When a visitor comes to your site – in our case from search engines, but they can come from many other sources as well – they end up on a specific page. This is what we call a landing page, which can be pretty much any page on your site that gets traffic. There are many aspects of what makes a good landing page, and we’ll start off by looking at it from a sales perspective.
The landing page is the first thing a visitor will see from your site (if you disregard what is shown in the search results). You can think of it as a handshake, where you get the opportunity to present yourself and your site. Unfortunately, most visitors won’t give you much time before they move on somewhere else, so it is very important to catch their attention as fast as possible. Don’t count on visitors to spend much more than a few seconds on your page, so make sure that you explain what you do in a quick and efficient way during those seconds.
Clarity is often very important. A main headline that explains what the visitor can expect to do on the site such as ‘Find and buy your new wrench here’, is usually much more effective than a simple, ‘Welcome’. Sure, you will most likely scare everyone off who is not interested in buying a new wrench, but that doesn’t matter as they won’t be your customers anyway. On the other hand, you will grab your potential customers’ attention and hopefully you will also make them stick around.
This also goes hand in hand with good search engine optimization. It is much easier for Google to understand when a page is about wrenches if it is clearly stated in the main heading. Usually that is how it works: clarity and transparency is good for visitors as well as for search engine optimization. Only in special cases will user experience be put against good search engine optimization.
As mentioned, there are many factors that affect how a visitor experiences a landing page and we are not going to get into too much detail about these, as it belongs to an area that is usually called conversion optimization rather than search engine optimization. To get better at getting visitors to convert, that is, doing what you want them to do, like buying a product or registering an account, is a task that differs a lot from search engine optimization. However, we will still discuss some parts of it as these two areas do overlap.
We have already mentioned the importance of having a clear heading that explains what the site is about. When talking about a product page for a web shop there are three other factors that need to be well-defined and these are the product image, the price and the ‘buy’ button. As long as these are distinct and functional, you should be making some sales, which can then be improved by using conversion optimization. This can include anything from adding logos from a well-known partner. If, for example, you are cooperating with a big bank, or if you by any chance happen to be a royal warrant holder, this will also be worth mentioning.
A descriptive and selling product text is not only good for sales, but it is also one of the things that overlaps with search engine optimization. The lack of good product texts is usually what’s holding web shops back in their search engine optimization. This is not too surprising since Google requires unique, well written text and preferably quite a lot of it. As an e-retailer, it is easy to copy the text provided by the product supplier, but the downside is that you will end up using the same text as hundreds of other retailers. Write your own texts. Modern search engines pay much more attention to a landing page and we will go into detail on how to optimize a landing page next.
Early Versions of Search Engines
Search engines have not always been as intelligent as they are today, and it was usually just about counting how many times a specific word was mentioned on a page. Some specialized search engines still do this, but more general ones such as Google and Bing have not been using this method to evaluate content in a long time.
Things to Consider
Is a better-looking site more profitable than an ugly site?
What is the main reason why choose not to proceed with a specific web shop after you googled a product?
Look at a site (or several) and ask yourself, is this a site I would trust with my credit card information, or be comfortable receiving medical advice from?
The title is the most important aspect when Google is going to determine what a site is about. We’re talking about the tag <title> that you can find in the page header. Google usually wants prominent aspects of the page to be important to how that page ranks in the search results, but the title is an exception to this. The title does not really appear in any other places than at the top in most browsers, as a description on the tab or in the top field in older browsers. However, Google themselves, use the title, and that is probably why it is considered important.
Usually, or almost always, the title will be displayed as the link to your page in a search result. Sometimes Google will fetch the link text themselves, from e.g. Dmoz, an old dormant project used to catalogue the internet. Sometimes they choose a link text themselves, if a title is missing for example, and sometimes the words in the title change place. If the keyword, or in some cases a synonym, is in the title it will be highlighted in bold in the search result. In this example it is a search made on the word ’Sökmotoroptimering’, and the title is ’Sökmotoroptimering – A proper SEO Agency | Brath.se’ and here the word’ Sökmotoroptimering’ has been highlighted in bold.
Previously there was a character limit to the link in the search results, but that is not the case anymore. Today it is a set width, and wider letters like W or M will use up more space then I and J. Today it is limited to 512 pixels, rather a set amount of characters. Bill Hartzer might be the one that has illustrated this in the funniest way.
Because of the change to a fixed width it is more difficult to give advice on how long the title should be. At our SEO agency we recommend not to use more than 61 characters, spaces included, in the title, although Google sometimes cuts it short already at 55 characters. Luckily there are some tools that facilitate this part. Screaming Frog, which is a favorite tool here at the office, spiders quickly through your whole site and will tell you where you have titles that have been cut. To make things even fuzzier, words that Google chooses not to show still matter for the ranking. A keyword in the title, used in a way so it won’t fit in the search result, will still improve your position. Even if this is something I would not recommend, using a lot of keywords in a really long title can therefore still make sense.
How Do You Write A Title?
In the page header in HTML, that is between <head> and </head> in the source code, there is space for quite a lot of information that will tell what kind of document there is on the current search path. For example, you can convey what language is being used on the page, where the design (CSS) used for opening the page in a browser can be found, and there is also space to add a title.
Most modern web publishing tools let you enter the title somewhere, but some might demand that you install a plugin. WordPress, which is the most popular system in the world for publishing, is one example of a platform that requires a plugin, at least for now.
To make your search engine optimization as good as possible there are certain aspects to consider. The most important is to make sure that the keyword you want your page to be visible on is included. The likelihood that a page will appear in a search result if the keyword is missing in the title is very low, since that is the single most important factor on the page. Only in very specific and exceptional circumstances can positions be taken on words other than those in the title. So, priority number one should therefore be to have the keyword in the title tag.
Since it is the title that most often is displayed in the search result, you need to think about other aspects too. A well-written title will actually increase the number of clicks on the link. You therefore want to devise a title that will give as many clicks as possible. This involves a bit of trial and error, where you have to try to find a message that fitsyour target group, but there are a few rules of thumb that will at least give you something to start with.
It makes sense to include the USP, Unique Selling Proposition, which is the main reason why someone should buy from you. Why should I choose to click on your page, instead of going to your competitors? Do you sell cheaper, nicer or smarter products?
You also want a Call To Action. This is a way to make the visitor do what you want them to do. If you want your visitors to sign up for your newsletter, or if you want them to buy a fire place, you need to tell them that. The call to action has more functions in the search result. One common reason for a missed sale is that the person searching for your product doesn’t realize that they can buy from you. By telling them upfront in the search result that they can buy fire places, not just look at them, read about them or get inspired by them, you will get the right kind of visitor. Since your first priority is to get visitors that are interested in buying, you might as well tell them that’s exactly what they can do that on your site. So, with the right message you can both increase the number of clicks and ensure that a higher amount of those clicks is actually relevant to you.
I always recommend having the company’s name in the title. If you have a strong brand it will increase the number of clicks. If you are not that well known yet it will be helpful, to a certain extent, to display your brand name in the search results.
Divide the following title into its different parts ‘Order chorizo, delivered within 20 min – SausagesLtd!’
Check if your CMS (Content Management System) allows you to change the title for the pages, if not see if a plugin will let you do it.
Think about how you can test different titles with the help of Google Ads.
The Description is one of the so-called meta tags that can be found in the page header. It is placed between <HEAD> and </HEAD> in your HTML. The purpose of a description is to describe what the page is about. A Meta Description can look like this:
<meta name=‘description’ content=‘Search engine optimization is a winning concept and at Brath AB we know that. During our first year in the industry we generated 3 500 customers for our partners’ />
This is the current tag for the index page on my company’s site. The tag has two functions to a search engine optimizer. First, there is good reason to mention the keyword in the Description since it can give an advantage when it comes to page ranking. However, whether it actually helps is a matter for discussion. Google stated in 2009 that using a keyword in the Meta Description is not a factor considered when ranking a page. Despite this, many in the industry say the opposite: maybe the information from Google is old (2009) or the indirect aspects might be more important. The general recommendation is to still use the keyword in the meta description, in most cases it is not a big effort since the description should be optimized for search engines anyway. The other aspect is so important that it has to be done no matter if the ranking is affected or not. The second reason to work on your descriptions is that they’re usually displayed as the descriptive text in search results.
Remember that most people will not thoroughly read all the text in the search result. Most of them will skim the result and if the keyword is mentioned in the description it will be highlighted in bold. The example above shows a search for Brath. Words in bold can increase the number of clicks on the link, since you obviously have what visitors are looking for.
But some do read the texts presented in the search results. Therefore, you have every reason to write a clear and selling description.
Meta Keywords is a chapter that does not belong in a book about search engine optimization, but since many people think these are still important, an explanation might be necessary. The Meta tag Keywords was important in the early versions of search engines. The purpose of the tag is to make it easier for a search engine to understand what a site is about.
This is a tag that has been abused in so many ways that no reputable search engine uses it today. Google for example totally ignores its content. The reason for this is that it is so easy to abuse the tag. To write Madonna or Mad Man in the tag could generate a lot of traffic to a site that had nothing to do with any of them – anything to get ad clicks. A minimum effort to get lots of traffic. Since a lot of web masters tried to use this method, the tag became useless to search engines.
Meta Keywords can therefore be safely ignored, even though a lot of SEO-plugins and tools suggest that these should be filled in. If you still want to add the tag to a page, remember that the Meta Keywords should describe the content on the page, not the site, and be separated with a comma. The tag should be in the page header, between head and /head. See the example below:
Google does not use the Keywords Meta tag in web ranking. http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/09/google-does-not-use-keywords-meta-tag.html