The landing page, in terms of SEO, went out of fashion.
Landing pages, which tended to be mass-generated, near identical pages pointing to one money page, became a target for the search engine spam filters.
However, the type of landing page we should take a closer look at is the type of landing page used in PPC - a page carefully crafted to lead a visitor to desired action. SEOs can benefit from applying the same techniques used for creating effective PPC landing pages to their organic pages. After all, we all want visitors to arrive at our pages, and take a desired action.
All Search Is About Connecting With People
Our pages may rank well, but if the visitor doesn't do something that ultimately leads to more money in our pockets, our sites won't last long.
In the past, ranking well has led to a pre-occupation with factors like keyword density i.e. repeating keyword phrases often.
However, the search engine algorithm's are no longer quite so stupid. The need to slavishly repeat keyword phrases in order to rank pales in comparison to other factors. It's no longer necessary to forsake good copy writing in order to please machine algorithms.
To make our rankings work for us, we must connect with people. This means our pages must talk their language and focus on solving their problems.
A fail in SEO is not missing out on the #1 ranking. A fail in SEO is a visitor clicking back. Do everything to avoid the back click.
Talking People's Language
People couldn't care less about you or your company.
People care about themselves.
Take a look at your pages. Do they talk about you, or do they talk about your audience? For a page to work well, it must connect with your audience, and the easiest way to do this is to talk about their wants and desires. If a page doesn't grab a visitors attention, they won't persevere, they will click back. What's a #1 ranking worth if visitors click back?
Here are a few guidelines on how to grab a visitors attention:
Title Tag Text Should Match Your First Headline Or if not matching the phrase exactly, it should be close to it in terms of topic. This reassures to the searcher they are in the right place.
A Search Is Invariably A Question Keyword terms often aren't phrased as questions, but they are all questions. When people type "buy DVD online", they're really saying "where can I buy a DVD online". Try to determine searcher intent. Decide what the visitors question is, repeat it, then answer it.
Create A Clear Call To Action - what is it you want the searcher to do next? Sign-up? Buy something? Click on Adsense? Make that action clear and obvious.
People Scan - Use big headings. Often. If you're vague about visitor intent, you can use a number of different headlines, or images, that grab people's attention in case your lead hook fails.
Use The Word "You" A Lot - it's all about them. Their problems, their sense of self, their language, their wants and needs. Relegate all the stuff about you, unless they specifically ask for it, or you're using testimonials.
Every Page On Your Site Is A Landing Page
Every page on your site has potential to pull in visitors.
Even if a page only receives one visit a month, it's still a landing page. Given that SEO strategy involves building a lot of content, it's easy to think of "junk" pages low down in your domain structure as unimportant.
However, if people land on those pages, then that's half the battle won. Those pages will be winners if they lead people to the pages you want them to see. Therefore, every page on your site should contain a clear call to action - leading visitors to the one thing you want people to do.
The Difference Between SEO Landing Pages & PPC Landing Pages
In PPC, the page must be tightly controlled, stay on message and lead a visitor to desired action. Failure to do so means blowing through money.
With SEO, we have more leeway. We can include a variety of text content on pages, as it increases the likelihood of catching long tail phrases. This casts a wider net, and at negligible cost. However, we still need to structure the page well enough so people a) won't click back and b) will take the desired action.
It's a good idea to structure a page so - rather obviously - the most important stuff comes first. Make the call to action, wherever it is placed, clear. Relegate superfluous text, which targets long tail variations, below the fold and/or into side links.
Most likely, a few pages on your domain will be doing the gruntwork. Most of your visitors will come in on your home page, or a small collection of well linked pages on your site. Pay careful attention to these pages. They should be as crafted as tightly as a PPC landing page in terms of language and call to action.
Test these pages. Are they converting? What is the abandonment rate? Whilst it can take a while to test and alter SEO pages, it's worth doing, as incremental gains on a few pages can lead to huge changes when rolled out over an entire site.
What happens if you make a heading bigger? Paragraphs shorter? Reposition page elements? Change the language and pitch? You can also test these variables using a short PPC campaign, of course, and then roll your findings into your SEO strategy. Once you've got a winning formula, you can roll it out to every page (landing) page you create.
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