In this edition of #ThrowbackThursday, I'm jumping way back to September 2010 to the topic of landing page planning, although I didn't specifically call it landing page planning back then.
Planning your landing page long before you need to use it is an important part of a successful online marketing strategy, but before I get in too deep of how to help with the success, let me just briefly explain what a landing page is.
What is a Landing Page?
There are two points of view to define what a landing page is...
When you think about marketing, a landing page is the specific page, or website address, that you include in your ad. Sometimes the ad uses a domain name, sometimes a shortened URL, and sometimes a special domain name that will be redirected to the appropriate page for the ad. This special landing page has all the information that the customer will need to guide their purchase decision.
When you think about general website tracking, a landing page is simply the first page someone sees when they visit your website. Website visitors click over to your site from many different places like Google, Facebook, Twitter, or someone's blog. Usually all those links bring people to your home page, which is why your Landing Page report in Google Analytics will always show your home page as your most popular landing page.
Landing Pages for AdWords
The amount of money you spend on your Google AdWords ads is directly tied to how good your landing page is. AdWords has something called a Quality Score, which they assign based on how closely related your ad is compared to the information you have written on that landing page. A landing page about diamond engagement rings would have a high Quality Score if it were paired up with an ad about diamond engagement rings, but that same landing page would have a low Quality Score if it were paired up with an ad about pearls.
Setting up a really good landing page takes more than a day of work to think through. There's a lot of work that goes into finding the right images, writing the correct associated copy, and figuring out how exactly what type of call to action you will use.
Once the landing page is created you can pull quotes from it to help write your AdWords ads. This strategy should lead you to a higher landing page Quality Score, and therefore a lower cost for the ad clicks.
Landing Pages for Other Marketing
Every ad you use should always have a dedicated page on your website, unless the ad is for brand building, in which case you would just send them to your home page. Just like with AdWords, you should plan your landing pages before you plan your actual ads. You can load as much information as you need into your landing page, and then carefully select the most important highlights for the ad. This process works for print and online marketing.
Most landing pages will include a lot of information that might be found elsewhere on your website, but that's okay. If your ad is successful at convincing someone to visit your website, you might only have a few seconds before they decide to bounce away. Therefore, that landing page must include all the relevant information about your offer so they don't have to go looking for it somewhere else. This even includes your address and store hours.
Most of the time, you will not need to include your landing page in your website navigation, or on your sitemap. Because landing pages include so much repeated information, someone browsing through your website might be confused if they find it in your general navigation.
Landing Pages for Special Announcements
This last type of landing page I'll explain is what I mentioned in the original #TBT Nugget year ago. This is a special page that mentions a new product, a specific date, or a service that you are not going to announce to the public until a certain date. This could also include a sale. The idea is to create the landing page with all the details of this special announcement, but do not include it in your website navigation until the time is right, however, you would include it in the sitemap.xml file that you give to Google.
If you plan this early enough, you'll achieve ranking for those pages when people start searching for those pages. One example would be a page you dedicate to your "Black Friday Jewelry Sale." You don't have to include prices until the week of the actual sale, but if you give enough time for Google to index the page it should appear when people search locally for "black Friday jewelry."
Another example is a little more relevant for today, which would be a "Valentine's Day Jewelry Gift." I realize that the holiday season is a crazy time of year, but that's exactly when you should be planning and creating your Valentine's Day landing pages, which should all be built and online by the first week of January. That would give Google 1 month to find and index them before those pages become important. Remember that you would not have to add those pages into your navigation until mid or late January, and people probably won't start searching Google for "Valentine gifts for her" until early February.
Landing page timing is everything. Every scenario I mentioned above required a lot of forethought and creation of the landing page long before it would be needed. And that's the bottom line of today's Nugget, you need to plan your landing pages early in order for them to be effective. Landing pages are not an afterthought.