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Landing pages are heavily used to attract customers to where you want them on your website: the sales payment page being the ultimate objective for most ebusinesses. Like everything else in life, there are right ways to go about creating a landing page and a million wrong ways. Creating a good landing page is vital because this is what many first time users are going to see of your web presence, and you cannot afford for it to be the last they see of you!
Here is our simple, 7 –step program to creating a landing page which works:
Step One: Identify the USP
Every business and product will have a USP – Unique Selling Point. Your USP may be you are the cheapest company in your zip code for your product or service, provide the tastiest food, the coldest beer, the fastest, the cleanest, the loudest, the closest, the “whatever” you do which sets you apart from the rest of the competition.
A USP will usually be combined in your primary headline, but it may be relegated to a secondary headline where you already have a short and sweet headline. A good example is this one from Amazon:
“Earth’s Biggest Bookstore”
Step Two: Briefly Outline Benefits
Your USP headline attracts attention, but now you have to satisfy the customer’s initial curiosity. You should have ONE paragraph, using BULLET POINTS to answer this question from your customer, “Why do I care this product or service?”
You are outlining benefits here – what will this product do for your customer. For example:
We are the cheapest which means you save money – GUARANTEED!
You get the best quality – GUARANTEED!
We deliver next day nationwide which means you don’t have to wait – GUARANTEED!
Go back and edit this paragraph continuously until you have just bare bones, so taking line one:
We’re the cheapest so you save money – GUARANTEED!
Step Three: Use a Picture
This is known as the “Hero Shot”; think the cowboy in the Marlboro ads or the hunk in an aftershave campaign or the smiling couples for Viagra commercials. They show the product in use, giving context which either forms an empathetic connection with the customer or appeals to their aspirations.
Typically, the hero shot will be a photo, but it can also be diagram showing where the product fits into an existing problem which is typically experienced by your target market readership, or it may be a chart showing where you rank with the competition (top!) or a simple graphic selling a number, e.g.” 50% OFF!”
Step Four: Set the Context of Use
Context of use is important, and this is closely related to step 3 and the Hero Shot. Context of use provides the user with “real life” application; for instance, if you are selling a beverage, show it being drunk – if its beer, show it being drunk in a bar; if it’s champagne, show it being drunk on a yacht on a blue sea.
Obviously photographic imagery and video are excellent for doing this, but you can also invoke context of use by displaying a client list or by using testimonials.
Step Five: Get the Customer’s Information
Ask for the user’s email and/or contact information – this is extremely important for all landing pages, but it is especially vital for landing pages selling to other businesses (B2B). In this instance, a landing page’s primary objective will probably be lead generation and unless you gain the contact information, you fail!
The best way to get contact information is to ask for it, typically providing some freebie or promotional pricing for a limited period. Use a privacy statement too – this enhances your professionalism.
Step Six: Provide a 2nd Chance Safety Net
Not every visitor will turn into a converted lead or sale and you will experience a substantial number of users who are interested in you but not ready to buy now. Provide them with a second chance to do business with you, known as a safety net, and this can take many different forms:
Add a button for the user to subscribe to your Facebook profile, Twitter feed or other social media presence you maintain;
Offer to email a reminder;
Offer a freebie download such as a whitepaper; or
Bookmark the page.
Step Seven: The Call to Action
This is the ultimate purpose of the landing page – the final act you want the user to perform and at some point you have to ask them to do it. The call to action may be to buy your product, it may be to complete a survey, to navigate through to a sales page, to pick up a phone and call your sales team, to add themselves to your email bulletin…whatever it is that you want the user to do before they leave the landing page.
“Meet the World’s Best Browser” and immediately below is the download box for the Firefox browser
“Things Mac” placed immediately above a download box and a “Purchase: Buy things Mac now” box
“NCover helps .NET teams all around the world deploy applications with fewer bugs” and placed below is a download box with an offer in it, “Download NCover – 21-Day Free Trial
Google already had the most user-friendly analytics program (you are using it, right?), and now they have added even more features to this wonderful and free tool. Yes, Google Analytics is free and it is invaluable in helping you understand your website’s traffic. You can find more videos showing off these new features, but I have included my favorite below which shows off the new motion charts in Google Analytics.
One of the most common complaints of Twitter is that one doesn’t have enough time to spend keeping up with their Twitter accounts. They are to busy doing more important things, such as reading our Blog or the “ranked hard, SEO comic“.
Now I can’t blame them for that, but for the rest of you Non Twitter Time Takers, a new solution is made especially for you.
@ShannonCole has come up with TwitResponse an application that allows you to “pre-record” or “pre-type” your twitter messages and have them scheduled to appear to your Twitter Followers at predetermined intervals in the future.
The program is in BETA but works extremely well. The description from their page reads “Twitter + AutoResponder = TwitResponse!
Setup unlimited messages to be delivered to your twitter page when you want. Need a message sent 2 hours from now, no problem, setup a TwitResponse.
Having a product launch, upcoming seminar, book release… Setup a TwitResponse to automatically notify your followers.
Make sure you register to see the full effects, and then Twit me in advance, something, in the Future to @bigebiz.
Psst.. You might want to Add @ShellHarris to that list, he may not figure it out right away that your message was “pre-typed” but that’s half the fun of Twitter.com isn’t it?
Pssst…. Chris just joined in as well Catch him @BigOakChris
SEO Question: I am already ranking well for my targeted keyword phrase in Google, so should I also start using Google Adwords so I have the the top Adword ranking and the top organic ranking?
SEO Answer: This is a question we get a lot and the answer is always the same. If the ROI is worth it, then do it. If you are making more money by using Adwords with an SEO campaign then it makes sense. Running Adwords will not affect you SEO work postiviely or negatively so do not let that be a factor in whether you do it or not.
In fact, using Adwords while your SEO campaign builds is even a better idea. Also using it to test some keywords is a great use for Adwords. After all, you don’t want to rank for keywords that won’t convert into sales or clients. Adwords can test this for you rather inexpensively. Remember to watch your Adwords CTR and set up a conversion testing method.
One concern I can offer is to watch your sales and make sure you aren’t stealing from yourself. Obviously both methods, Adwords and SEO, will bring traffic an sales but if too many sales are coming from Adwords that would naturally be coming from SEO you may be shrinking your profit margin. Test this by dropping your ad for a time and watching your sales. Do they remain consistent? Ditch the ad. Do they drop? Put the ad back up.
In the end the decision to continue your Adword’s campaign should be based on actual traffic data.
We have a few clients that sell products that are not labeled as “cheap” but they are considered inexpensive. The problem is very few people do a search for the term “inexpensive”, they usually use the search term “cheap”. But you don’t want to put the word “cheap” in the text so you hope the search engines will figure out the semantics if you use word similar to “cheap” such as “inexpensive”. So I went to the online site http://thesaurus.reference.com and was very surprised to see the amount of advertising on the site and in some cases how far off that advertising was.
Of course every one has the right to earn a living and capitalism is the fuel of our country, but there has to be limits to the commercialization of a website, especially one that is an academic website, or so I thought. But even if you allow the number of ads they have displayed, the sneaky way in which they try to trick you into clicking is reprehensible.
If you click on the image to the left (view it larger) you will notice that the advertisements are the first links you will see to click. Luckily in the subject matter of text ads the ads themselves were so far off from my search term (Homemade Jerky showed up for a lookup of the word “cheap”) that I didn’t click them by accident. But I did additional searches and could have easily been fooled. Some of the ads actually had the clickable ad link read, “Synonyms For” which might lead an unwary Internet traveler to click it.
I’m certainly not idealistic enough to believe that advertising on the Internet will go away or even believe it should. Too many people feed their families and make their living through Internet advertising. No, I’m simply saying a website owner should take responsibility for the ads they show their audience and the consider the number of advertisements on the page. At some point, too many ads make the website in question extraneous, extrinsic, immaterial, impertinent, inapplicable, inapposite, incidental, inconsequential, insignificant, marginal, moot, nonessential, peripheral, pointless, tangential, unapt, unconnected, unessential, unimportant, unrelated, wide of the mark…well, you get the point.
Update: 4/20/08, Of course as soon as I post on my blog about Alexa’s inaccurate ranking system they decide to update their system. Time will tell if it is an better.
SEO companies are at the front lines when it comes to educating customers and potential customers about what is important when looking at web statistics. I guess I’ve hit my breaking point, which is usually when I start blogging, about Alexa rankings. We have clients that ask why there Alexa ranking is so high (which is bad) and even though they are ranking in the top 5 for their most treasured keyword phrases. They have high traffic that is converting above their industry standards, but still they Alexa ranking rears its ugly head too often.
So I want to put this issue to pasture and definitively state that we do not care about Alexa ranking and do not monitor Alexa rankings, other to see estimated trends for pure entertainment value. They are of little importance an not worth the time to view them. Not only are the extremely inaccurate, but they can also give a false sense of security when they inflate your importance. You must remember that unless you have the Alexa toolbar on your site, your web visits won’t be counted in the Alexa stats. What does this mean for the numbers that Alexa shows you? Well, think about who would have the Alexa toolbar installed: mostly people involved with Internet marketing such as SEO people, webmasters, consultants and other people whose job it is to track statistics. These aren’t your normal site surfers and they skew the traffic numbers higher for Internet-related sites. If you have been reading this blog long enough you know I’m a big believer in actual case studies and real data to prove a point. To that end I have done some research to show the Alexa Ranking Myth and break its spell.
The first chart shows stats from Alexa for this site (BigOakInc.com, a Internet marketing site) and a smoothie recipe site (Smoothieweb.com, a non-Internet related site) and you can see that Alexa shows the Big Oak site with more than double the traffic of Smoothie Web. If you were to view or stats on Alexa it reports our site as being in the top 100,000 sites on the web, specifically we are ranked at 94,204. My, aren’t we so important! Now,don’t get me wrong, we have a nice number of visitors, but to think we are in the top 100,000 sites is a bit much. While SmoothieWeb.com, a highly trafficked site is only ranked at 310,192.
Now that we know what Alexa is reporting, let us look at actual site statistics as reported by Google Analytics. If you look at the graphs below you can see the dramatic difference from Alexa’s reported rankings in traffic over the same 3-month period. BigOakInc.com has 20,311 visitors which is a very respectable number for a B2B site. But when compared to SmoothieWeb.com’s 210,190 visitors you can easily see that Alexa rankings are highly skewed towards technical and Internet-related websites. SmoothieWeb.com had 10x the visitor traffic according to Google Analytics but less than half according to Alexa’s estimates.
The BigOakInc.com site obviously pulls traffic from our competitors, webmasters in charge of finding a honest SEO company and research types for our informative SEO blog. And these users are more likely to have the Alexa toolbar installed, if only to inflate their own Alexa ranking by visiting their own sites daily. And before you ask, no, I do not have the Alexa toolbar installed and neither does any of the staff at Big Oak.
To sum up, do not look at Alexa rankings with any more than an passing curiosity, for that is all it is. Instead look at your site’s analytics and try to see where you are getting traffic and what traffic is converting. Look at the keywords your site is ranking for and how the visitors from those terms are using your site. In short, look at all the data you can around your actual visitors and leave the estimated numbers based on a toolbar installation to those who need the ego stroking of a high Alexa ranking. And if anyone asks you about your Alexa ranking, please refer them to this post.
Dr. Peter Carr is a long-time reader of our blog and I have corresponded with him previously. He has done quite well performing his own SEO tactics to his Seattle Chiropractic site. He was gracious enough to write this post about his success with local search rankings. I wrote a similar blog post on posting reviews last year.
I am a small service business, (chiropractor, to be exact) and I really only make money when people come through the doors. I perform many SEO tactics for my website www.dynamicclinic.com to the point where I’m #1 for Google searching for “Seattle chiropractor”. But people don’t come to chiropractors because of an organic #1 ranking, they come because of referrals. That’s where I’ve found that companies like www.Citysearch.com (a Ticketmaster company), www.Judysbook.com and www.Yelp.com come into play.
People (customers) want to go to hair stylists and chiropractors because their friends go there, and barring that, they want someone to say they like them.
Citysearch is a better bet in my opinion, as they have linked with Google to add their reviews on Google Local, which gives customers a map to the business location and number of ratings. I’m no expert, but it seems like only Judysbook and Citysearch do this.
Google local is trying to get in on the act, too, where people can leave reviews right on Google. Google prefers you leave your ratings and reviews with them directly.
The bottom line for SEO is this: Search engines exist to give the end user the BEST result for their search. If the search engine doesn’t, then people will go somewhere else. Yahoo accomplished this using humans “back in the day” to review individual sites, and now Google is doing something very similar, as well, with these review sites. After all, Google would love to refer you to the best chiropractor in Seattle (me) and have you be happy with their recommendation. Reviews provide that opportunity much better than, or at least more “humanly,” than any algorithm that Google could possibly come up with.
To that end, I request that all my patients who had great results with my service leave a glowing review on Citysearch or other review site, so that others can see how awesome we are. If you are in a service-oriented business, this is one area you simply can’t overlook in your SEO campaign.
Hmmm….I wonder what they are trying to rank for? Sadly, it is working somewhat. When searching for the term ‘house painter Alexandria’ they show up as the #3 result in Google (1/31/08).
I thought posting this was appropriate considering Will’s post about keyword stuffing domain names. So until Google quits ranking spammed domain names I guess it will be a viable option for ranking, although I’m doubtful the conversions are very high. I personally think this is a SEO mistake.
Anyone have anything to share concerning conversion with these types of domain names?
What are the costs and benefits of having keyword-rich domain names?Does having the keywords you wish to rank for in the domain name really give you an advantage over your competition?All things being equal, yes.But before you throw down $7.95 on www.hotel-rates-in-bangladesh.com, consider what your goals are with the domain.
High rankings are great; “brandibility” is better.A catchy domain name will increase brand awareness and is worth infinitely more than a domain name picked solely for SEO, especially if it’s difficult to remember and loaded with hyphens and underscores. The ultimate goal should be to have a domain name that is both catchy and filled with your keywords.When this isn’t achievable, you should pick a domain name based on how memorable it is.You can still attain domain names with keywords shoved in them and either redirect them to your primary website or use them to market your main site.
One advantage to having keywords in your domain name is that you don’t have to worry about using targeted anchor text when building links.This can come in handy in your quests to parse links on high PageRank pages that do not allow the use of anchor text, such as Digg comment pages.Links without targeted anchor text always look the most natural to Google, but be forewarned that rapidly link-injecting your keyword-rich domain name across sites like Digg will look unnatural in the eyes of Google and will not help you in any way, shape or form.
While acquiring a domain name for branding purposes reigns supreme, if you have an opportunity to snatch a keyword-rich domain name, do not hesitate to grab it and use it to push the agenda of your primary domain.
A few months ago I wrote an SEO tip explaining why you don’t want to use ‘click here’ for SEO, but we also know conversion rates increase when visitors are instructed to ‘click here’, ‘read more’, ‘buy now’ and so on. What is an SEO company to do?
How can search engine optimization and good user experience coexist? Both are important to the success of your website, but at times they seem at odds with each other. The solution is very simple, if not well known. Use the “nofollow” tag on the ‘click here’ links and make sure you also have a descriptive link with keyword-rich text available as well.
While the “nofollow” tag was originally set up as a spam fighter, it can be used with surgical precision to increase conversions, without hurting you SEO campaign. (Read more about the uses of nofollow) It helps because it will tell the search engines not to count or follow the link with the nofollow attribute. This means the keyword-rich link, without the nofollow, will be followed, helping the destination page’s link popularity.
How do you use nofollow?
<a href=”http://www.site.com/page.html”>Click Here</a>
Adding the nofollow attribute:
<a href=”http://www.site.com/page.html” rel=”nofollow”>Click Here</a>
This is a niche SEO tip, but if you fall into the category of those who resell products and are going against many other competitors selling the same item you will find this extremely valuable. If the manufacturer supplies you with the product description then it is likely that many of your competitors are using that same description which means you may be devaluing your product page because the search engines see your product page as duplicate content. Or your page might not even show up as Google would consider your site duplicated material not relevant enough to make the cut due to lack of popularity when compared against other sites showing the same results.
Here is a perfect example of how duplicate content can hurt your site rankings and your traffic. I picked a random child’s toy: Turbo Twist Math by Leap Frog. I did a search using the manufacturer’s initial text in the product description (“Be a Math Whiz with Turbo Twist Math”) and here are my Google search results. If you visit the link you will see only one result with the following text underneath:
Google is telling you that this description is used so often that they are only showing you one result. You must expand the list to see other results which is still only 6 which could mean they are not even including the dozens or hundreds of other similar listings in the results. This is an extreme case since I’ve searched for a specific phrase, but the theory still applies: Duplicate content will hurt your rankings.
You will have a much better chance of showing in the search results if you add your own unique information about the product you are selling or the service you are providing. This is good for SEO but also for better converting potential customers. Feel free to interject your own opinions or thoughts on why the product is useful and include information your visitors might be wary to know. Anything you can write of add to distinguish your product information from other sites will help.
This SEO blog is provided by Big Oak SEO, a SEO Company. Most blog posts are related to search engine optimization, short reviews, SEO tips and increasing site conversions. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call 804-741-6776 to see how we can help your company. More