Your Google AdWords campaign looks good. In fact, you can’t think of a damn thing that you’ve done wrong. You find yourself tossing and turning every night, agonising over your low conversion rate and a terrible quality score.

The way in which AdWords has rejected you stings. The money you’re losing stings even more.

Before you flip over that desk or start writing strong-worded emails to Google, you need to take a closer look at your landing pages.

When it comes to conversion rate optimisation (CRO) and building a high quality score, the way your landing pages correspond and collate to your ad is vital. These pages that you’ve lovingly constructed are directly responsible for how highly AdWords ranks your ad and how many visitors become leads.

We’re going to let you in on a few secrets that may have a monumental effect on how your ad performs. Without too much ado, take a look at these 7 (and a half) best practices for your landing pages:

1) Relevance is key

Landing pages contribute to a high quality score for your keywords or ad group. Therefore, your landing page will score automatic brownie points from AdWords if there is a clear, thematic match between the ad, the keywords and the landing page.

Not only are you way more likely to increase your conversions by promoting a harmonious user journey from ad to landing page, but a key part of the AdWords pricing system is built on relevance.

An ad group with highly relevant key words that appear in both the ad copy and corresponding landing page will generally receive a higher Quality Score and subsequently, a higher position on the page.

It really comes down to this – if you play by the rules, your AdRank will award you with a prime spot on the page for potentially less money.

Trust is the new currency

A landing page needs to make a good first impression. In order to make a good impression, trust is a pretty important factor. Think about this – if you’re meeting someone for the first time, you can quite quickly determine whether they’re the type of person you wish to associate (and share information) with.

The same goes for a landing page, especially when you are asking visitors to fill in an online form with personal details.

Here are a couple of ways you can convince users you are an upstanding, gentlemanly business:

  • When asking visitors to fill in an online form, make sure they are getting something back in return. An even exchange – say, a small yet valuable sample of your offerings in exchange for their personal details – will increase your conversion rate.
  • Increase your credibility by featuring client testimonials with full names and photos. Alternatively, if you are part of an association then adding a visible logo and link to their page will provide visitors with the affirmation they require to put trust in you.
  • Steer clear of cheesy, hackneyed sales lines. Would you trust a doctor with a poster on their wall stating “we give the best tonsillectomies in the biz”? We hope not. The same goes for landing pages. People are less likely to trust in a service that uses clichéd ad copy and sales tactics. “The services you want for less!” – No.
  • No popups. Self-explanatory. Besides, if your visitor clicks on a pop-up then they are probably not the type to lead to a conversion.

Basecamp, a popular project management tool, is the perfect example of a landing page that communicates trust and a give-and-gain philosophy.


Navigation changes everything

A)  We live in a pretty fast-paced world and therefore have very little time for tomfoolery. When a user clicks on an ad, they looking to find out more about the product or service that appears in said ad – not a confusing hotchpotch of information.

Even if you have an incredible amount of time on your hands, the idea of hunting for the information is pretty irritating – this is not Treasure Island – people don’t want clues, they want instant gratification.

Here are some tips on how not to p*ss your visitor off:

  • First and foremost, key information should be immediately visible and preferably above the fold
  • Ensure your call to action is visible and to-the-point
  • Don’t annoy people with pop-ups or features that interfere with the site navigation

B) Internet users are accustomed to seeing navigation menus across on most pages of a website, but how does this affect your landing page? removing global navigation menus (Home, Services, About Us) has proven to increase the conversion rates on a given landing page.

Including a global navigation menu increases the chances of your visitor clicking away from the page, getting distracted and travelling further and further away from the call-to-action. You don’t want that.

Here is an example of a landing page doing it right:

Landing page design


Don’t mess with mobile users!

Some advertisers forget that a landing page that is optimised for mobile use poses a completely different user experience to that of a generic desktop landing page.

Mobile users are generally looking for quick, easy access to information so arriving at a landing page that is not optimised for mobile poses a higher risk of your site receiving a low quality score and a higher bounce rate. To create a successful mobile landing page, there are several factors that come into play:

  • Customised headlines: a headline optimised for a mobile PPC ad should not be more than four words. Though shorter, it’s crucial that the headline still corresponds directly with the ad.
  • Key information above the fold: once the page loads, the user should be able to see the key information immediately. This includes the call-to-action. This is crucial for lead generation.
  • Concise content: advertisers need to optimise their site content for mobile use. By shortening your content and sharpening up the call-to-action, you should experience an increase in conversions.
  • Speed: when clicking through to a page on your mobile device, a slow loading time will undoubtedly cause users to bounce.

All of these factors play a role in creating a smooth, speedy and direct user journey and are essential elements of a successful mobile landing page.

AB test like a boss

Much like high-waisted denim shorts, your ad either works for you or it doesn’t. AB testing is an awesome landing page optimisation technique or more aptly, experiment that tests the effectiveness of two identical landing pages against each. The catalyst? One variant – be it the headline, image, copy, video or call-to-action.

Let’s look at how Joe John used AB testing to improve his landing page experience:

Joe John the accountant wants to determine which version of his landing page generates the most leads. He compares two identical pages, but changes the positioning of his call-to-action on one of them. After sending equal amounts of traffic to each page, Joe John reviews the conversions and ROI statistics to see which version performs better. Turns out, the page where the call-to-action is placed above the fold has a higher conversion rate. This makes Joe John happy. Now he knows what works and what doesn’t. Good for Joe John. 

Once you’ve found your winner, test it against a new version. It’s this rinse and repeat formula that will increase your conversion rate.

The power of social proof

Say you are sceptical about bungee jumping – wouldn’t you feel more comfortable if one of your friends had tried it first? In online marketing, social proof illustrates a pretty similar concept. If a user sees proof that other people have bought or invested in the product or service advertised (and enjoyed it), they are more likely to trust it.

Also: when planning the landing page design of your pay-per-click campaign, don’t underestimate the power of those little social sharing buttons.

If visitors are sharing your landing page across social media platforms then audiences are arriving directly at your page without incurring any AdWords costs. Just be careful not to detract the visitor from the primary call-to-action!

 The need for speed

We hammer on about this because we have become discerning, impatient individuals. A cool infographic titled How loading time affects your bottom line reports that the majority (30%) of mobile users that participated in the survey will wait an average of 6-10 seconds for a page to load before abandoning it – no more than that.

Loading time is a massive cause of page abandonment. Every second counts. In fact, every millisecond counts.

While the site speed isn’t a huge contributor to Google rankings, it will directly affect your conversion rate. In fact, businesses have reported having experienced a 15%+ boost right about the time they began improving their website speed.

So remember, for every second that you cut from your loading time, you’ll be assuring a customer that you’re a quality website.

7 ½) The money shot

We are visual creatures, so in this case, here’s hoping a picture is worth a thousand conversions! The money shot or hero shot is the main visual attraction that grabs visitors by the shoulders, stares them right in the eye and paints a seductive picture of what your product or service represents.

Bring in the AB testing method again and compare images to see which one leads to more conversions!

Whether it’s a powerful picture that evokes an empathic emotion or a compelling, unique video that illustrates the impact your product or service will have on their everyday lives – this addition could mean the difference between an incredible lead and a swift dismissal.

When it comes to pimping your landing page for AdWords, the above tips are a great place to start. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, the most important advice to take from this is to never stop testing. There is always something you can tweak to improve your conversion rate – don’t settle for less until you find out what it is!



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