Don't Forget About Your Landing Pages

Google's AdWords program offers an unprecedented training ground for aspiring pay-per-click (PPC) advertisers. It doesn't just provide a theoretical education, but rather a practical one from which you can learn lessons to become a successful search engine marketer. The problem is, many people fail to learn from their mistakes and keep on wasting their money.

The mistakes I'm about to describe come from focusing too much on the keywords, ads, and bids while completely ignoring what happens when someone clicks on an ad. First off, don't assume that your site's home page is the best landing page. Home pages are often places of much conflict with multiple messages and many distractions. Confusing a visitor is a good way to lose a conversion.

A contact page can also be a poor choice. An ad is unlikely to offer enough compelling information or to establish sufficient trust with a user such that they'll be inclined to provide their contact details. Having a contact form at the bottom of an informative page can work, just not by itself.

So once you recognize that your home and contact pages may not be the best choices for landing pages, you need to consider what would make a good landing page. Don't create a page that is cluttered with too much information. Many people are inclined to mention every product and service they have available figuring that its the best way to take advantage of a user's attention. Wrong. Everything on the page should relate to the ad and to what the user is expecting to see when they respond to the ad. You can certainly expand and clarify your sales pitch, but don't change the topic.

Finally, don't assume that short copy is the most effective. Many people will tell you that people scan web pages and don't like scrolling, but long, well-written pages can actually improve conversion rates. As long as the title flows in to the first paragraph and the first paragraph flows in to the second, etc. you'll have a winner. Long copy also gives you an opportunity to provide details that would otherwise not make sense in a short page lacking sufficient background.

And finally, be sure to test. Your first landing page likely won't be your best. Keep tweaking and evaluating the results. Eventually (several weeks depending on traffic levels) you'll have a winner that brings in sales while you sleep!

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