Visitors go to search engines because they are looking for something. They enter their search query and want the search engine to provide relevant results.
Marketers buy Paid Search listings because they want to cash in on visitors searches by providing relevant product/services/offers etc. Remember, users are looking for results and not another set of search boxes or additional navigation to get to what they want. It is marketers’ responsibility to make sure the offers shown on their landing pages are relevant to the search keyword that the user searched for. DON’T make the visitors search again. Provide the user with relevant results right away. Don’t make people click more buttons or links to find what they are looking for.
You are wasting your money if you are doing PPC without thinking about the experience visitors will get once they click on the ad and land on your site. Landing pages are very critical to the success of any kind of advertising, but are even more critical in search advertising. Visitors don’t have patience. They need answers and if you can’t provide them with one immediately, they will go to a site that does. Your competitors are providing answers just a few clicks away. Here is an example to prove my point:
I searched for “hotels in Vancouver bc” on Google,
I clicked through three results,
- Orbitz – Which is the top listing on the left hand side
- Hotels.com – which is the 2ndd listing on left hand side
- Expedia– Which is on the 1st spot on the top
Which one do you think will be most successful in getting visitor to book a hotel? See the screen shots below and you will know.
Orbitz takes me to a generic hotel search page and wants me to search again. It has “Ski Sale” listed in in-house banners on two prominent places. Where is ANYTHING related to Vancouver BC??? The site wants me to search again and does not provide offers or banners that are speaking to me. This site is pushing what it wants to sell and not what I want to buy. I don’t like it. I click back.
Hotels.com takes me to a generic hotel search page, just like Orbitz did. It shows Bora Bora, New York but Vancouver is nowhere to be found. What, you want me to search again??? Sorry, but I don’t have time. Check your bounce rate, you will see me there.
Expedia shows me the Vancouver hotels right on the landing page, provides me ratings, rates etc. It makes it easy for me to book my hotel. Rather than making me search again, it is getting right to the business of selling.
Which one do you think will drive more conversions? Lesson: When it comes to buying paid search traffic, don’t make your potential customers search again or browse around your site to find what they need because they won’t. Give them a relevant landing page and get to the business of closing the deal.
One thing you might be worried about is how you will go about generating all of these relevant landing pages. There are several tools such as Optimost, Test&Target, Widemile etc. that will take care of this for you. Most of the time you might just setup a generic landing page template and fill-in the content on the fly based on the referring keyword (see Follow the Search blog post that I wrote). The increase in conversion will itself pay for the cost of setting up unique landing pages, so cost should not be an issue.
If you still can’t justify the cost of having a unique and relevant landing pages then keep in mind that if you bid without relevant landing pages, two things will happen; First, as we already discussed, your visitors will bounce off of your site and go elsewhere. Second, the ad network (Google AdWords, especially) will penalize your page by decreasing your quality score, thus making it increasingly expensive over time to buy clicks. Yes, Google does score your landing page and will increase your minimum keyword bid prices if it doesn’t think you are providing its users with what they are looking for. Long story short: make your landing pages relevant.
Having relevant landing page will result in increase in revenue, lower bid cost and increase in profit.
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