As I mentioned in my previous post, setting up a successful AdWords ad campaign isn’t as simple as just stuffing a few “relevent” keywords into an adgroup, writing an ad and putting a bid amount on the keywords and turning it all on. Chances are, if you’ve ever dabbled with AdWords before and done this (as most beginners do), you had a pretty poor result. Either your ads didn’t show up often, or they didn’t get clicked much, OR (even worse) you got lots of clicks but very few of them turned into a sale or a lead. So, one of the pieces of the puzzle is the landing page, and I thought I’d make a few comments about them, since we are (once again) designing landing pages for clients who have NO IDEA about how to make this work properly – which is NOT their fault. We’re the adwords specialists, not them, which is why they came to us for help!
1) A landing page MUST be very on-topic for the keywords and ad copy you are focussing on in your ad group. If you’re targetting wines, then pick a single product (eg. Shiraz or Riesling), create an adgroup with keywords ONLY on that topic in them, and write ads that ONLY discuss that particular wine. Finally, you want to send visitors to a landing page that ONLY discusses that particular wine. NOT to your home page or a general shopping cart page. If it’s Shiraz, then send them to a landing page that promotes the virtues of your Shiraz wine ONLY! (example link below…) Don’t confuse the issue by having 3-6 other wines featured on the same page. If you offer too many choices, you’ll not only confuse the visitor, but you’ll also increase the risk that they’ll get distracted and start wandering around your site until they get bored and leave, having done nothing. If necessary, create a stripped down version of your “normal” site pages – one where you remove ALL unnecessary links, graphics and content – and JUST focus on the topic of that 1 product or service. You will be surprised at how much more effective your results will be, compared to sending them to a generic page.
2) One of the bigger reasons for creating a custom landing page is to improve your AdWords Quality Score. To borrow from Google’s own help center discussion on the topic, here’s the most important point about QS:
Quality Score influences your ads’ position on Google and the Google Network. It also partly determines your keywords’ minimum bids. In general, the higher your Quality Score, the better your ad position and the lower your minimum bids.
The most important takeaway for you is to know that Quality score influences both your ad’s position AND it’s keyword minimum bids. In other words, if you have a high quality score for certain keywords, your ad clicks will cost less than your competitors AND rank higher, all at the same time. It should (?) be fairly obvious that high rankings and low costs for your keywords is a HIGHLY desireable situation 🙂 and the landing page is all part of this “magical” formula. So, why does a good landing page improve QS? Simple really. A good landing page is HIGHLY relevent to the search that that person on Google made, and is most likely to answer the “question” they had in their mind when they initially made that search and clicked on your ad. In simple terms, if Joe Blow was searching using this key phrase ‘buy west australian shiraz,’ and your ad popped up, and they clicked through and landed on your West Australian shiraz landing page, and subsequently made a purchase, that’s the IDEAL outcome from both Google AND the searcher’s point of view. Hence, Google will improve the Quality Score of the keyword that triggered that search, in conjunction with the landing page that helped facilitate it. Google has some general guidelines about landing page (and site) quality here: landing page quality
3) A key factor in improving landing page quality is relevence. Google has this to say about relevence:
- Users should be able to easily find what your ad promises.
- Link to the page on your site that provides the most useful information about the product or service in your ad. For instance, direct users to the page where they can buy the advertised product, rather than to a page with a description of several products.
If your keywords which lead to your ad which leads to your landing page does not have relevence with each other, you’re giving the searcher a “bad experience” and Google can and will penalise you for that. I’ve often heard this described as “message to market match,” and if the entire path from start to finish doesn’t stay relevent and congruent, you’re in trouble! Hence the need for creating individual landing pages, rather than going down the lazy (or ignorant) path of just sending everything to the home page or the shopping cart “home” page.
4) The above mentioned Google page that discusses landing page quality also mentions originality. The main reason behind this is to ensure that your site is not just a copy of everybody else’s when it comes to discussing your offerings. Google tends to frown on “duplicate content” (to some extent), and it’s not uncommon for some adwords advertisers (especially those targetting affiliate commissions rather than advertising and selling their own unique products/services) to re-use content from somewhere else to explain their product on the landing page/s. There’s nothing wrong with promoting someone else’s products (whether you are an affiliate, reseller or retailer), but Google likes to see SOME unique content explaining the virtues of the product, over and above what the manufacturer supplies. If you’re selling iPods (for example), then don’t just copy Apple’s iPod product info page into your shopping cart product description field. Yes, use what they have, BUT enhance it by adding additional commentary and suggestions to help the searcher make a more-informed choice. That way, you’re adding value, which enhances the end-user’s experience (which makes google look good, which is what they want!)
5) The last point on improving the effect of your landing pages for Adwords is the load time of the page. Google very recently introduced a penalty for landing pages which load slowly – once again, it’s all about whether the user’s experience on your site reflects positively or negatively on Google as a search engine. You can read Google’s comments on landing page load times to get an idea of what they want and expect. Keep the massive graphics, unnecessary flash files, pop-ups/unders/overs and so forth to a bare minimum, and ensure your webmaster does a little “performance enhancing” of your web server, to keep speed up and delays down. In closing, perhaps you’re starting to get a feel for the key underlining message of this post. That is, in order to get great results from Google AdWords, you need to keep google’s wants foremost in your mind with everything you do. Google relies on its accuracy and effectiveness as a search engine to keep people coming back and using it. Without its massive popularity, their AdWords program would not earn them billions of dollars a year. So, everything THEY do is driven by the desire to give the “client” (the searcher) the absolute BEST experience when using Google to search. If you, as an AdWords advertiser, are giving their clients a POOR experience, they WILL penalise you, because it’s people like you who make them look bad (no offence intended with that statement), which would reduce their popularity, which would reduce their ability to attract advertisers from all over the world. No one advertiser is important enough to Google (in terms of how much they spend per month with AdWords) that they will put their entire reputation as the best search engine on the planet at risk. Even if you spend $1 million per year, you have to understand that, while they value you as an important paying client, you’re just one of 100s if not 1000s who spend that sort of money, and if you bring them and their search engine into disrepute, they’d rather lose your business than suffer the poor impression it gives the general public. It might sound pretty harsh, but it makes perfect sense when you look at it from a business point of view. AND, the best part of all this is that you just have to follow Google’s rules and you will be rewarded with better results than those who don’t. Your ads will rank higher and your clicks will be cheaper than your competitors, and really – that’s what you want as an AdWords advertiser, right?
If you need help designing and testing high quality landing pages for your AdWords campaigns, please just complete the Contact Us form on our WCR Internet Marketing site and we’ll get back in touch with you as soon as possible. Be sure to note in the comments or enquiries field that you’re interested in an AdWords landing page consult.
White Chalk Road are a specialist Search Marketing Agency based in Perth, with over 20 years’ experience in the industry. As a Google Premier Partner, WCR specialise in SEO, Search Marketing, Advertising & Marketing Automation. WCR help Perth businesses, across both B2B and B2C markets, who need help being found online by their customers.