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The fallout from Google's new 'Quality Score' is growing, with talk of "mass defections" to MSN and Yahoo, but if you want to stick with Google Adwords then you need to know how to create some quality landing pages.

A quality landing page is one that reinforces ‘conversion intent’. To do this, you need to consider the mindset of your visitor and provide just enough information to persuade them to convert. And no unnecessary distractions… ok?

So what are the 10 things you need to know about designing landing pages? Read on to find out...

Firstly, let's remind ourselves of where Google is at. In emails sent to Adwords advertisers Google says:

"There is no one specific formula to determine the quality of a landing page or website. On a case-by-case basis, we will evaluate the content, structure, and navigation of a website. Keep in mind, the most relevant landing pages will include a substantial amount of content that is highly relevant to not only your choice of keywords, but also to your ad text."

Curve ball alert. Google must be automating this process, regardless of that statement about 'a case by case basis'. There are potentially millions of landing pages, so surely Google isn't doing this manually? And if it is automated, then your landing pages must be text-based (which isn't always the solution to increasing conversion rates, but hey ho...).

What else does Google say about landing pages...?

"The best way to figure out whether your keyword, ad, or landing page is relevant and useful is to put yourself in the shoes of a user. Do your ad and landing page include language that makes sense in the context of the keywords you have chosen? For example, if you have selected the keyword 'hiking shoes,' have you made sure that your ad mentions hiking shoes or related name brands? Does your landing page actually offer the name brands you mentioned, along with detailed information about this shoe type?"

"Targeting your keywords, ads, and landing pages in this way likely will lead to several positive results. First, it can help you gain the trust of your customers and therefore keep them coming back to your site. You will also minimise the money spent on clicks from users who might not be interested in what your website offers. And finally, you can increase your overall Quality Score and lower the minimum bid necessary for your ad to appear."

Ok. That's the official line from Google. It contains some useful pointers and sensible advice.

Now, here’s my 10-point checklist to help you create a quality landing page, aimed at improving conversion rates:

1. Brevity
Keep it short and to the point. Paragraphs should be no longer than three lines, if they are used at all. One idea per paragraph is plenty of information fodder.

2. Relevancy
In the case of PPC landing pages you need to match the offer to your text ad copy. Keywords should be highlighted or displayed prominently. Keep it relevant to that person's search query, because that's all they care about.

3. A direct approach
Bullet points work well online, to help communicate the benefits of a product or service. Keep in mind that people skim read on the web. Use bold text to reinforce key messages.

4. A clear call-to-action
That potentially means a big Buy Now button, above the fold...

5. Fact over fiction
Stick to the key facts and be transparent, especially when the landing page is related to an ad campaign. Do not hide the price. Avoid flowery prose. This ain't a press release. Product features, product features, product features.

6. Persuasion
Persuasion means removing any links that might distract, focusing the consumer's mind on the end goal: the checkout. This means writing compelling copy. Persuade visitors not to drop out by limiting their options - remove link navigation, for example. Prominently display delivery options and costs. Sell the goddamned product...

7. Clear scent trails
How easy is it for a novice web user to get from A to B? You need to encourage visitors to walk / run down that conversion path. Conducting usability testing on your landing page templates may also provide you with some answers. 

8. Grammatical accuracy
Its important, innit? Because people dont like spelling misteaks and stuff like that. First impressions count.

9. Reinforcing credibility
Testimonials, press, kitemarks, partners, visible customer support options. All these things convey trust and respectability. They ease the mind of the prospective buyer, who might not know your brand. Trust is very important.

10. Good use of images and colour
Presentation (eg: colours, graphics, icons) can play a big role in reinforcing purchase intent. Avoid clutter. White space and big fonts. Smart layout.

I hope that goes some way towards helping you deal with these issues regarding Google's Quality Score. Do let us know how you get on...

Chris Lake

Published 28 November, 2008 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

582 more posts from this author

Comments (27)

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Guru Naganat

The 10 point check list is great. I am trying to increase the clicks to my website which is in the home selling business and I got some valuable input.

I can't put a buy-now button (we are a few decades away from selling homes over the net) but I think i must add a contact form in the first page and that wil be my 'call for action' as well as 'pictures of models' of what I am selling.

Thanks a lot, ver useful hints
Guru Naganat
www.dubinresidential.com

over 8 years ago

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Pauline-Anne Badger BSc(Hons) MSc Science, Dip Env Dev.

As a researcher and behavioural scientist I read with interest what is a common facet for a scientist. I would urge Guru Naganat to use instead the page http://www.dubinresidential.com/shoemaker-lofts-avondale-chicago/ as to me it is emotive.

The page 'talks' a language of interest. It is real good 'Landing Page' example for me anyway even though I am thousands of miles away.

Any newspaper article or Journal page via email I use to show a certain facet of where they find the source of interest or debate. For example, one could show a page of a long pdf document, or link to the image itself where it is explained as in medical imaging. Thus the attention is on the the pearl not the shell as the homepage is. Is that right?

over 8 years ago

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aLee

Great list I must say, being a designer and primarily focused on landing pages, this list will surely come in handy for me.

Thanks for posting.
cheers

almost 8 years ago

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Brian

Excellent article. I've added this as a link on my site for our clients to review.

Thanks!

almost 8 years ago

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waseem

hi,

nice post ..i must utilize this knowldghe for creating some good landing pages.

almost 8 years ago

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zenglen

I wish someone would do a "Top 10 Landing page designs of 2009" and explain what was good about each.

over 7 years ago

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devin

this is a great brief description, but theres a book thats more thorough about landing page and design its more targeted towards small or medium organizations

go to this link for more info:

http://aa10dzp6k9cycv8bsfgii5v12e.hop.clickbank.net/

over 7 years ago

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doug

Very helpful list, I think landing pages are a problem area of mine. Need all the help I can get!

over 7 years ago

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China Mobile Phones

Great information.  Thank you!

over 7 years ago

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Canadian Bodybuilding

Thanks for the article. Very useful.

over 7 years ago

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Bryan

Hate to say this I'm not convinced on some points namely: point 6, I feel the more a page looks less like a website and more like advertising, the less trust a browser will feel in continuing further.

It's a common advertising flaw - to treat your custormers like idiots, the internet is about information, the more you restrict the availabilty of information or the feel of lack of information the more they will move on.

I think some clear hard fact would be usefull do an a b test.. see what the conversion rate is..

about 7 years ago

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Tyler - Expert Landing Page Design

While I mostly agree with the points made, there's a lot more to developing converting landing pages than this.

On your first point, Brevity, this can prove to be completely untrue. Everything in this business is situational. Trying to presell a user on a 5 page form CC submit with 3 lines of text would prove to be nearly impossible in most cases.

Good read.

about 7 years ago

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Dan Jacobs

Great pointers, but I would like to see some actual examples of good and bad landing pages. But then there is the issue of getting eyeballs looking at your landing page and that isnt easy without some sort of affiliate assistance, PR or savvy SEO work

about 7 years ago

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Landing Page Design

Very Valuable Tips…you have really highlighted the vital points that should be considered when designing a Lang Page.

almost 7 years ago

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Russell william - Landing page design

Hi Chris,

Nice list!

But there are some other tips that help get even better conversions from landing pages. These include

1)- Have an opt-in form with "eye-candy" effect above fold (If landing page is lengthy)
2)- Have a virtual character to introduce your product and or video on landing page greatly help increase conversion rate.
3)- Seprating different segments of landing page make it easy for the reader to understand what you want to say. All above mentioned point implemented here http://kooldesigning.com/cheap_landing_page_design.php
4)- Create two A/B designs of landing page and test the conversion with google page optimizer.

There are many other factors that need to consider when designing landing pages.

I would suggest to use services of any professional graphic designing company to create you landing page. This way you can get ROI of your investment.

Regards,
Russell W,
www.kooldesigning.com

almost 7 years ago

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New York Lasik

I agree with a couple above the above posters that your landing page completely depends on the product/service you are trying to sell. Sometimes a simple form is all you need to grab a lead and other times you need to really impress the visitor to hold their attention long enough to stand a chance. I also agree A/B testing is a must. You can guess all day about what will work and what won't but when it comes down to it, numbers speak louder than words.

almost 7 years ago

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saad

I agree with a couple above the above posters that your landing page completely depends on the product/service you are trying to sell.

almost 7 years ago

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bob makemoney

very good food for thought Chris - especially the grammar/spelling point - a particular bugbear of mine - I'm off to do a makeover - thanks

over 6 years ago

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Gabriele Maidecchi

Very nice tips, I too think forging an effective landing page is fundamental to the success of a successful online presence, be it a Facebook fan page or anything else.

about 6 years ago

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The GNLD Guy

Hi Chris

Great post! I checked my site against the areas you have highlighted and can see several places to make improvements on - Thanks :)

over 5 years ago

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e-portfolio

Very nice approach on the article and discussed some very valid points. Very informative. I would also be grateful if you could analyze if using a particular colour or colours on a landing page has some great effect on visitors?

over 5 years ago

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thomas

This ia a great blog very insightful.

over 5 years ago

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Doug Hughes

Thanks for sharing Chris.

A couple more landing page tidbits I've picked up over the years.

Landing pages come in several varieties: product landing pages, lead capture pages, surveys, sales pages, etc...

For maximum success, a landing page should only ever have one goal.

As far as PPC and QS goes, relevancy is really what Google is looking for. They clearly state that in the quote above.

They are looking for consistency and truthfulness - yes, being direct.

Google's business model demands that when a user searches for something and clicks an ad they will get the best answer for the problem they're looking to solve.

If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it must be a duck.

This isn't always as simple as we imagine and wonder when our QS is poor.

Inexperienced advertisers will read the above and think..."well, If I just ad the keywords a bunch of times I'll get a good QS."

But what their telling you is that they also want contextually relevant words in there.

For instance, If we're talking about 20Qt Stock Pots we would probably have contextually relevant keywords too, such as..."Our (whatever brand) 20Qt stock pots come in black enamel, stainless steel, and aluminum and perfect for preparing broth and serve up to 10...In better homes and gardens Paula Dean remarked she always cooks with (brand name) stock pots." etc...

And of course the more tightly grouped the ad groups and the more specific.

Someone mentioned graphics. Graphics are powerful and can make or break a page. But...the right graphics aren't always what you'd expect them to be.

The graphic has to resonate with the target market. I've seen campaigns converting well with copy only pages only to add fancy graphics and have them bomb.

Design like copy should only be their to support getting the action.

Same with videos, a lot of times they work, but sometimes they don't. Testing is really the only way.

The more keywords, ad groups, and market segments you have the more landing pages you should have. This could be hundreds or possibly thousands and each should be LASER beam focused on the target and what differentiates them from other segments.

Hierarchy and structure. Pages should naturally include title and meta tags & not the same ones you copy from the other pages on your site.

In the real world things generally have an order. Corporations are organized with the most important people at the top and less critical figures beneath.

Landing pages should be structured this way too. h1 tag with your relevant and benefit oriented headline. h2...h3...

Image alt tags should also be relevant and different from each other and any captions should also be consistent with your targeting.

A couple of tricks. Some words are suspicious in certain contexts such as buy now, opt in, or enter your email, testimonials, etc...and can hurt your QS.

In these cases it's better to name images numbers because numbers should theoretically take that image out of the equation.

Things change frequently and revert back to earlier times. One year bold graphics might be working. Another year copy only may work better.

The more things begin to look the same during late adoption phase is when changes typically happen.

Anyhow, I don't claim to be an adwords expert but those are a few pearls I've found.

Cheers,
Doug

over 5 years ago

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Portage Park Realtor

Just wanted to thank you again for this information. This is helpful for my focus on organic traffic for lead generation.I commented before but I must've hit the preview button instead of post. If this is a duplicate, please feel free to delete.
Thanks Again!

about 5 years ago

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Aditi

I love this post with 10 checklist for landing page design, by read this post I learn a lot. Thanks for good post.

about 4 years ago

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Monty Fuller

I strongly agree with the 'relevancy' and 'a direct approach' factors. Some sites are too lengthy and some of their contents are not even related to their ad copy. I often look out for bold and highlighted wordings or attractive banners and side frames. Information should be in bite-sizes and information on the page should be eye-catching and brief. The 'A clear call-to-action' factor is also a good persuasive method that has a fairly high chance of buyers clicking on the 'buy now' or 'check out now' buttons when they are presented very prominently on the page.

almost 4 years ago

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Annie Johnson, owner at x

I work a lot of trade shows and find that I actually get a lot of traffic to my site from them, which means that my banners are working great! but obviously I need to make some modifications to the website to make them stay! thanks.

Also, if anybody is interested in a n affective banner, I use http://southcheshireprint.com/homepage/

about 2 years ago

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