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

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 ( ). 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


This is a great article on this topic. Definitely a custom landing page is the way to go. Thanks.

Great article – real life examples always work best for me.

I am just getting into the web; I have a word press site that I have spent considerable time building. Learning new (at least new to me) ideas and techniques all here in one helpful place is really… well, helpful!

I will definately bookmark this site and I will return here often. Thank you for helping me to help others.
Douglas Leadbetter M.Ed.

@Douglas @Morgan and @Michael
Thanks for the kind words!

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Mark McLaren

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