SEO Best Practices for Landing Page Optimization
There’s been a competition going on between PPC and SEO for quite some time. And while there are pros and cons to both traffic-generation strategies, one of the best pro-PPC arguments has always been that PPC advertising drives more targeted traffic.
But organic search engine optimization can deliver highly-targeted traffic, too – if you direct and qualify that traffic properly. Landing pages are the perfect tool to do it.
If you’re skeptical, take a look at the chart below from a survey of B2B marketers. “Search engine advertising” does beat out “organic search” by a little, but SEO comes in very close, and is among the best sources of traffic for high-quality leads overall.
Here’s an adjusted version of the chart, with only organic search and paid search for a clearer comparison:
So the two channels are actually neck and neck for high-quality lead generation. Add in the ability landing pages have to focus and convert the free traffic coming from the search engines, and SEO looks even better.
Because landing pages can convert organic traffic. Here are a few charts to prove it.
For starters, let’s benchmark what a “good” or “normal” conversion rate is. This chart can help with that:
And let’s look at conversion rates for B2B companies.
This alone can be valuable data. If you can estimate what a reasonable conversion rate would be, and you know roughly how many organic searches are happening for the keyword you want to target, all you need to know next is what a potential click-through rate from the search results might be.
Search click-through rate varies from position to position, but this recently-updated research about CTR per search position tells us that if you could get your landing page into say, third position, you’d get a click-through rate of about 9.75%.
So if you’ve got a keyword that’s getting 500 searches per month, and a landing page in position three that converts at 4.31%, you’d be looking at…
500 x .0975 x .0431 = 2.1 leads per month
Not much, but when you also take into account all the variations on that keyword that you’ll rank for, the picture looks much brighter. And, with a few landing page tests, let’s say you get your conversion rate up to 10%. So now…
1,500 searches x .0975 x .1 = 14.6 leads per month
Build out enough landing pages, and get them ranked, and you’ve got a significant new source of leads. For free.
But the landing pages are key.
The thing is, getting landing pages to rank has always been a little tricky… or at least it has a reputation as being a little tricky. Actually, landing pages obey pretty much all of the standard best practices for SEO for other types of content. They’re a little different, yes, but all the same principles apply.
So to help you get your landing pages ranked, and to get you the free leads you want, here are the seven most actionable search engine optimization tactics for landing pages.
Speed it up
Landing pages should be built for conversions. And if you want conversions, you’re going to need fast-loading pages.
Google’s Test My Site tool not only shows you how quickly a particular page loads, but also lets you compare how that page performs compared to a few of your competitors’ pages.
Even more interesting (and sometimes, more alarming), Test My Site can show you how much additional revenue you could be generating if you’d take the time to increase your page’s speed. The tool will also give you recommendations for how to improve page load times, and lets you email a nicely-formatted PDF report to your team.
If your landing pages are slower than recommended, don’t feel too bad. You’re definitely not alone. Unbounce’s Think Fast page speed study found that a mere 15% of landing pages loaded within Google’s recommended time frame.
Speeding up page will help you rank higher, too, as SEO expert Rand Fishkin explains in Unbounce’s study:
“Speed improves your ability to rank well in search engines, the likelihood someone will amplify your work, the reach of your pages to those with slower connections, the percent of visitors who won’t hit that back button, and the odds that someone will feel elation versus frustration while using your site.”
One last suggestion here: If you do PPC advertising, you’ve no doubt heard about AMP landing pages for Google Ads. Maybe it’s time to think about AMP for organic landing pages, too.
Pick your keywords wisely.
The keywords you choose to optimize your landing page with will determine whether it’s successful or not.
Here are a few things to consider about this gigantically important issue:
- You want to pick keywords that get enough traffic to be worth having a landing page for, but keywords that aren’t so competitive there’s no hope of your landing page ranking for them.
- Not all keywords convert at the same rate, and not all keyword conversions are worth the same amount. You could very easily pick, say, 20 random keywords to make landing pages for. But the number and the value of the leads from those keywords would not be the same at all. Every PPC marketer knows of a few choice keywords in their account that convert beautifully, and translate into real revenue. SEO lead generation marketers need to find their version of those same “money keywords” – and preferably before they optimize 50 landing pages to find them. So go nudge your PPC counterpart and find out what the money keywords are. Build pages optimized for those terms.
KoMarketing has several resources about choosing keywords and mapping keywords to different phases of the buyer’s journey. These are must-read resources for anyone planning or optimizing landing pages:
Use H1 and H2 tags and all the other basic HTML markups that search engine bots expect.
This is SEO-101… and yet, it’s surprising how often we forget about these fundamental HTML tags.
A 2019 study of 150,000 small business websites found that 25% of all small business websites are missing an H1 tag.
Now, many B2B websites are much more sophisticated than this, but don’t dismiss this advice anyway. Go check your landing pages and verify they really do have these essential tags.
So why are they important? H1 and H2 (and H3) tags are used by search engines to discern what your pages are about. They’re core elements of a page to search engine algorithms, and not including them could be hurting your pages’ rankings.
While you’re at it… you’ve got ALT tags for all the images on your landing pages, right? Because image search can be a lucrative source of traffic. And make sure you’ve used your landing pages’ primary keywords in the filenames of the images used on those pages. And, of course, use your primary keywords in the filename of the landing page itself.
Think of your meta description tags as ad copy.
Because they are.
That same study of small business websites found that “SMB websites with a meta description rank 17% higher than websites without.”
But adding well-written title tags and meta descriptions is only the start. Smart marketers test their meta descriptions. Google Ads makes this particularly easy because the format of text ads is remarkably similar to the format of title and meta description tags.
Publish your landing pages to your website, not to a subdomain on your landing page builder tool.
Most B2B marketers won’t do this, but it’s consequential enough to be worth mentioning anyway. Keep your landing pages on your website. Link to your landing pages from other pages on your website. Share that “link juice” (aka “page authority”) where it makes sense. And leverage all the good work you’ve done to have an authoritative, well-ranked website by hosting your landing pages on that authoritative, well-ranked website.
Build links to your landing page.
We just indirectly referred to the easiest way to build links to your landing page: Link to your landing page from the other pages on your website.
But that’s only the beginning. If you want to rank, you’ll need to find or build links to this new landing page from other websites.
That may require some influencer outreach. It may require sharing about the landing page on social media. It might require adding a link to certain landing pages from PDFs and other non-webpage assets on the web. You might even have to write a few guest posts, and link to your landing page from them.
And yes, that’s going to be a bit of work. Link building is work.
But before you ever start building links to your landing page, consider how valuable that page really is. Why would anyone want to link to it? If you’ve got a somewhat self-serving landing page, building links may be tough.
Guess what? That probably means you need to be offering more value on your landing page. Sometimes original research or the results of an interactive tool can be enough to boost the value to visitors so high that link building happens (almost) on its own.
Maybe it’s no coincidence, but Moz’s on-page ranking factors for SEO micrographic would tell you (in the upper left corner of the image below) that a well-optimized page should be “uniquely valuable,” and provide “authentic, obvious value beyond self-promotion of the host site/author.”
Make it shareable.
We just talked about links, so let’s switch to the other metric of how popular content can be: Social media shares.
It’s rare to see a landing page get lots of social media shares, but if you really are offering something that’s high value, it can happen.
This very simple landing page got over 9,000 shares on Facebook. It directs veterans to get their businesses listed in a new business directory.
Of course, if you want a landing page to get more social shares, you should add social sharing buttons to it. But there are other ways to get more social shares… like setting up a WordPress plugin that only unlocks access to content after the visitor has shared a specific link online.
Or you could incorporate an interactive tool into your landing page, and let people share the results they got from using the tool – like their score on a quiz or an assessment. There are plenty of creative ways to get the high-quality leads you need and to deliver a great, high-value experience to your visitors.
If we want plenty of organic traffic to our landing pages, it may be worth the time to test different approaches beyond the standard “fill out this form in exchange for this report” lead generation tactics.
Closing thoughts: Don’t get too stuck on landing page conversion rates
We all want results, but don’t make the classic mistake of optimizing your landing pages solely for the first step in your sales funnel. A landing page that converts at 3% may be far better than a landing page that converts at 30%. How? If we’re measuring the 3% as SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads) versus just the form on the landing page converting at 30%.
In other words, don’t focus exclusively on the front end of your funnel and ignore how your new leads are converting into sales.
Sure, it’s fun to brag at marketing events about how your new landing page is getting a 27% conversion rate. But it’s way more fun to get a massive Christmas bonus check from your boss because you were the whiz kid who figured out how to triple SQLs or MQLs.
What we’re really aiming for is actual revenue. Closed sales. Contribution to pipeline. But if you can harness even some of the free organic traffic coming into your site and convert it into high-quality leads via well-optimized SEO landing pages, you’ll have done your part toward those larger goals.