AdWords & Pay-Per-Click Tip: Use a Custom Landing Page

When you pay for an AdWords ad, or an ad on the Yahoo or MSN search marketing networks, it’s a good idea to use a custom landing page. What’s the most important feature of a custom landing page? Arguably, it’s that the keyword that triggered the ad appear on the web page the ad takes you to.

This may seem obvious to some readers, but I’m always surprised to find major players in the online marketing space – real estate websites, in particular – that fail to apply basic search marketing techniques – like using custom landing pages with keywords placed in obvious locations.

Here’s an example. The following is a real AdWords ad:

Find a Loft in Seattle WA
Search for Condos & Lofts
Using Seattle’s Top Real Estate Search
www.TheMLSonline.com

This is a well-written ad: compelling, to the point. “Top Real Estate Search” sounds great. If I’m thinking of looking for a loft or condo in Seattle, this ad will catch my eye and might make me click.

But there’s a serious problem: no custom landing page.

Instead of taking me to a page that is set up so that I can easily find a loft or condo in Seattle, I’m taken to the generic home page of The MLS Online Seattle (http://sea.themlsonline.com/home ). The words “loft” or “condo” are nowhere to be found. The word “home” is all over the place. Are “home” and “loft” or “condo” synonymous? No way. Even if they were synonymous, “loft” and “condo” are keywords in the ad, so they should be displayed prominently on the landing page.

Custom Landing Page Not Used by MLS Online
The AdWords ad above takes you to a generic MLS Online home page, not a custom landing page. The appropriate keywords do not appear, and it’s hard to find a loft or condo, which is why you clicked on the ad in the first place.

What’s even worse than the absence of the right keywords is that if I want to search for a loft or condo on this page, I have to scroll down to find and select the right menu options in order to do so. I don’t even see “loft” or “condo” in the menu options. Confusing! I don’t have time for this.

I guarantee that MLS Online is losing visitors immediately from this page because the page is not tailored to the people who are clicking on the ad.

But who has time to make custom landing pages? Well, I found a 4-bed, 5-bath, six-thousand-square-foot condo on this site that’s listed at $13,495,000.00. You would think MLS Online would be willing to spend 30-40 minutes customizing a landing page if it enabled them to sell that puppy!

Of course, one of the real strengths of pay-per-click and related forms of search marketing is that you can measure your results. Is it worth the time it takes to create a custom landing page? Go ahead and create one and send half of those who click on your ad to that page while sending the other half to the generic home page. Now you can use basic analytics software like Google Analytics to find out if people who go to the custom landing page are more likely to “convert” – fill out a contact form to request more information, download a brochure, pick up the phone and call (using a custom 800 number), etc. – or not. Simple as that.

Any good search marketing consultant will tell you that there are about five basic things you need to do to get the most out of your AdWords or Pay-Per-Click advertising dollars. Custom landing pages are near the top of the list.

Comments: 4

AdWords™ Keyword Quality Score Linked to Landing Page Load Time

The importance of landing page load time for positive user experience is widely acknowledged. People don’t like to wait for web pages to load. Given the choice between a quick-loading page and a slow-loading page with similar content, people will naturally prefer the quick page — even if it’s only a subconscious part of their experience on a site.

Google AdWords now gives website owners one more reason to take this seriously: AdWords Keyword Quality Scores now include landing page load time. Hence, advertisers whose landing pages have long load times will pay more for keyword bids than those with faster-loading landing pages.

For more, see Google AdWords Help article “How does load time affect my landing page quality?” Thanks to Web Pro News for their post on this topic.

Comments: 2

Google AdWords™ Not Working For You? Maybe You're Not Treating It Right

It’s a common misconception that setting up a Google AdWords account and scribbling a few ads together suddenly creates website visitors beating a search-path directly to your door, generously purchasing your products and services. After all, using a tool like AdWords is simple, quick and leads to immediate success, right?

Wrong. Because in fact AdWords is not a tool. It’s a relationship.

Now that kind of terminology is bound to make some people race for the door, but I’ll explain what I mean by taking a look at three aspects of using AdWords where businesses sometimes come up short.

One: Make a good first impression with your AdWords text ads.
Your AdWords text ads are like a blind date for prospective customers: they’ll know immediately if they want the relationship to go any further. To build a relationship, create ads that specifically target their needs – rather than generic ads that attract large volumes of unqualified leads clicking through and costing you money.

Let’s say you run a meat delivery service. Which of the following examples of ad text do you think would bring in better, more interested customers who were ready to buy:

• Meat delivery – shipped right to your door.
• Tired of flowers? Send steaks, ribs and chops today!

While the first piece of text is vague and non-specific, the second addresses a more particular need that your customer may have – to find a unique alternative gift. The second statement also utilizes specific keywords to further advance your message.

And remember: Your AdWords campaign should be split into multiple ad groups, each with its own specific keywords. That way you’ll be more closely aligning the content of your ads with the specific needs of your customers. If you only have one ad group, you can’t possibly address all of your prospects’ various wants and desires.

Two: Your landing page tells a lot about the commitment you’d like to make.
Mark got into this in his last post (What is a Landing Page?), but it’s important enough that I’ll make a finer point of it here. A common mistake made by companies who misuse AdWords is that they’ll set up ads with lots of carefully-chosen keywords, but they’ll only link those ads to their website’s homepage. It happens like this: your customer reads something specific in your AdWords ad, and clicks on it believing that your site will immediately address a need they’ve got. But when they reach your website, all you give them is your homepage, where they have to search further to find what they want.

And then they leave. You’ve lost them because you didn’t commit to the relationship.

Link your ad to a landing page specifically created to address the promise you’ve made in your ad. And if you’re really trying to build a relationship, don’t use that landing page to immediately force a sale. Get to know them instead – gather their information through e-newsletter subscriptions or RSS feeds. And give something back, such as free downloadables, tips or resources. Take your time and cultivate the relationship. Your AdWords investment will pay off in a big way when you finally make a sale because you’ll have created trust and confidence instead of angling for a quickie payoff.

Three: The best relationships are in it for the long haul.
Too many businesses set up AdWords accounts and leave them alone, believing that the ads will work their consumer magic with little or no additional effort. The truth is, AdWords campaigns need attention. Your ad groups should be tested and revised as needed; keywords that aren’t performing should be eliminated and new ones brought in; you need to measure your landing page analytics to see where your new visitors are coming from, what they’ve searching for and what they do when they reach your website. If they’re not converting into paying customers, why aren’t they – and what can you do to fix the problem?

Your AdWords relationship can pay off big benefits for your business – but it can’t do it alone. You need to approach the creation of an AdWords campaign with a commitment to be involved. To listen. And to put in the necessary work to ensure a successful union of advertising and customer response.

Alan Lopuszynski
McBuzz Communications LLC

Comments: 10

What is a Landing Page? Google AdWords Tip

A landing page is an important feature of any online marketing campaign, and this includes a Google AdWords campaign. A landing page is a web page designed to be the first page a site visitor sees when they come to a website through an promotional link or URL — whether that link is a Google AdWords text ad on a search engine results page, or a link in an email newsletter, or a special web address that appears in a direct mail piece or other print adverstisement, or whatever.

Google AdWords ad landing pageWeb marketers use landing pages because, when used correctly, they dramatically increase the likelihood that a site visitor will “convert”, or take the desired action on a website. Not all landing pages are created equal. The most effective landing page provides — as much as possible — exactly what the visitor is looking for when they go to the site from an advertisement or promotional link.

The key to a successful landing page is the fit between the language and feel of the ad or promotion — the way it “positions” or represents a product or service — and the language and feel of the landing page. This is where traditional ad copywriting skills come in handy. Do you want to attract someone who is looking for general information, or someone who is ready to buy now? That sort of thing.

In a Google AdWords campaign, your first task is picking keywords that make your ad appear on a search engine results page. Picking keywords is a topic for another post. Your second task is to create one or more text ads. Doing these two things, and giving Google your contact information and a credit card number, is all you need to do to start giving Google your money and waiting for the visitors to begin pouring into your site. Unfortunately, it is not often this easy — at least not the “pouring into your site” part.

Give some thought to what someone who clicks on an ad headline expects to see when they come to your website. The real key is to find ad language that appeals to the right kind of site visitor or prospect. It should be tied directly to the keywords that you are choosing. Here’s an example. Consider the following two searches:

“wordpress business websites”

“wordpress business website”

They differ by one letter, and yet the difference is huge.

Someone searching for “wordpress business websites” is, more than likely, looking for general information about business websites created using WordPress. Someone searching for “wordpress business website” is, more than likely — and because there is no such thing as “The one and only WordPress Business Website.com” — looking for a company or web developer that can build a business website powered by WordPress software. Which one of the two is more interested in purchasing a website?

If I want to use AdWords to sell business websites powered by WordPress, I will get better results showing my ads to people who search for “wordpress business website” than to those who search for “wordpress business websites”. And my landing page should be tailored to someone who is looking for a web design company or web developer, not to someone who wants to read about the different uses of WordPress.

The beauty of Google AdWords and Google Anaytics is that they can be integrated — so that they work together to track the effectiveness of every ad and every landing page you use — and you can test to confirm beyond a doubt that differences in the effectiveness of keywords, ads and landing pages exist. This is literally information you can take to the bank.

Comments: 8