SEO Landing Pages: How your peers optimize for traffic and conversion
Every marketer is trying to find ways to tap into the traffic-generating beast that is The Google to drive conversions. Or, so I thought. You can imagine my surprise when I cracked open the new MarketingSherpa 2012 Search Marketing Benchmark Report – SEO Edition and found that just 51% of marketers use SEO landing pages.
And yet, 93% of marketers are using keyword/keyphrase research. Which tells me that marketers are spending a lot of time, energy and resources to drive traffic to a general site, homepage, or other page that isn’t specifically optimized for conversion. Hey, traffic’s great, but a man’s gotta eat.
So why aren’t more marketers using SEO landing pages?
Well, according to MECLABS Research Analyst Kaci Bower’s report, 54% of marketers found SEO landing pages to be very or somewhat difficult (that number hit 92% among marketers only in the Trial phase of SEO). And for good reason. I like to think of Google like the Federal Reserve, as Ben Bernanke once described himself, they are always “purposely vague.”
In essence, there is no scientific process to SEO, it’s mostly trying to figure out what the man behind the curtain is up to. So while we can’t remove all the mysteries that make SEO difficult for you, we can help you determine how to optimize the conversion on SEO landing pages in a way that lessens the chance of messing up an already high SERP ranking, or starting from scratch and creating a page with good SEO potential to begin with that you can also test and optimize to make sure it doesn’t generate traffic, but also converts that traffic.
So in today’s Web clinic at 4 p.m. EDT – SEO Landing Pages: How we achieved 548% more conversions without damaging organic rankings – MECLABS Managing Director Dr. Flint McGlaughlin will share our discoveries about optimizing SEO landing pages to help you overcome some of that difficulty.
Our focus will be more on LPO and less on SEO tactics. And, our goal is to help you determine the basic search engine optimization factors to consider when building a landing page, but mostly how to take all that traffic you can get from Google, Yahoo!, Bing and the like, and turn that into revenue, leads, and donations.
But before we share our discoveries, we asked your peers their top advice about SEO landing pages. Here are a few of our favorite responses, starting with the in-depth, very helpful first response …
LPO and SEO are perfect complements (with a few exceptions)
In my experience, they complement each other when both are done well, whether looking at it for a B2B or B2C website. Only in a few unique situations can they appear to be at odds. (I’ll mention a few examples and solutions below.)
Before I get into the “unique situations” mentioned above, here are tactics I’ve seen for conversion optimization that also, by nature, lend themselves naturally to great on-page optimization:
- Multiple paragraphs (or even more!)of professionally-written copy is both good for conversions and optimization. Search engines love targeted content, and when this content is well-written by a professional (and the page is designed well), a longer page consistently and easily out converts a page with low amounts of content/copy.I see this happen every time, especially over pages that follow misguided “best practices” that focus on limiting copy to just a few bullets and a headline. The key is that the copy is written by a professional copywriter. This results in copy that actually pushes people to convert, thus increasing conversion rates while providing great, targeted content for the search engines.
- Having multiple pages that are each targeted to specific subjects is better for both conversions and SEO than having fewer, less-targeted pages. Google loves showing pages that are exactly related to users’ search queries, and conversion rates increase when users are presented with a page that’s exactly about what they’re looking for, too.
- Clear headlines that both engage the user and are relevant increase conversion rates and SEO.
Okay, there are a few circumstances where SEO and conversion optimization can be at odds. These almost all have to do with using dynamic content to improve user experience and site usability.
It’s important to consult with a professional SEO expert in situations like these in order to find the best middle ground. Here is one example of how to balance SEO and conversion optimization for an issue caused by dynamic content:–
For large e-commerce websites, many category pages (like “pants” or “watches” for example) have entirely dynamic content on them so that new products and/or best selling products are featured.
Unfortunately, often in order to make it engaging for the user, the products that are displayed are image heavy and each listing includes very little text. This encourages users to click on specific products and allows for easy browsing (i.e., conversion optimization) but ends up creating a page that’s essentially blank for the search engines since they can’t even see much of this content.
In order to remedy this situation, I’ve had the client write multiple paragraphs of content, including headlines, underneath all of the listings on each category page. This content may deal with the history of the products, or simply include some best practices for choosing the best item, for example.
This strategy creates on-page content that the search engines love while maintaining a focus on the user by still allowing for dynamic, browsable content displays. Often, mixing both the dynamic elements with targeted text-based content on the page is a good balance.
Focus on landing page optimization
The way I see it, LPO should be your main focus. If you are truly creating relevant content on your landing page, the SEO portion should fall into place.
Of course, you will need to follow the rules of SEO and optimize the content and promote the page through best social and PR practices, but you shouldn’t have a problem. As someone mentioned before, testing should be a standard procedure here.
The other thing to note is to not make SEO and LPO too technical. Make sure you understand the needs of your target audience. The relevancy of content and the offer will be critical in getting that conversion. The strategic parts of marketing are just as important as the technical ones.
– Robert (RJ) Hagel, Marketing Associate, Fontis Solutions
Get people to the door, and then open it up
The balance you speak of will be a natural outcome if your SEO and LPO work together.
SEO gets people to your door. LPO opens that door and greets them efficiently and effectively. They should work in a complementary manner, in the same way that advertising ought to bring people to a brick-and-mortar store, good-looking curb appeal will bring them in – then it’s up the sales staff to make the customer go ahead and buy.
– Erica Friedman, Social Media Optimizer, Yuricon