Tom Demers | January 08th, 2013
Measured SEM co-founder Ken Lyons recently had this post published on Search Engine Watch.
When it comes to landing pages, most of the talk, tips, and advice revolves around creating landing pages for paid search. SEO landing pages, on the other hand, don’t get as much press, which is odd considering they’re twice as hard to master.
You see, unlike PPC landing pages where the lone objective is to convert, SEO landing pages must serve two masters:
Given the need to perform well in competitive organic SERPs (and to rank for a basket of keywords and keyword variations), SEO landing pages are typically structured much differently than a paid search landing page, with particular emphasis on longer-form content – a theme/debate cropping up more and more in SEO circles, especially since Google unleashed Panda.
Here’s a process for crafting phenomenal SEO landing pages that are optimized for search and structured to generate conversions.
Topic selection for SEO landing pages is usually driven by keywords and search demand. It’s also critical to understand user intent behind those keywords and search queries.
User intent helps you figure out:
For example, say you sell health supplements and you want to target a keyword phrase like “stay healthy while flying.” The intent behind that phrase is an information-gathering, top-of-the-funnel search, so one landing page approach would be to publish a post on your blog like “10 Ways to Stay Healthy While Flying” that provides useful information (versus pitching a product).
And given the nature of that type of content and intent, it would make sense to pitch a softer offer, like a sign-up form for a monthly health tips newsletter versus a much more aggressive call to action (CTA), like “Buy Our Health Supplements Today!” which won’t convert as well (if at all) since the user likely isn’t looking to purchase at this stage.
It’s really important to think about searcher intent and where they are in the product buying cycle when determining type of content to publish and which offer to promote.
Now a keyword phrase you could map to a more aggressive offer that would target someone further along in the buy cycle, and deeper into your sales funnel, would be something like “best natural health supplements.”
And for a search like that, consider taking a totally different approach to your landing page than an informational blog post – one with a more tightly structured topic and a more sales-driven, solutions-oriented narrative.
Solutions landing pages are sort of a hybrid page type. They help bridge the gap between useful, informational content you might publish on your blog, and a transactional landing page that would live in a product or services section on your site.
The solutions page, on the other hand, would likely live in a dedicated “Solutions” section on your site. And for SEO purposes, that section would fall either in the main navigation or in a sub-navigation, so it’s no more than one or two clicks from the home page since you want as much internal link equity and authority flowing to those solutions pages for SERP performance purposes.
You can also build inbound links to your primary solutions “splash page” (where you hang all the individual solutions landing pages off of), which is an effective tactic to indirectly flow relevance, link equity, and authority to individual landing pages without building too many deep anchor links directly to each page. Building links to your primary solutions “splash page” is also a great way to scale your link building efforts.
Typical characterisits of solutions-oriented landing pages include being:
Even though SEO factors are being stressed here, don’t let SEO take your content hostage. You want to craft a page that is SEO focused yet connects with users by speaking their language and addresses their wants and needs. This is a delicate balancing act between optimizing for both search and for conversions.
The keyword research piece should be used inform topic selection, some light on-page optimization, and your link building efforts. However, the integrity of the content of your SEO landing pages is paramount and shouldn’t fall victim to rampant over-optimization or trying to work every single relevant keyword modifier and variation into your copy, which will undoubtedly kill conversions (and potentially rankings as well).
Let’s look at a blueprint for how you can structure a solutions-oriented SEO landing page. This blueprint includes five distinct components:
Let’s use the same health supplement company from earlier as a practical example. Maybe one of the keywords they want to target is “natural sinus pain relief.” Using the guidelines above, we’d write a page that would look like:
There are a myriad of other elements you’d want to incorporate to your SEO landing page as well (e.g., trust symbols, social proof, testimonials, hero shots, a video). However, our focus has been primarily on SEO, user intent, and content structure. You can find some great additional reading on instilling trust on landing pages, how to create the perfect landing page and optimizing funnels.
As with anything conversion-related, definitely test everything. These guidelines will help you create solutions-oriented SEO landing pages that will drive organic traffic and generating leads. However, that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to do things.
However you decide to structure your landing pages, make sure you’re constantly testing your methods, your copy, user intent, and the offers you promote. Even if you only see incremental gains, it’s worth it.
From an SEO perspective, revisit the length of your landing pages (Are they too thin? How thick are competitor pages that outrank you in the SERPs?), re-evaluate keyword targeting, keyword mapping, on-page optimization (but don’t overdo it) and where these pages live in your architecture and if they should be fewer clicks away from the home page.