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Great landing pages and how to create them

Are you in need of driving more online traffic to your website? Traffic in the form of internet users that not only spend time looking at your site but also engage with your site. You need great landing pages!

Targeted traffic is hard to attract but even harder to captivate and lead towards goal conversion. Whilst an interesting user experience, simple navigation and engaging content are high priority elements, the most important factor should be your landing page.

Great landing pages create that initial “first impression” for users visiting the site. If your pages don’t wow the user within the first few seconds of land, the chances are, you’ll be seeing a high bounce rate.

A bounce is when a user lands on your site and then navigates away again for that single page, without any interaction.

A thing about bounce rates

A high bounce rate in internet marketing is considered to be 60% or above. This stat can be found in your Google Analytics account and can be split out to display the individual bounce rates for different traffic sources (direct, referral, organic, social, PPC etc.) so you can analyse the types of users that are most likely to engage or bounce.

Let’s look at the types of reasons for users bouncing off a site:

Page load speed

One aspect of great landing pages is their ability to load quickly. If the page load speed is slow, the likelihood is, the user will get frustrated at waiting for all the elements on the page to display. They will assume that the site in general is slow to load, even if that’s not the case and will bounce off again.

Recommendation: Cut down your tracking codes, video embeds and share buttons, use caching when available and optimise your database.

Display ads

Let’s face it, no-one likes an ad-heavy website. As a user, it is highly annoying to have the user experience interrupted by constant pop-ups and distracting adverts. Whilst some display ads are worth having, and in many cases mandatory as a source of revenue, businesses should think carefully about the level of ads per page and the placement of these.

Whilst the idea of an ad is to capture the user’s attention, overkill should be avoided to ensure the user doesn’t return to the listings page to find another website.

Recommendation: Have a well-thought out strategy about the types of ad-campaigns running, the relevance of page they appear on and the placement of these. Run A/B split testing to see which ads perform better or which pages carry higher engagement with the actual elements on the page.

Unrelated content

This is an element that has been gamed over the years in order to manipulate Search Engine Ranking Positions (SERPs). The practice of ‘keyword stuffing’ involved over-optimising a page with a popular search term to drive traffic to that page. Unfortunately content was not always accurately matched to the keyword, meaning the user’s search query was not always answered.

Thankfully Google has heavily clamped down on this over the years, with intelligent algorithms to filter out these ‘black hat’ practices. This has greatly improved the user experience on Google.

Google Panda was a Google algorithm originally designed to promote pages where the on-page content accurately matched the user’s search intention. This algorithm has become more sophisticated over the years, rendering it important for web administrators to carefully match their keyword to the on-page content.

Recommendation: Create great landing pages by conducting careful planning of keyword research and execute a smart keyword mapping exercise to target the most relevant pages with matching terms.

Poor content

It sounds obvious, but poor content is an important factor in keeping users on your site. Great landing pages should exhibit neat content placement, accurate use of spelling, grammar and punctuation and well-written copy.

Aside the issue of search engines downgrading the quality of sites that have poor content, users are becoming more spoilt with engaging content on sites competing with each other to offer more value to the user. So even if a page with poor content slips through the watchful eyes of Google or another search engine, it’s unlikely it will fool a user.

Recommendation: Spend time creating unique, well-researched, creatively written content that is tightly linked to similar sources of information. Ensure this is easy on the eye to read and contains no literacy errors. Users are unforgiving.

Bad web design

Anyone can design a website these days. There is a plethora of off the shelf packages and free tools to design a site. But that doesn’t make you a web-designer.

Great landing pages are not easy to design. Executing a well-coded page that attracts the attention of search engines and users for the right reason is no easy task. Even professional web designers sometimes get it wrong. Overuse of imagery, flash elements that slow down page load speed, poor placements of CTAs and poor layout are among some of the issues that will frustrate a user and cause them to exit the site.

Similar to poor content, bad web design also has to get through the gates of search engines in order to rank. If through, they are then under scrutiny from users landing on the page. Users make decisions very quickly. If the design isn’t attractive to the eye, the user will move on. Unless there is brand loyalty, but bad design can be potentially damaging to the brand.

Recommendation: If you’re planning on creating a website or looking to redesign a dated site, leave it to the professionals. There are multiple elements that need to be considered from both a technical and visual perspective, in order to win over search engines and users.

Website credibility

Great landing pages need to quickly instill trust in the user. Unless the user is greatly familiar with your brand and has engaged with you before, they will naturally be dubious.

Pages that request too much from the user can be deemed suspicious. Whilst your intention might be to learn more about your user, you don’t want to scare them off by requesting too much data.

Likewise if you want them to engage, don’t make this process too laborious. Users like simplicity. They want to get value from your site, without the threat of being probed or pestered.

Furthermore, with so many scam sites out there, users are naturally cautious. If your site gives any accidental indication that a user might be scammed or at risk of having their personal data stolen, they will exit your site quicker than you can say “cyberspace”.

Recommendation: Keep it simple. Ensure your site looks secure and credible. If you don’t intend to use the data in any way, don’t ask for it.

Poor Navigation

So you’ve mastered the art of great landing pages? Awesome. But can the user navigate through your site easily?

Some websites have the ability to attract users but then lose their interest through poor navigation. Users become frustrated at not being able to find more information sources relating to their query.

Some examples of poor navigation issues include absence of Calls To Action (CTAs), hidden or basic menu bars, minimal anchor text and lack of breadcrumb or back button. If your intention is to encourage interaction from the user towards some sort of goal (download, contact us, form to complete etc.) then you need to create a user journey that flows smoothly.

Recommendation: Make it really easy for users to move through your site, to find additional information sources and satisfy their search intent. Create a tight internal link strategy and reference external sites where possible, ensuring external sites open in a new window.

Non-responsive design

Website design has come a long way in the last few years. With the increase of mobile and tablet devices being used, sites have had to go responsive in order to improve their user experience in a competitive market.

Despite these developments, there are still a vast number of sites that do not have a responsive website design. Non-responsive designs, when displayed on mobile or tablet make for a very frustrating user experience and are a big contributing factor to high bounce rates. If your site is not responsive, look at your bounce rates stats in Google Analytics for desktop versus mobile and tablet.

Recommendation: Web design is only going to get more sophisticated and flexible to meet the needs and uses of users. If you haven’t gone responsive, we recommend planning a site re-skin.

So there you have it, SEA’s run down of factors that affect visits to your site. Avoid these big no-no’s and you’ll be well on your way to creating great landing pages that will keep your users coming back for more.

Need some advice on creating great landing pages for your website? Get in touch.