In May 2020, Google announced that page experience signals would soon be a major factor in search ranking. This meant that search results would be informed, not just by the quality of content presented on a webpage, but by the quality of experience delivered to visitors on that page.
If you’ve read our piece covering Core Web Vitals, then the image above might look familiar. In that article, we looked closely at the first three factors. Here’s what the final four components mean.
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Most of your desired audience carries mobile phones in their pockets, it makes sense that delivering content effectively and efficiently to such devices is paramount. Google prioritizes mobile pages that render optimally on smartphones.
Safe Browsing & HTTPS
Safe browsing and HTTPS are essentially trust indicators for users, telling Google that (a) this website does not house malicious or deceptive content, and (b) that it has a valid encryption certificate. This means the page is actually what it claims to be, and your communication with it is secure.
No Intrusive Interstitials
When I first heard this unusual word, it reminded me of Stevie Wonder’s classic, “Superstition”. If we could get him to sing “Very Interstitial”, that would sound awesome, right?
Interstitial is a fancy word meaning annoying pop-ups. This factor means Google will like your page more if you don’t have any.
So Google wants users to have safe, well-engineered experiences when navigating to a site from their search results. Building pages according to these guidelines helps in the quest to better organic rankings and the accompanying higher quality traffic.
This is the crux of righteous SEO. And while getting eyes on your site is thrilling, it isn’t everything. Converting those visitors matters most.
Is Landing Page another name for Home Page?
Some people think these are synonyms. They are not.
Here we are speaking about conventional websites, not single-page sites. True, the first page a visitor often lands on is the site’s Home page. Other times when a person lands on a different page, they navigate over to the Home page.
The Home page should broadly touch on what you do, and how that beautifully addresses a need people have. The page should pique interest and provide straightforward navigation around the rest of the site.
Because it’s what most new visitors to your website will see, bombarding with calls-to-action right off the bat is rarely effective.
Chances are they don’t know you well enough yet to make the leap to a sale.
The goal at this point is simply to be interesting enough that the person keeps scrolling – reading, clicking, tapping – interacting.
Once they’ve done this for a minute or two, your visitor will have evolved into a potential customer; one step closer to becoming a lead.
So what exactly is a landing page?
Our own definition of a landing page is super simple – any webpage that somebody lands on. They clicked on something and landed on a page.
For example in Google Analytics, you can inspect the Landing Pages. These are the pages people landed on initially when they came to your site. They may have come directly, from organic results, paid results (including display), email, or social media.
What you do at this point decides how many of your visitors convert into sales, or how many true leads you generate, depending on the profitable customer action that you’re trying to get your visitor to perform.
Facilitating Landings | Knowing your Lead
Making the most of your leads depends heavily upon where the user is landing from, as it plays a role in determining the visitor’s state of mind when they first arrive.
Our examples up to this point have dealt with a hypothetical visitor who navigates to your website via organic search. This is just one avenue; it’ll help us to understand the alternative if we break down the characteristics of this user into traits. They, the visitor, will be:
Impartial – They arrived at your site as a result of them deciding to click whichever search result was populated by your site’s information on the search results page.
Informed – If your user was searching for something, chances are they know in general what they’re looking for, if not exactly what they’re looking for.
Relaxed – Because they’ve been led here through unbiased sources, (the search engine), and they have a need to service, the customer will take their time looking through your site, so long as it stays relevant to their need.
What these three broad characteristics entail is a potential customer who arrives at your door with an open mind and the desire to make a deal. Your job in designing the customer journey is to keep them interested; by presenting yourself as functionally sound and emotionally compelling.
The idea is to weave a story while also consistently outlining the benefits of your product or service. You can expect the user to visit your competitors’ sites as well since they’re informed about the problem they want to solve. You need to distinguish yourself from those competitors; not just as a product, but as a brand.
This brings us to customers that arrive at your site via inorganic means. More as a result of your SEM (Search Engine Marketing) than your SEO. Perhaps you’ve been running a social media marketing campaign, and your Facebook ads have just started reaching the right people.
The user clicking through to your site via a PPC ad is very different from one who arrives at your site organically. They’re:
Impatient – They want to know why your site is worth their time, and they want to know it right this second.
Partially informed – They weren’t explicitly looking for a solution to some problem. Maybe your ad just piqued their curiosity or reminded them of some prior need that wasn’t as pressing.
Partial – They know you’re looking to sell them something, or get them to do something, and so their guard is up.
These users are prepared to bounce away quickly, so you have less time to entice them to stick around. They clicked an ad, and they want to know exactly how you’re going to deliver on what the ad promised them.
Where your organic visitors will give you a few minutes (a lifetime in internet terms), these customers will give you only a few seconds. Where your organic visitors will allow you to bank on the material contained in your entire site, these customers will judge you solely on that single web page. The consequence of this is a considerably shorter customer journey, to help the person see that they actually do have a pressing need and that you should solve it.
Building the Landing | Curating Conversions
The importance of a landing page as an instrument to drive sales should be clear by now. But what makes a good landing page, and what does a good landing page do for you?
While the contents of a landing page typically vary quite a bit depending on the type of landing page you opt for, (more on that later), there are certain overarching common traits that all good landing pages should have. These include:
Concise, poignant content
Remember how certain pages on your website are built to inform? Well, this isn’t one of those pages. There’s no room for long-winded explanations or unnecessary fluff. Every word on this page should be written to fulfill a purpose. We’re talking about a clear value proposition right up there in the banner, something that immediately and explicitly tells the viewer what you bring to the table. You want your benefits in neat, easy-to-read bullet points, you want stellar testimonials from previous clients. Most importantly, you want a call to action that’s impactful and linguistically consistent with the ad-copy or search result they clicked on. Integrity is key, especially for the ad-clicking visitor.
Efficient design elements
As with your content, you don’t want design elements clashing with or overwhelming each other (no dark text on dark backgrounds!); this hurts visibility and readability. You want the key parts of your page to naturally call attention to themselves. This can be done through effective design choices such as picking the right color scheme, sizing your text appropriately, and positioning it the right way. You want your call to action to be accompanied by a button or a slider, something clickable, that entices the user to interact with it.
Effective form fields
With exit popups possibly poised to take a hit with the upcoming Google Search update, scheduled to roll out in June (“No Intrusive interstitials”, remember?), the significance of your forms has never been greater. They can be the centerpiece of your landing page if you’re just looking for people to give you their emails. Or they can be a means of recovery as a lead realizes your product isn’t for them and is about to navigate away from your site. They can also serve to give you details and insights that help you target specific demographics better if you go for a longer form.
Your form is a subtle way for users to interact with your site and give their email. Just getting a user to fill out that form can be almost as much of a conversion as a sale because it allows you to nurture them with email marketing. So, while they’re navigating away from your site today, their journey with you is not necessarily over.
Human beings are, by definition, complex social creatures. We deal constantly in social capital; we look to verify and validate our choices through decisions made by others, and we share our own best choices with people. When a brand claims, boldly, above the fold, that it “Empowers 744,937 to live their fullest lives”, this inspires trust and promotes comfort in the brand. Testimonials do essentially the same thing. Including social proof in your landing pages can help lend a human element to your brand, especially when a customer navigates to your page through an ad, and doesn’t engage with much of your other copywriting.
Types of Landing Pages | Deciding on a Perfect Fit
Okay, we’ve covered that landing pages are critical to making the most of your marketing. You get that you need different landing pages for people who arrive at your site through different avenues, and you know the basics of how to go about setting up a great landing page for your site.
But wait, there’s more!
The simply functional landing pages of the early 2000s don’t work anymore. Modern versions now are far more varied, with different templates catering to different product types, different customer actions, and different points within a site’s marketing funnel. This section provides a brief overview of the different types, ordered by their position in the customer journey.
- A Splash Page is the first landing page you’ll encounter when navigating to a site and is the only type of landing page that has nothing to do with lead generation and features little to no content. Most of the time it’ll ask you to specify what region you’re from or verify your age.
- A Squeeze Page is likely what you imagine when you think of a landing page. It offers you a free eBook, or limited access to premium services, all for the relatively innocuous ask of your email address.
- A Lead Capture Page is typically used by providers marketing a service, rather than a product. Like a squeeze page, these ask for your email, as well as other details that allow for the business to provide personalized service. These generally feature more content than squeeze pages.
- Long Form Sales Pages are centered around products and services to provide details to customers about the benefits of the respective product while maintaining a personal tone. These are the wordiest and most content-heavy landing pages, and upon success, are usually followed by a Thank You Page.
- Thank You Pages serve to congratulate the user on completing a particular stage of the customer journey. These are important for lead nurturing and servicing purposes, as they allow the business to pivot from one product to another. Most importantly, they clearly confirm to the customer that the previous step was completed properly.
- Unsubscribe Pages are what a customer sees when they choose to part ways with your business emails. These are your last opportunity to convince a customer to maintain contact with you and your brand.
Building High Performing Landing Pages
There are a lot of landing page builders out there. Depending on the type of website platform your site is built on, you can create within that structure. Or you can use a landing page builder such as Leadpages to build high-performing landing pages.
Landing pages are critical to generating, nurturing, and converting leads, and most importantly, fostering good relationships with your customers. They provide structure to your website so visitors can flow into and within your marketing funnel. By observing visitor interaction, you can learn how to improve your current landing pages and build more web pages around specific consumer goals. They’re an essential feature of the modern digital marketing toolkit and can be the difference between visitors turning away, and them becoming repeat clients.