Last week I read a thoughtful article about landing pages. It was about the need to stop picking the landing page details apart thinking they matter. Button color? It probably doesn’t matter if it’s orange or green as long as it stands out.
Nope, it’s not always about aesthetics, but it is always about standing out. A green button won’t stand out on a green background or with a lot of green around it, but an orange button will.
The article covers three essential elements of a landing page, the first two being persuasive copywriting, and conversion-focused design. These two are fitting and I completely agree with them, but the last one I’m skeptical of.
From the title of this article, you can probably tell what that is. I don’t mean to say landing page search optimization doesn’t matter at all, it does! I’m only saying that it’s not essential, just a good thing to do much like all other web pages. If you’re not sure the difference between a landing page and web page make sure you read this article to brush up.
Strategic On-Page SEO
There is some importance to search engine optimization but I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s essential. Basic optimization of a page for search engines is important for all pages, but the chances of a landing page ranking for any meaningful search term is minimal (or at least it should be!).
Most landing pages are going to be found in three ways by users:
- A link within the same website.
- An advertisement such as Adwords ads.
- Guest blog posts.
Landing pages aren’t typically built for anything but converting people which means you’re either selling them something or giving them something in exchange for some information (so you can sell to them later).
There is a mismatch between most landing pages and the goal of a page that will rank in a search engine: providing the user what they’re looking for. That doesn’t mean the landing page can’t answer a searcher’s question, though. It’s unlikely because the information is probably behind some sort of gate.
If a user has to enter information to get what they’re looking for, the landing page isn’t answering their question.Gated content isn't directly answering a user's question and is at odd with the purpose of Google. Click To Tweet
So that rules out paying special attention to SEO on your landing page aside from a few things which I’ll cover.
Optimizing A Landing Page
Optimizing a landing page should have different goals than ranking in a search engine. The goal of optimization should be to make sure it at least shows up properly in search engines and on social media. It’s also important to optimize the landing page for search terms being used in advertising IF advertising on AdWords.
Here are the optimizations that are essential, I used the article mentioned above as a framework but this focuses on essential vs important:
- Friendly page URL: This should be done on all web pages, nothing specific to landing pages here.
- Title tag: This, like the URL, should be optimized like all web pages. It should especially include the keywords you’re advertising with in AdWords (that ensures they are bold in the results and helps increase the quality score).
- Headline tags: This can be optimized for search but it’s more important to optimize it for conversion.
- Keyword placement: This can be helpful for optimizing to increase your AdWords quality score but pay closer attention to the copy, not keywords.
That’s about all you should pay attention to when optimizing a landing page for search, but there’s already enough to pay attention to so this is a good place to spend less time.
To Optimize Or Not
In some cases it may be a good idea to optimize your landing page for search engines. This will help you determine if you should spend the time.
Here’s how you can tell if you should optimize your landing page for search or not:
If websites want to link to your landing page because of the awesome information it provides (not gated information!), then you should spend time optimizing it for search engines.
If nobody would link to your landing page without incentive, you probably shouldn’t bother optimizing beyond the basics I mentioned above. Those optimizations are usually for a different reason than search engine optimization, though, more of an AdWords optimization.If your landing page provides a direct answer to visitors questions, optimizing it may be worth it. Click To Tweet
Align With Google
What it all comes down to is simple. Determining if your landing page is aligned with the purpose of Google will help you figure out whether to spend a lot of time optimizing for search or not.
Google’s purpose is to organize the world’s information, but that’s not it. The real purpose of Google is to give relevant and timely answers to its users. If your landing page provides a relevant and timely answer to a specific answer (defined in your keywords) then it syncs up with Google’s interests. If you’re trying to create a self-serving page to get business only, it’s going to fail in the eyes of Google and probably the users too. Even a landing page can be turned bad if done the wrong way.
If you’re aligning your pages and landing pages with Google’s interests, that means you’re adding value to users. That also means you’re creating content that people will probably want to link to and refer to.
Landing pages are extremely useful and important. They have a place in converting visitors but they aren’t usually a good candidate for thoroughly optimizing for search beyond AdWords optimization.