Smart marketers use landing pages.
Why? Because they get more conversions.
Landing pages focus visitors’ attention, which makes them more likely to take the action you want them to take. In fact, there’s a loose rule in conversion rate optimization: The fewer the options a visitor has, the higher the conversion rate goes.
But I bet you knew all that. It’s why you’re already using landing pages.
You probably also know – all too well – that landing pages alone don’t generate business. You have to send traffic to them.
You can pay for traffic to your landing pages. Via pay per click ads, or display ads, or any other kind of advertisement. Or you can drive traffic to landing pages by offering a link to them near some content, like at the close of a guest blog post or in an ebook.
But what about search engine traffic? Can you drive free search engine traffic to landing pages?
You sure can. Attracting search engine traffic to a landing page isn’t all that different than attracting search engine traffic to any other page. There are some specific considerations, but it’s not rocket science.
First, you’ll need to understand both “on-page” and “off-page” SEO.
On-page SEO is all the stuff you do to the landing page itself to help it attract search engine traffic. Like adding a title tag, or using keywords carefully throughout the text.
Off-page SEO is … basically everything else. Like building links to your page, or even increasing the social proof for your landing page.
I’m going to focus mostly on on-page SEO here. Just make sure that any off-page SEO you do for your landing pages is done according to SEO best practices. For instance, don’t buy links, and avoid link farms. Pay attention to the quality of the traffic you send to your pages.
For the details on how to maximize your off-page SEO, see our ebook, “Your Most Common SEO Questions, Answered.”
Back to your landing pages. Here’s what you should focus on to get the most search engine traffic possible.
1. Obsess over your title tag and meta tag description.
This one little suggestion has a bunch of implications. On the surface, it’s pretty simple: Just make sure the title tag and meta description on your landing page are unique and optimized.
These tags matter because they’ll be the only thing users see if they happen to come across your page in the search results.
Here’s what I mean. This is, as you know, a search listing. Here’s how the title and meta description tags show up:
If those tags are left empty, Google (or Bing) will usually just grab something off the page to fill the fields. But that’s not at all what you want. The copy in these tags is super important. It affects whether or not people will click through to your page, so you need to think of it as if it were ad copy.
Optimizing these two tags is possibly one of the best ways to increase traffic to your page. Actually, I recommend you check out a new tool from SEO star Brian Dean. He’s figured out how to split-test title and meta tags. It can result in significant increases in traffic.
So you get why these tags are so critical, right? The next question is, what do you put into them? Obviously, you’re going to want to get some keywords in there. And that’s the next super-important thing about these tags, and about your landing pages in general:
The keywords you pick for your landing pages will, in part, determine how successfully those pages perform.
Now, you’ve probably heard that the way search engines understand keywords has evolved over the years. We’re now encouraged to think of keywords as more like topics. But that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for choosing the keywords for your landing pages. In fact, keywords are possibly more important for SEO landing pages than for blog posts or other content pages.
Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be hard. We’ve got a good section on choosing keywords in our ebook, “How to Make Any Content SEO-Friendly.” Here’s an excerpt from it:
Pay particular attention to the “searcher intent” column. This idea of search intent is extremely important in SEO right now. It’s also extremely important to you and effects how you should build your landing pages.
Always be thinking about what your target visitors might be thinking. What do they really want to know? What do they already know – or not know? For instance, are they new to the topic, or experts? Is this a topic they’re enthusiastic about, or scared of?
This dovetails nicely into the next most important way to optimize a landing page…
2. Make the content on your pages match searchers’ needs.
We get so focused on optimizing for search engines, sometimes we forget about people. So this point is all about people. It’s about writing your landing pages for people, but even before that, thinking through the strategy of your page… your page’s intent, as it were.
Landing pages are fundamentally about persuasion. We want our visitors to
- A) decide we’re trustworthy enough to listen to in the first place, and then
- B) be swayed enough by our presentation to take the action we recommend.
That’s the job of your pages’ content. It also influences how the search engines view your page because search engines now pay A LOT of attention to user behavior. They track bounce rate, for example. And time on page. And scroll depth. And whether a user clicks on anything or not.
All that behavior is shaped by the content of your page.
Don’t believe me? Then here’s proof: “Relevant content creation” was named as the most effective search engine optimization tactic by the marketers surveyed for Ascend2’s 2016 “Search Engine Optimization Survey.”
This principle is so important that we’ll see it again in later points. But for right now, just understand this (the quote is from our ebook, Your Most Common SEO Questions, Answered):
3. Make sure your landing page is mobile-optimized.
Most Internet traffic now comes from mobile devices. And Google favors mobile-friendly pages. So, make sure your landing pages are mobile-friendly.
Don’t just look at them on your phone and assume everything’s okay, either. Click around. Fill out the form. Try to share it. Get other people to try to use the page. Even on older phones.
It may seem like a pain, but this is far too important to overlook. Besides… you went through all that work to get these people to your landing page. Why drive them away simply because they’re on a mobile device?
4. Make sure your landing page loads quickly.
The general rule is that any web page has to load in two seconds or less. Any slower than that and you’ll start losing some of your audience. But for landing pages, try to beat even that high hurdle. Your conversions will go up.
New research from Ahrefs confirms that page load time affects rankings:
5. Make sure your landing page is marked up well for SEO.
This is super basic, yet sometimes people miss it. So make sure that:
- Headlines and subheaders are in <H1> and <H2> tags.
- Images use “Alt” tags with related or page-specific keywords.
- You use bullet points and bold words where appropriate.
- You include at least one image on the landing page.
6. Consider adding a video or a simple interactive assessment tool.
Why? Because bounce rates matter for search engine optimization. And because they’re even harder to manage on a landing page.
As you probably know, one of the definitions of a “bounce” is that someone goes to your page directly from a search engine, then doesn’t click on any other pages on your site. They just go right back to the search engine listings.
This can be a sign that a page did not solve the searcher’s problem or answer their question. But if you’ve got a landing page, someone may just turn back because they didn’t want to engage with your call to action. Either way, you’ve got yourself a red flag with the search engine, which may respond by eventually suppressing your page in the search results.
Adding a video and/or a simple assessment gets around this by either keeping people on the page a bit longer, or by getting them to click something on your page.
In the case of the video, if you make it play automatically, you might get more people to stay on the page longer (which is in and of itself a good thing). If you don’t make the video play automatically, but you have an interesting enough cover slide, you might get them to click to play the video.
With the assessment tool, you might get your visitor to interact with it a bit. They still haven’t converted in either scenario, but you’ve gotten them to engage just a wee bit and you’ve avoided logging the visit as a bounce.
Keep in mind that this concern with bounces (and these two solutions) would also apply if you’re driving pay-per-click traffic to a landing page.
And one more thing … there’s more than videos and assessments to get people to click. A simple quiz, for instance, might work.
7. Add a comparison table.
This is just another way to reduce bounce rate. But it’s an even better way to just give visitors the information they want.
Comparison tables are great for visitors. They let them see what they really want to see and help them make smart decisions.
Of course, if your product doesn’t measure up well to its competitors, a comparison table might make you nervous. If that’s happening, you have a bigger problem than this landing page you’re working on – your product itself needs help.
In one sense, every page on your site (or anywhere else) is a landing page. But in another sense, these super-targeted pages are unique. Their whole job is to focus the visitor’s attention and make them take the call to action. If the visitor does anything besides that, well, you’ve lost the conversion.
So a landing page is almost like a magnifying glass. It focuses attention, and if you’re lucky (or good), you’ll focus that attention enough to get people to act.
In the case of search engine optimized landing pages, you’re just adding a few extra features to make it easier for search engines to understand your page, and to show those search engines that your page is useful… which is not that different from what you’d do on any other page.
Back to you
What’s your favorite trick to optimize landing pages for search engine traffic? Share it in the comments.