CAT | Landing Page Optimization

Do you have some ongoing Google AdWords campaigns that, despite being optimized, are not performing to your expectations?

Oftentimes, the problem is with the landing page copy.

To illustrate this point, let’s say we have a software company that makes a great product at a very good price. Their AdWords account has been up and running for almost 2 months. The traffic is very targeted and the quality scores are good. The ads have a very respectable click through rate.

Everything looks great except the number of conversions. Which is everything in paid search.

If the problem isn’t the keywords or their costs, then the hurdle for the users must be on the company’s landing page.

At first glance, the landing page looks good. Visually, it’s not too cluttered, which is a common problem with underperforming landing pages. On closer examination, though, the sales copy doesn’t pop like it should.

Let’s try rewriting it. Before we start, ask yourself a few questions:

1) Why should I care? – Benefits, not features! I don’t care what IT DOES. What’s it going to do FOR ME? Clearly translate the features into benefits to the user.

The first snippet of text on the landing page to rework: Custom reports are a breeze. Using our report wizard, you select only the data that you want.

No, no, no. That’s what IT does. This is supposed to be about me.

This is better:

No more pouring over spreadsheets trying to figure out how to display only the data you want, the way you want it. With just a few clicks you’ll get your data exactly how what you want it. It’s so easy, you’re going to be wondering what do with all the extra free time you have on your hands.

The user (you) is mentioned 7 times.

2) Call to action – If you want me to do something, let me know!

Currently, they have a mediocre call to action:

Try our free trial today.


We’re so sure you’re going love all the extra free time our software gives you, we’re offering it to you to try now, risk free.

3) Why here and now? Why not somewhere else?

Lets add this:

In less than 10 minutes, you’ll realize how great this software really is. Try our demo version now and when you sign up you’ll also get our report: “The Biggest Marketing Opportunities of this Holiday Season.”

The above paragraph illustrates to the user that:

1) In just a few minutes, any doubts will be answered.

2) The free report, while working as an incentive, also creates a feeling of scarcity. The upcoming holiday season? Oh, fudgesicles. It’s almost here. There might be something in there I can use. I want to find out about it sooner instead of later when other people have the information.

You’ll be amazed at how much you can increase the conversion rates of your paid search with strong landing page development.

Remember: if you’re not testing your landing pages, you might be losing sales.

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Landing Page Developement & Testing

When in the landing page development phase it is important that you follow some simple guidelines in order to receive the best results possible.

Lets take a look at what we have identified to work best for a high converting landing page.

1 – First Impression:

Make sure your landing page clearly communicates what your product or service is.  If it is unclear as to what the page is about the common browser will usually click the back button to find what they are looking for.

2 – Above the fold:

Keep all of your important information visible above the fold of you landing page.  You want all of your text, bullet points, images, and most importantly your call to action to be visible without having to scroll.

3 – Simplify Things:

Instead of long paragraphs, make bullet points with your strongest selling points short enough for the visitor to scan and make a quick decision.  The longer you keep a visitors attention the more likely they will convert.

4 – Establish Trust:

Being a reputable company goes a long way these days.  BBB Logo, As seen on the News or TV, a secure check out, and guarantees all help to establish trust.  Make sure to only use these if they actually apply to your business, otherwise your defeating the whole purpose of establishing trust.

5 – Strong Call to Action:

The whole point of landing page is to have your visitor complete a desired action.  Whether it be a Order Button or Request more Info button make sure your Call to Action is easily visible and lets your visitor know what to do next.

6 – Testing:

Above all else the single most important part of landing page development is testing.  Your job is never done when testing landing pages.  Just when you think you have found the winning formula you can always change something as little as an image or the bullet point and find a higher converting landing page.

Landing pages are extremely important for any business, especially when you are doing Pay Per Click Advertising.  Remember that these are simply what we have found to perform the best, but I highly recommend you do some landing page testing and prove me wrong.  You never know, just because a certain formula works for one landing page, doesn’t it mean is best for yours.

If you are not leveraging Google’s Ad Extensions in AdWord’s, you should take a look at why you should.

What are Ad Extensions?

“Ad extensions expand a standard text ad with one or more lines that provide additional information such as an address and phone number (location extensions and call extensions), more page links (ad sitelinks), and product images (product extensions). Sitelinks allow advertisers to include additional page links on qualifying text ads that appear on and Google Search Network partners. This extension is available globally on ads that meet our quality requirements. The most common campaigns to qualify for the Sitelinks feature are high-quality campaigns that contain keywords and ads specific to your brands.” – Google,

To access Ad Extension go to your drop-down arrow at the far end of your Adwords tabs  (which include Campaign, Adgroups, Keywords, Ads, Networks, etc..) and select Ad Extension from the 2nd check-box.

With this new tab you now have access to Phone Extensions & Site-link Extensions as well as being able to link your AdWord’s account to to your Google places (Location Extensions), Google Merchant Center/Products (Product Extensions)

For the sake of this post, we will only be focusing on Sitelinks.

Select a campaign and add a new sitelink.  You are allowed 1-10 additional links which may appear below your ad.

For Example:

Sitelink examples

(Names have been replaced with XYZ for privacy reasons)

Notice how this ad “pops” with the additional line of text and also encourages the searcher to refine their results through your ad & show direct-link related offerings.

Does it work?  You be the judge:

(May 2011)

Sitelink performance

Those are some fantastic CTR results with very little effort to create – You can even add them in the Google AdWords Editor.

Other sitelink ideas:

  • Services > Specials > Contact Us
  • Men’s > Women’s > Children’s
  • Brands > Part# Search > RFQ
  • Debt Calculator > Programs >Testimonials

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Effective Copywriting

Sales copy, or copywriting, is the most important aspect of a business that “sells” online.  Copywriting is what drives sales, and without sales there would be no business.  There are several techniques that can be used to become good at writing sales copy and increase your online conversions.

Benefit of Good Sales Copy

Now before you develop the skills to become effective in copywriting you should learn how it will benefit you and your business.

It will…

  • Increase the amount of conversions and overall conversion ratio
  • Allow you to better connect to customers on an emotional level
  • Increase the number of products sold (up-selling)
  • Earn respect from visitors and create a relationship
  • Increase sales, which will result in an increased list of buyers.  Once they have a positive buying experience they will probably come back to you the next time they are in need of a product or service.

Essentials of Effective Ad Copy

Certain phrases or aspects of copywriting trigger emotions in people that will influence them in the buying cycle.  Here are a few that are found to be effective.

  • Tell a story – Make your visitors feel connected to you by sharing a similar experience.
  • Original Content – Stand out from your competition and give you visitors what they want, not what they can find everywhere else.
  • Customer Service – Stress the customer service they will get when purchasing through you, and make sure to fulfill your promises.
  • Be a complete resource – Customers like to have their problems solved in as few steps as possible, so become a complete resource or guide them in the right direction.
  • Popularity – People are influenced by others, there is no doubt about that.  Make it known that others are raving about your product or service and it will have a positive influence.
  • Prove it – Show solid results proving your product or service is worth the time and investment.
  • Sneak Peak – Offer a trial with no risk to give them a “taste” of your product or service.
  • Exclusivity – Make them feel as if they are the only one (or few) that are getting your product or service.
  • Sell the benefits – Clearly articulate how your product or service will provide the solution to the problem that initiated their visit.

These are only a few tactics and there are many more out there for you to experiment with.  Not all tactics are needed to be effective, but using one or more will increase your chances of meeting your company goals.


What is the first thing you see upon landing on a website? That’s right, the headline.  If you have a horrible headline and amazing sales copy then kiss the majority of your customer’s goodbye.  Spend the time to really test and see what is triggering your customers to continue reading and complete an action.
Some Ideas to begin a headline with…

  • How to…
  • Discover…
  • Imagine…
  • Attention…
  • Learn…
  • How to…
  • Warning…

Call To Action

Another important factor when copywriting is your call to action.  Without a call to action your visitors are not going to know how, or what you want them to do.  You can have the best sales copy in the world but if you don’t have a strong call to action you are going to lose a huge amount of potential customers.
Here are some terms that will entice your visitors to take action…

  • Join Today…
  • Order Now…
  • Order Today…
  • Don’t Wait…
  • Buy Now…
  • Sign-Up…
  • Subscribe…
  • Become a Member…
  • Learn More…
  • Find Out…
  • Get Your Free…
  • Take Action…

Try to keep your calls to action to a minimum because you don’t want to put your visitors in a predicament of choosing between multiple actions.

Another driving sales technique are the videos. You’ve probably visited some sites recently that featured a video clip explaining why the company’s product or service is perfect for you. While some sites let you start the video at your convenience, others launch the video when the page is loaded, forcing you to either:
a. Stop reading anything else on the page and watch the video
b. Stop reading anything else on the page, find the stop button and stop the video
c. Do your best to read the contents of the page, while trying to ignore a talking head
To determine what impact automatically starting the video has on conversion, we performed an A/B test of the exact same page for a B2C lead generation site – the control was the video automatically starting at page load; the test page required the visitor to start the video.
Here are the resulting conversion rates:
Video starting automatically 9.9%
Video not-starting automatically 11.9%
The results don’t surprise me, except I would have expected an even greater difference in conversion rate between the two pages.
Stay tuned as we plan to replicate this test on a B2B lead generation site as well as an eCommerce site.

No matter what kind of product or service you are providing you should always spend a great deal of time creating your sales copy; it will prove worthwhile in the long run.

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Quality Score VS Landing Pages

I recently read an interesting article posted on by Mark Jackson – “Google AdWords Quality Score — That”s Old-School for SEO”


The driving point of this article is that Google’s Quality Score is going to be base in-part on the content of the landing page.  If you are bidding on a keyword “Big Fatty Hamburger”, you better make sure that you have a Big Fatty Hamburger content-focused landing page. 


The article implies that this move by Google is very similar to SEO where you optimize your site around the keywords you wish to show up for in organic search.  Makes sense, right?


I too was under the same impression until I asked a question to our Account Specialist….   Their response is quite interesting:

“While this could help with their website conversion rate, it wouldn”t really affect their site quality score. In its current iteration the site quality component is geared more toward demoting sites that offer a poor user experience or less than 658b (+12%), adding £487. above board business model, rather than rewarding more relevant sites. Basically, that component is either neutral or varying degrees of negative. There is no bump given for things like keywords on the landing page and the like. Let me know if you have other questions about this.”


That being said, if raising your quality score is your goal, making individual landing pages for each of your keywords is not going to cut it.  Google wants a positive user experience and as long as your site is not misleading, has a privacy policy, link to the homepage, and a proper website layout, then you get a 10 out of 10 (for this aspect of the quality score calculations.)  Your time is better spent a/b testing ad creative than creating or paying a web developer for dozens of unique pages.  It is important to note that these comments are based on addressing the Quality Score.  We believe very strongly that Landing Page testing is an integral part of a building a successful PPC marketing campaign – but the intention and focus should be based on increasing the Conversion Rate, not the Quality Score.




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