SEO vs PPC Landing Pages – what do they do and why do you need both of them?
Landing pages defined
At the basic level, a landing page is a page that your visitors arrive at or “land” on. It serves as an entry point to your site. Not all landing pages have the same purpose, however. To effectively attract and convert your prospects, your landing pages must be tailored to different goals.
It’s important to keep your content marketing strategy in mind when creating landing pages for your site. Your strategy will outline what you are aiming to achieve with various content marketing efforts, therefore it will effectively shape how you design your landing pages.
There are several types of landing pages, but the most commonly used are SEO or PPC (pay-per-click).
Conversions will nearly always be the most primary goal for businesses, but they only happen once people actually visit your site – you still need to get them there in the first place. This is where SEO landing pages play an important role.
SEO landing pages are aimed at winning organic search traffic. They are not usually linked to ad campaigns, and the intention is to create doorways to drive people to your site through relevant organic search results.
The key aim of PPC landing pages, however, is (as the name suggests) usually winning traffic through pay-per-click campaigns.
Let’s look at exactly what is involved in the construction of each of these landing pages and how they achieve different purposes.
SEO landing pages
As mentioned, these pages aim to win organic search results, so they need to be well optimised for search if they’re to stand any chance of doing so. Adhering to best practice will, therefore, be vital:
- Content needs to align with the keywords/queries your targeting
- URL should be interesting; readable by humans; reflect the content within (ideally containing your core keyword(s), and reflect the hierarchy of your site
- Meta description should be between 150-160 characters and act as a perfect teaser to the content inside (these aren’t ranking factors but they do show in SERPs, so they have a big impact on whether someone clicks through)
- Header tags (H1s and H2s) should be used to identify header (and therefore important) text
- Internal links should be used to help humans navigate around your site and to help search engines to crawl and index it, and understand how your content pages relate to each other.
- Social sharing buttons encourage people to share your content, encouraging more eyes on your content, and more positive ranking signals
Once you have someone on your site, you’ll usually want to keep them there! As such, this type of page usually has a lot of possible ‘on-routes’, to push visitors deeper into the site. Research has shown a big correlation between organic ranking and length of content, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule for shooting to the top of the SERPs (just ask Rand Fishkin). Length helps rankings in so far as a well-researched, well-written piece is usually longer and a better resource for the searcher, so is, therefore, more likely to rank. This doesn’t mean that content will rank highly just because it’s the longest, so don’t waffle on for the sake of growing word-count or you’ll see a very high bounce rate – and so will Google!
PPC (pay-per-click) landing pages
As mentioned, a pay-per-click landing page tends to rely on paid advertisements driving traffic to them. Brands pay the host of the ad for each click the ad receives, so tying these clicks directly to revenue is far more important than it would be for an SEO focussed landing page.
Everything on these pages, therefore, has to be optimised to encourage a valuable conversion. They’re usually much more succinct with a lot less ‘noise’ distracting from the key conversion goal. And they’re often visually more attractive and tend to highlight positive information about the service or brand to build trust at these key decision points – or ‘Zero Moment of Truth’, as Google refers to them.
Typically, a PPC landing page would contain these elements:
- Consistent branding
- Trust symbols of well-known brands that have used the product/service
- Images or video
- Prominent and strong headline
- Simple conversion form
The content on the page guides the visitor toward the final conversion, whether that be a checkout page, a registration page or a newsletter sign up. These pages are usually not intended to win organic SERPs, so don’t need to be optimised in the way that organic/SEO landing pages do. In fact, they are often only temporary pages designed to support campaigns. As such, it’s also a good idea to put ‘noindex’ tags on these pages to stop search engines crawling them and penalising your whole site because they aren’t optimised.
Making the right choice
Deciding on which landing page to use is done on a case by case basis. It’s important to determine what the intention of each page is, and where it sits in the sales funnel. If you want a page to rank organically and bring in traffic, create an SEO landing page with plenty of onward paths – you can still boost its effectiveness by pointing PPC campaigns towards it if you want to.
If the page is designed to be a final destination, where all you want are conversions, keep the page short and to the point as much as possible – regardless of whether or not you’re going to point PPC campaigns towards it. If you’re only ever going to use it to sit behind a PPC campaign, don’t worry about optimising the page – just make sure Google won’t index it.
Always keep your content strategy in mind to ensure that your landing pages are achieving your desired objectives and pointing your traffic in the right direction.