We often look at effective search engine marketing as the output of three gears:
- Keywords (and, with them, proper bid optimization)
- Landing pages.
All too often, marketers tend to neglect that last gear. Commonly, it’s because, as the ones turning these gears, search engine marketers have the least amount of control over page content. Sure, we can add and remove keywords and create ad copy, but in most cases, we don’t have the keys to change landing page content.
Ignoring landing pages during an honest in-depth account review is a huge mistake, as they can be instrumental in improving both quality score and conversion rate. In addition to running a basic conversion rate or quality score report by landing page, there are a few other analyses you must consider in a thorough landing page review.
Sometimes the problem with an ad group is that it is simply too broad and has keywords that, while on the surface appear to be related, would be much better served by breaking out into new ad groups and taking a more granular approach. These can quickly be picked out by obtaining the average quality score of each ad group, and then obtaining the standard deviation of all the keyword quality scores of those ad groups.
A high standard deviation, say above 2, means keywords with drastically different quality scores are pointed at the same landing page. This should be a hint that there are keywords different enough from one another that they may benefit from different bodies of content so as to be deemed relevant by search engines.
A common worry here is that an account’s development could become a never-ending march towards increased granularity and complexity that takes the media team far past the dreaded point of diminishing returns and eventually becomes nearly unmanageable. Because of this, it helps to be able to have some numbers to back up any request for a more detailed structure.
Basic head-to-head landing page testing is too simple and effective to pass up in any scenario. The simple campaign-wide A/B test can be expounded into more complex multipage tests with different methodologies based on ad category relevance.
By leveraging available management platform technology, you can automate A/B testing to drive conversion rate or revenue per click. A best-of-breed SEM management platform should have features such as automated group and ad-level landing page testing that will split clicks among multiple pages, report on the results, and even auto-optimize traffic distribution based on your desired goals.
Being able to rapidly discern statistically significant results from different landing page variations, will condense a once a seemingly-endless slog through the potential variations of dozens of different on-page factors into a deluge of scientifically derived landing page insight.
If you’re in a position to control the content on your own landing pages, then you really have the ability to make all three gears run smoothly, creating a highly-efficient SEM machine. But it’s also important to remember that if you aren’t in charge of what content appears on pages, the people who do likely share the same business goals.
The data you can gather and the analysis you can offer should only help them effect changes that, in turn, benefit you and them. Your success can be their success, and all it takes is some testing, tweaking and reporting to ensure it.