related page and be gone.

Check that all of your pages include contextual information about your business, so that anyone landing on any page would immediately understand what your business is about. Each page should ideally include sitewide navigation, contact/location information, and a tagline or brief descriptive statement about your business.

Give your visitors directions about where to go next.

Say you have a website about Fruit, and a visitor lands on a page about Navel Oranges. Why not give them a clear link on that page to your page on Valencia Oranges? If they dig for it in your navigation, they could probably find it, but if you make it easier for your orange-loving visitors to find related content, they will consume more of it. That’s called “increasing engagement” and is a good thing.

Build each page around a single keyword phrase.

You could have one page for all varieties of oranges, but it’s difficult to optimize pages for more than one keyword phrase and have them rank well, especially if competition is high. Another important benefit to having separate pages built around each keyword phrase is that it helps clarify user behavior. If you have a page for Navel Oranges and another for Valencia Oranges and both are ranking well for their respective keyword phrase but you get three times as many visits to the Navel Oranges page, you’ll have a better idea of where to expand your offerings. Build each page around a single keyword phrase, and you’ll attract more visitors, understand site usage better, and give your users a better experience.

Make it a landing page, not a trampoline.

If you’ve succeeded in getting a visitor to land on your page, don’t make it so crappy they bounce right back off again. Invite them to set a spell, give them some good information about the topic of the page. I’m sure you’ve seen enough web pages that appear to have been written by alien dimwits. Don’t do that on your website. Respect your visitors. An added advantage is that the better your content, the more likely other sites will link to that page, which will improve your rankings for the keywords on that page and help the rankings of your site overall.

Think clicks.

Website visitors were born to click. That’s what they live for. Decide where you want your visitors to click on each page of your website, and make that action obvious in the text and design. If you want them to download a PDF, make sure everything about the page screams “Download PDF.” If you want them to fill out a form, make it simple, give it a big button. If you want them to look at more content, give them prominent links to that content. But they should do *something* on *every* page of your website. Otherwise, you’ve got a trampoline.

Optimize, optimize, optimize

Your top landing pages are probably the ones that rank best in search engines for popular keyword phrases (or you are doing some other marketing to drive traffic to those pages and if so, good for you). This is easy to check in Google Analytics. Just look under Content > Site Content > Landing Pages, and you’ll see a list of your top landing pages. It’s a very good idea to check these from time to time. You want to make sure that these pages are the best that they can be. If your landing pages have high bounce rates, then you’ve got a problem – or an opportunity, depending on how you want to look at it.

Google Analytics Landing Pages

If your top landing pages aren’t focused on your targeted keyword phrases, then you’ve got some search engine optimization, or some site restructuring, to do. If your landing pages are drawing targeted traffic but not eliciting the desired actions, then you’ve got some landing page optimization to do. There are books and websites devoted just to landing page optimization. The concept is simple, but like a lot of things, the devil is in the details.

Here’s what you can do now

Review your website and pick out the pages you think should be the most important landing pages. Is it obvious what you want the visitor to do on each of those pages? Are you including contextual information about your business and site on all these pages?

Now look at your Landing Pages report in Google Analytics. Pick an appropriate date range so that you have enough data to make the report meaningful. Do these pages match up to the ones you identified as the most important? Are the bounce rates of your key landing pages high?

Are there any subject matters completely missing from your landing page review? If 20% of your fruit business is about persimmons and you don’t have a single page on your site about persimmons, then you know you need to create a new page. Make it about persimmons. Make it interesting. Give your visitors a good reason to click, and it could turn into a great landing page. And great landing pages make great websites.

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