The Best Strategy for SEO Landing Pages
Perhaps the most common missed opportunity I discover when I evaluate websites is a lack of properly-formatted landing pages. A “landing page” is any page on a website that is intended to be the first page that a brand new visitor of your website arrives on (either from the organic search results or some form of advertising). In this post, I will be discussing the best strategy for creating new landing pages.
To make the concept more accessible, let’s pretend you own a grand resort. Think of landing pages as the various entrances to that resort. Now, if you own a resort, you’ll want to put your best efforts into the main entrance, as it is the one most visitors will enter through — and even if they don’t, they’ll most likely wander into it eventually. But there are also several other entrances, and if someone happens to come in through one of those, you want them to get a good impression as well. In fact, there may even be times when you prefer first-time visitors to enter through another door because certain people will have tastes that are more suited to that particular entry. For example, if one of your entrances is through the pool area, and you know that some guests make their booking decision largely based on the quality of the pool facilities, you’ll want to send those pool-loving guests through the pool entrance. Assuming the pool area is nice, doing so will make it far more likely to get those guests’ bookings.
Your website is just like that resort. Your home page should be stellar, of course, because most people enter through it, and will probably see it at some point in their experience. But if someone arrives on your site by searching for a very specific service you offer, you sure as heck want to give them a good impression of that service. After all, you know what they’re interested in already; they just typed it into a box on Google! Now it’s your job to show them why you’re the very best at offering that specific service.
Far too often, what I see on people’s websites are pages for products or services that do a weak job of selling, and also assume that people have read their home page before arriving there. If you ever wonder why your site has a particularly high bounce rate, this could easily be the reason. People are arriving through entrances that don’t take their situation into account. To re-iterate, these folks are getting their very first impression of your website through a page that you might not have even spent a lot of time thinking about!
The situation I’m describing is so common that I’d estimate that, if you are the owner or marketing director of a company, your website has a 95% chance of suffering from this issue. What people are failing to realize is that, in a world where nearly everyone does their research on Google, a large percentage of your visitors will NOT be entering through your home page. If you have services pages, product pages, a FAQ, or any form of blogging or thought leadership, then you are very likely receiving first-time visitors directly to those pages.
So how should you be thinking about landing pages? Well, to begin with, you should know what the most common opportunities to create landing pages are. Here are the areas of a website that absolutely require a landing page strategy:
- Your Services or Products pages. Wherever you list all of the services or products you offer, it is imperative – if you care about your website showing up in Google’s search results – that you create a separate landing page for each service or product you offer. This doesn’t mean that you should, for instance, have a super-long top navigation menu, listing every service in it, but rather that you should have one neat Services page that contains a brief description of every service on it but allows the visitor to click a link for more information on each of those services, leading to a landing page dedicated exclusively to that service.
So, if you sell apples, you might have a section on your menu called “Apple Varietals.” When someone clicks on that link, they would be greeted by a page talking about how you hand select the best apples from your local region each season and listing the 5 types of apples you offer. There should be a separate heading for each of the 5 apple types and a description under each one. But after that description, there should be a “Read More” link that links the reader to a page just about that particular apple type.The reason for having a separate page is that, if a person is only searching for Granny Smith apples, for instance, Google would rather show a searcher a page that is dedicated exclusively to Granny Smith apples than a page about five different Apple Varietals that only lists Granny Smith as one of them. It just feels more targeted, and Google’s main job is to serve its searchers the most specific, targeted responses to their queries.
- Your FAQ. A Frequently Asked Questions section is practically made to be a series of landing pages. Because every question that you would consider “frequently asked” is one that people probably search for occasionally, having a page dedicated to it means that Google is likely to serve your page to one of the people searching for the answer to that question. You should list each question out on one main FAQ page, with the first sentences answering the question visible, followed by a “…” and a “Read more” that links to a full landing page all about that question – and that question alone. See the First Page Sage FAQ for a model of how to do this.
- Your blog. As funny as it might sound, every blog entry is its own little landing page. Because the majority of searches on Google are more than 3 words long (i.e., they’re research-based), it is reasonable to assume that the topics you’re writing about on your blog will be the answer to someone’s research via a Google search. Just remember to put keywords into the titles of your blog entries as opposed to writing blogs with titles like “Guess what’s coming in 2016?” that have no specific terms in them.
- Your “Industries Served” pages. While not every site has a section dedicated to each of the industries (or perhaps, the types of customers) they serve, it’s a great idea to do so from a conversion optimization perspective. Once again, you should be separating out each of the different industries into their own landing pages, even if you have one page that talks about the, say, 3 main industries that need what you sell.
No matter what type of landing pages you create, above all, remember that the meta title tag of every page needs to have keywords in it so that searchers can actually find your pages when they’re typing their search queries into Google.
Good luck with your landing pages – in today’s age of ever-more-specific Google searches, they’re more necessary than ever.
Evan Bailyn is a best-selling author and award-winning speaker on the subjects of SEO and thought leadership.