Creating Landing Page Users and Google Will Love

Melissa Fach

Jun 18, 20209 min read
Landing Page optimization

Last week's Semrushchat was super informative. Our guest, landing page experts Unbounce, and their Co-Founder, Oli Gardner, shared their insights and recommendations on creating landing pages your users and Google will love. They and our community discussed: 

Unbounce is who you should learn from when attempting to optimize landing pages. There is a lot of valuable information below that you would need to pay a consultant to get, so get ready to take notes. 

What is a Landing Page? 

A landing page is a unique web page that was carefully crafted for a specific marketing or advertising campaign. As the name implies, the internet user lands on this page when they click on a link in a campaign via email, an online ad, from a social platform, or a search engine. 

A landing page should be designed with a single goal — to accomplish one thing, unlike feature pages, for example, which may aim to educate, sell, and convert. 

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The Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Launching a Landing Page

Here is what Unbounce had to say, "Launching and building a landing page is all about getting the visitor to perform a single action, so the number one question you need to answer, and also the most basic, is: What you are trying to achieve? 

  • "What do you want the visitors to do? The answer to this should be the same as the first question, but it’s important to keep this Q top of mind because it will inform the way you place information on the page later on (Information Hierarchy)
  • “Who is going to visit my landing page?” This should be one of your campaign segments. Your LP should talk to that specific segment ONLY. If need be, create new LPs for each segment.
  • “Does the information pre-click match with the information post-click?” This is especially key in the header. We want visitors to know they’re in the right place after sending them to our LP. Read more about Message Match here.

More Landing Page Questions to Ask

  • "Who are we targeting, what do we want them to do, what copy / offers / CTA will get them to take that action, and what conversion point most easily accomplishes that conversion? It comes down to relevancy and UX - if it's relevant & easy to convert, you're gold." — Patrick Delehanty
  • "Make sure it's entirely dedicated to the marketing campaign for which it stands. Does it continue the experience started when the (qualified) SERP user typed their query, then clicked on your ad? Does it lead them to take action? Is it easy to use?" — ThinkSEM
  • "What is the single action I want my customers to take?" — Sarah Marks
  • "If I was my target audience: What content would I like to see? Can I see the most important aspects above the fold? Is it easy to navigate? - Are the call-to-actions clear? If I was Google: Is this content complete, trustworthy and authoritative?" — Itamar Blauer

Is It Okay to Use a Homepage As a Landing Page?

Unbounce: "Obviously, we have some strong feelings here. You should NEVER send campaign traffic to your homepage; there are just way too many distractions.

  • Homepages = discovery and exploration.
  • Landing pages = conversions.

When you are running a campaign, always send your traffic to dedicated LPs.

Each LP has a single objective. That doesn’t mean you only give them one option, but the main action (the one you want them to do, and the one they should do) is obvious and persuasive.

That’s not to say there is no place for the homepage in your marketing. Say you are in startup mode and launching your first MVP ever, i.e., a mobile app. You might create an LP that acts as your homepage, and that’s totally fine with us."

"The one-word answer is NSAMCWADLP. The ten-word explanation of that is Never. Start. A. Marketing. Campaign. Without. A. Dedicated. Landing. Page. << This should be your default starting point. "— Oli Gardner

Home Pages as Landing Pages

  • "Ugh, I'm CRINGING at the thought of using a HP for a paid search landing page...gross. The ONLY time I'd condone such behavior is for branded search keywords. Otherwise, if you're paying for traffic, please for the love of dogs use an ACTUAL LP. " — ThinkSEM
  • "Homepages have just too much going on, which can be distracting. In comparison, landing pages are laser-focused and easily drive people's attention toward 'what's in it for them', meaning more conversions." — Sharanya-Manola
  • "Rarely. Homepages are set in place to educate visitors on what you can offer in terms of products/services and value. Landing pages are for conversions. It's difficult to create conversions without first providing value." — Itamar Blauer 
  • "I've seen lots of SaaS single-page home pages where an external dedicated landing page would be redundant." — Amy Middleton Hebdon

Best Practices for Designing a User-friendly Landing Page

Unbounce, "When it comes to a user-friendly landing page, you will need to concentrate on 2 main things: content and Design. 

  • Content-wise: provide the information needed. You want to keep the conversation you started in your pre-LP asset (ad, banner, email, etc.) in the LP. That way, you are helping the users to take their next action. This brings us to talk about information-hierarchy – the order with which the copy on your page is presented, both in literal terms (which comes first) and in terms of the visual dominance (what stands out most). 
  • Design-wise: make the layout familiar. People like familiarity, and that makes it easier to find the information. Keep the basic sections of your page clearly visible. Use whitespace. Use secondary CTAs if needed but make them less noticeable. What about mobile? Start designing mobile-first, or even mobile-only. People don’t click elements when navigating on mobile: they touch them. Also, consider using AMP LPs to get loading times closer to zero. Your time is valuable. Your customers’, maybe more, right?"

Additional Landing Page Best Practices

  • "I would say keep out all fluff. Make sure it gets to the point and offers relevant /valuable information that leads to your ultimate goal or CTA. And of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't say a video should be present." — Olivia J
  • "Creating a minimalist design can improve user focus Images and videos can help to persuade users Identify the most appropriate color palette for your business Don't forget to design your landing page forms for mobile, too!" — Ben Austin
  • "Make sure the page answers all of the questions the visitor may have AND don’t forget to run it through a final checklist to make sure you haven’t missed anything." — Nicholas Scalice
  • "1. Fast load times 2. Short and sweet messaging above fold 3. Easy to digest selling propositions (bullet points, sections). 4. Strong and clear CTA. Let me know what I need to do when you have me hooked!" — Mark Gustafson
  • "Most users scan information. Make sure the general public can understand it and use words people can relate to. Clear structure and readability makes your page user-friendly." — Readable
  • "Keep it simple and user friendly, prioritize content and calls to action above the fold, make sure it's fast, make sure it's mobile-friendly, make sure it WORKS, have CLEAR calls to action, use social proof / testimonials, and most importantly - TEST IT!" — Patrick Delehanty

Additional Reading: Beginner's Guide: 9 Things You Should Know if You Are New to Mobile SEO and The Only SEO Checklist You Will Need in 2020: 41 Best Practices

How to Optimize Landing Pages to Boost Your GoogleAds Quality Score

Unbounce, "Direct from Google: Quality Score is an estimate of the quality of your ads, keywords, and landing pages.

  • Higher quality ad experiences = lower costs and better ad position
  • Here are our top 3 tips to get there. Convey the EXACT same message from ad to LP–remember Message Match? A consistent message is key because it tells visitors they’ve landed in the right place, and that they’re on the right path to the outcome they searched for.

Speed up your landing page’s load time if you are hit with a slow-loading page, you bounce quickly, and the same goes for prospects clicking through on your ads.

  • Using mobile ads? Use AMP LPs instead.
  • Ensure your landing page is easy to navigate!
  • If your LP is cluttered and visitors can’t find what they are looking for, they are going to bounce, which Google takes as a signal your LP isn’t meeting their needs. 

When all’s said and done, Quality Score isn’t an exact science.

Google checks often, but it may be a few weeks till you see your LP changes influence scores. But, the clearer path to conversion on your LPs, the better chance you’ll have at a good Quality Score."

Additional Landing Page Optimization Strategies

  • "Also for what it's worth, if your landing page doesn't load in less than 5 seconds on mobile and is not mobile-friendly, your @GoogleAds quality score will suffer." — Reva Minkoff
  • "A consistent experience between the ad and the landing page. Providing value through quality content to reduce your bounce rate. Use your Google search data to incorporate top keywords that are driving people to your page into the landing page copy." — Elena Salazar
  • "Make sure the ad and the LP are related, firstly. Then, look at how the page performs. What is load time? What is the overall UX? This is what Google takes into account. If your page isn't useable or confusing your ad rank will suffer." — Stevie Howard
  • "Match LP to ad text/keywords. Clear information hierarchy. Clear CTA Quality + relevant images. Compelling header. Concise. Quick to load. Credibility/trust. Easy nav." — Bentley University

The First Steps of a Landing Page Audit

  • "If you have rules by which you design, you can apply those same rules as a quality check, and see where you may have missed something. It can also give you a roadmap for optimization when you can see that you skipped or faltered on one particular principle." — Oli Gardner
  • "A LP Audit - the obvious ones first: HTTPS, Responsive, Mobile, Speed, Brand Consistency. Address the messaging, headings, and content clarity (does it speak to the audience?) with a value-added proposition? Does it have a CTA? A/B testing for paid search." — Debi Norton
  • "What's the purpose of the page? Is it for organic or paid traffic? If organic what keywords are you ranking for? What does the data in GA and heatmapping tools show you? Does the landing page have clear CTA? There's so much more." — Tristam Jarman
  • "1. What are your business objectives? 2. What are your success KPIs for your business objectives? 3. Who/what is your target market? These need to be answered before ANYTHING else is done. Can't audit anything properly w/o understanding the business." — Matt Vaillancourt
  • "When it comes to a landing page audit, I prefer to use analyzers like Unbounce itself. We are mostly using SEMrush site analyzer to get all the details from minor mistakes to meta tags to broken links to everything." — Vraj Shah

If you connect your Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts to the SEMrush Content Audit tool, you can see important data for each landing page in a quick view that you can export for reporting. The data includes for each URL, sessions, average session duration, pageviews, average time on page, bounce rate, and search queries.

You can learn more about how it works by reading The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit in 2020.

Content audit data

Do You Have Landing Page Suggestions?

If so, please share them in the comments below. We also want to thank all that participated in the chat. We will be looking for your expert insights next week. Join us for #Semrushchat every Wednesday at 11 am ET/4 pm BST.

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US Personality of the Year 2017 Winner and die-hard Star Wars fan. Herder of cats. Non-cook. Find me on Twitter @SEOaware.