How to Optimize Your Paid Search Landing Page

A paid search ad campaign will bring more visitors to your website, but a great landing page will convert them to real leads.
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Draw customers into your website with a clear vision for your landing page. (Photo: filborg/Shutterstock)
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“It’s incredible how many businesses waste hundreds to thousands of dollars on ads that have completely different text in the ad than what’s on the landing page of that ad.” -Allen Burt (Photo: Allen Burt)

So, you are ready to invest in a paid search campaign for your small business. Your budget is set and your keywords and geographical target area are selected. But before you launch your campaign, it pays to create the perfect landing page.

If you build it right, sending users to a landing page specific to your ad campaign is more likely to capture those leads — and convert them to paying customers — than sending them to your website’s homepage.

“Landing pages for paid search are far more important than other online marketing campaigns,” said Sean Martin, content marketer at Directive Consulting, a California-based agency. “They are the pages that are directly linked to your ads, so you want them to be optimized for conversions and not just clicks and bounces.”

Here’s how to optimize your landing page to get as many conversions as possible.

Use a headline that aligns with the user’s search intent

Your headline — the first thing a visitor will see on the landing page — should closely reflect the message of the ad. If not, you’ll be losing money.

“A landing page from paid search must reflect the search intent of the user,” said Allen Burt, CEO of Blue Stout, a Portland-based company that builds and manages ecommerce sites and applications. “It’s incredible how many businesses waste hundreds to thousands of dollars on ads that have completely different text in the ad than what’s on the landing page of that ad.”

If the headline doesn’t clearly and accurately reflect the message of the ad — the reason the user clicked on it in the first place — visitors are more likely to move on, which means you’ve lost a lead and increased your cost-per-click.

Noted Mel Cagle, a paid media strategist for Portland-based digital marketing company Anvil Media, “To keep costs manageable, a paid search landing page needs to have a clear purpose and match the expectation set by the ad copy and the keyword.”

Keep the messages and visuals consistent

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“Your landing page copy should be consistent and easy for your customers to understand.” -Duane Brown (Photo: Duane Brown)

Ensure that the user’s “journey from search to your site is smooth and not broken,” said Burt. “If they are presented with a completely different image than what they clicked on, the user will recognize a ‘break’ in their purchase journey and will be more likely to bounce.”

Keep your message simple and to the point. Duane Brown, who manages paid search for landing page builder Unbounce, said going into too much detail or including too many links can be distracting. “Your landing page copy should be consistent and easy for your customers to understand.”

An effective landing page should also be consistent with your overall brand messaging. “If your landing pages are filled with special offers and discounts that aren’t offered on the rest of your site, people will start sniffing the spam,” said Directive Consulting’s Sean Martin. “Not only your traffic will drop but your bid prices might go up due to the lowered quality score of your landing page ad.”

Include a crystal-clear call to action

Make your goal for the visitor very clear. “You have to tell people exactly what to do,” said Burt. “Specificity is key. The more specific you are, the more likely you are to convert.”

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If you have a call to action (CTA) on your landing page make sure it doesn’t ask for too much information, says Diane Ellis Scalisi, growth marketing lead at CanIRank. (Photo: Diane Ellis Scalisi)

Including too many or overlapping calls to action (CTAs) can confuse the user and backfire.

If your CTA requires the visitor share contact information with you, less is better. “Don’t ask too much too soon,” advised Diane Ellis Scalisi, growth marketing lead at CanIRank, a keyword difficulty and SEO competitive analysis tool. “For all you know, the ad the visitor clicked on to get to your landing page may be the first time they’ve ever interacted with your brand.”

Asking for too much information on a form can scare potential customers away, so “make it easy for your visitor to say yes to your CTA by making small asks.”

Test different pages

In marketing, you must experiment to know what will move the needle with your audience. Create two versions of your landing page, varying elements such as the headline or the color of the CTA button, and do A/B testing to see which performs better overall. Google Adwords and tools like Google Analytics can show you data on numbers of sessions, bounce rates, goal conversions and more.

Unbounce’s Duane Brown is a huge proponent of continual experimentation. “The key is always figuring out what information your customer needs to make an informed choice to buy your product or service.”

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