Google searches are a powerful gateway directing customers to your website, and the first page they encounter after following a link – known as a landing page – can greatly influence their decision whether to stay or navigate away.

What is a landing page?

When a user visits your website, they will “land” on a pre-defined page that serves as the entry point for that website.  There are 2 basic types of landing page, a click through page, or a lead generation page.  A landing page that acts as an entry point, will persuade the visitor to click through to other pages on your site to increase traffic and hopefully influence your visitors purchasing decisions.  A lead generation landing page on the other hand, is used to collect data from visitors before they continue their journey around the website. This could be in the form of promotional offers in return for email subscriptions or a sign up page.  A landing page plays an important role in the way that visitors are able to navigate around your website.

You don’t get a second chance to make the first impression, the old saying goes. Its main point remains true if we are talking about online promotion, since the first page that the visitors arrive to after clicking on a Google-delivered link has an outsized impact on the performance of the entire website. Its impact is actually twofold – it determines how high your link will appear on the search results page and it also greatly affects the bounce rate (percentage of users who leave the site promptly right after landing). The final goal is to improve the conversion rates, of course, since the probability to close the sale goes up if a large number of potential buyers finds your website and sticks around for a while.

Despite all this, a huge number of website owners never lend serious consideration to organisation and optimisation of landing pages. Preparing and implementing an online campaign is hard work, and it can come undone because of a simple oversight that leaves the landing page out of tune with general SEO efforts. To avoid such a failure, you are well advised to learn the basics of landing page optimisation (LPO) and think how to apply those principles in practice.

What pages can be a landing page?

Just to be entirely clear, a landing page is not technically different from any other page on your website. It’s simply the one you pick to present to the crawlers and real visitors before anything else. In some cases, homepage or product category page can be used for this purpose while in others, a separate page should be designed to welcome visitors and assist them with finding whatever they are looking for. True difference can be felt on the level of content, which needs to be clearly presented and highly instructional in order to support sales.

In a sense, landing page is your shop window that should entice the strangers to enter and browse your merchandise. This real-world analogy may not be perfect, but is a good reminder that the basic objective is to sell, not to impress. You need to think hard and long about the objectives of your campaign and decide whether an existing page can be used or you need to come up with something new.

What to look for when creating a landing page

Obviously, it can’t hurt if the page looks good. However, it would be a mistake to focus only on the aesthetics and forget all about functionality and discoverability. The first thing to consider is which users are expected to be interested and to select keywords and metadata very carefully based on your primary target groups. Pay attention to match the actual content of your website with the highlights placed on the landing page, or otherwise you might risk damaging your Google rank and alienating some users who felt disappointed after visiting the site.

In terms of user interaction, landing page is the bridge that leads the user towards the next step. Efficient and logical layout is a good place to start – nothing fancy, just key info placed in strategic positions to educate and inspire. One element that must be included is so called Call-to-Action (CTA) button, an active link that allows the user to perform the desired action.

Why optimisation matters

Well, this is pretty simple. It doesn’t matter how great your offer is unless people know about it and they will only learn about it if it pops up high on the results page after a relevant search. Given that a lot of people use Google search to assist their purchasing decision, it would be more than wasteful to ignore this channel or allow it to underperform because of poor landing page optimisation. This is an inexpensive way to get the word out and attract new customers, provided you are able to convert online traffic into tangible and sustainable sales figures.

There are two major ways to boost your conversion rates. You can either target users that are more likely to make a purchase, or invest extra effort to motivate any customer to give your product or service a try. Not surprisingly, having a well-optimised landing page helps in both respects. If the links to this page are appearing in the right searches, your average visitor will be a person with an organic interest in your offer. Add a well-pitched offer delivered in a user-friendly format to the mix, and you stand a decent chance to win another customer every time your link is displayed.

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