Optimize the website landing pages

To improve user experience and conversion rates, it’s important to optimize the landing pages for your ads by creating different layouts and messaging, and then testing their performance. Landing page testing should be a continuous initiative for any advertiser.

Search, Social, & Commerce provides landing page testing services at no cost for advertisers with managed-service contracts.
For more best practices specific to campaigns in portfolios, see also the Optimization Guide > Managing Portfolios > Best Practices for Portfolios section, which is available from within Search, Social, & Commerce.

Design effective landing pages

The following are some guidelines for designing landing pages that provide a positive user experience.

  • Keep the message consistent with the ad copy. For search ads, the page title tag and the ad’s main headline ideally should contain the keyword phrase used in the user’s search query.

  • A landing page should have only one goal, so include only one actionable item (such as a “Buy Now” or “Sign Up” button, or another element that the user must interact with to initiate a conversion). For example, if the goal is to collect visitor information for a lead aggregator, then don’t include a newsletter sign-up on the landing page. Similarly, if the goal is to sign up the visitor for a free trial, then don’t provide a button for the free trial and a second button for the full subscription. Instead, convert your free trial sign-ups at another time.

  • Place the actionable element on the page “above the fold” so the user can see it without having to scroll down the page.

  • Use good page design; a good design can immediately engender trust, a sense of familiarity, and credibility. Customize your form buttons to make them more noticeable; don’t use the standard browser-generated button with the word “Submit.” Use a two-column layout, with the actionable item in the main column and supporting information in the second column.

  • Provide credibility and security indicators. Logos and seals help reduce visitor anxiety. These include Verisign, BBB logo, eTrust, HackerSafe, satisfaction guarantees, money back offers, and so on. Include a privacy statement whenever information is collected. Place these indicators as close to the actionable item as possible.

  • Offer an incentive, such as free shipping, gifts, discounts, or a free report or ebook. A visitor hitting a landing page is shopping around and needs an incentive to stay on a page and complete the offer. The incentive should be one of the most notable items on the page.

  • When the goal is to collect information from the visitor using forms, then use only the form fields that are necessary. The fewer the number of fields, the more likely the user is to fill them out and submit the form.

  • If the conversion process has multiple phases (more than one step or page visit), then keep the phases to a minimum.

  • The more anxiety users have about buying a product (for example, because it has a high price or is complex), the more effective long copy is, so provide more information. For products that cause little anxiety, or offers for free subscriptions or free services, short copy is more effective.

  • Include keyword-rich content on the page. Make headlines text, not images, and use proper title, meta description and meta keyword tags. These practices help improve a page’s quality score so you get higher ad positions within the sponsored lists on an ad network results page and a lower cost per click.

  • Be careful when using testimonials. Any testimonial should feel real; a testimonial that sounds generic or fake and is accompanied by an obvious stock portrait is more harmful to the page than helpful. A proven approach is to include a message, image, and signature from someone high up in the company (such as the company’s president, head of product development, or director of consumer research) offering the product or service.

  • Validate the landing pages in your base/final URLs or destination URLs using campaign bulksheets.

Test the impact of landing pages

To see the impact of changing the landing page (when everything else is constant), run the Ad Variation Report, which includes the display URL and the base/final URL or destination URL for each ad.