Landing Page Conversion: Organic & Content Optimization

As a content and search marketing professional, driving targeted traffic through your content is one of the first goals in your strategy.

Some marketers could stop there knowing they’ve done a good job, but as the C-suite is becoming more interested in how the organic search channel is contributing to conversions (and not just any conversions, but revenue), many marketers have a heightened interest in how to convert that traffic.

That’s why the search marketer’s next stop after optimizing the performance of organic strategy is the on-page optimization of landing pages and conversions. In larger organizations, search marketers can work with team members who have specific skill sets in designing landing pages, but in smaller businesses the marketer may have to tackle it on their own with a little help from professional tools.

In this post, we’ll look at some of the ways content and organic search marketers can move to the next step of converting traffic by understanding options, page-level metrics, and the importance of testing.

Organic Search: A Massive Opportunity to Drive Conversions

Last year, BrightEdge (the company I work at) conducted research that showed that the organic search channel was the largest driver of traffic (aka acquisition efforts) over other marketing channels across industries.

brightedge-organic-search-survey

Source: BrightEdge Organic Search Survey

In that study, we found that for most sectors, organic search was also the largest driver of revenue, too.

brightedge-organic-search-survey-revenue

Source: BrightEdge Organic Search Survey

Organic search and content as an acquisition tool has the power to generate revenue and have a positive impact on a company’s bottom line. Sometimes, the only missing piece is how the website and business nurtures and converts those traffic leads.

Enter the art and science of the website landing page.

Landing Pages: What Are They?

In the most basic sense of the definition, landing pages are any pages that drive that first entry point into your website. In that sense, a landing page can technically be a blog post, a home page, an informational page, or a product page on your site.

But, landing pages today have become a secret weapon for many businesses, created specifically to enact a conversion of some sort – be it to have someone sign up for something or buy a product.

As a marketer, you can leverage the pages that are already driving the most traffic to introduce your landing page to those visitors (for example, a link to a landing page from a blog post that’s highly trafficked).

Alternatively, you can use basic organic search practices to drive organic traffic to the landing page on your site.

Different ways landing pages are used in marketing include:

  • Landing pages for specific offers or marketing campaigns you’re running
  • Landing pages that take an in-depth look into a topic
  • Landing pages that are served to various segments of your audience
  • Landing pages for PPC advertising campaigns
  • Landing pages to capture client information like email in exchange for something of value

Landing Page Optimization

While it’s true that any entry page into your site can be a landing page, you may create landing pages specifically for the purposes of what I outlined previously.

These landing pages can be optimized so they are more eligible to be found in the organic search results and to enhance their relevancy for paid search campaigns.

What this means to you is basic optimization techniques that you’d perform on any Web page on a site, such as:

  • Creating unique Meta information
  • Including important keywords in your content, so long as they are a natural fit and don’t collide with the copy
  • Formatting your headings in an SEO-friendly way
  • Speeding up page load times
  • Including schema where appropriate
  • Optimizing images, including ALT tags

Landing Page Performance and Conversion Optimization

Landing pages have their own unique set of performance indicators. Since their purpose is mainly to drive a person to action on the page, you ultimately measure conversions – how many people took that action, whatever it may be.

The conversion goal can be as simple as a download or it could be a flat-out product purchase; regardless, the conversions should have business value and eventually impact your revenue (in a B2B environment, you aim for leads to turn into sales after nurturing).

Conversion optimization can refer to the larger discipline of optimizing the entire path to conversion. A couple of examples would be the path leading someone to a landing page or the checkout process at an e-commerce site.

When people talk about landing page optimization, they are most often referring to improving the conversion rate on the landing page itself. A common way to do this is through A/B testing (or split testing), where two versions of a landing page are split amongst the traffic, 50/50.

Multivariate testing, on the other hand, is a similar practice except that it’s testing multiple elements on a page to get a more granular picture of what changes are affecting the conversion rate.

In general, marketers experiment with and test some of the following elements on landing page:

  • Headlines
  • Body copy
  • Trust signals, like testimonials, social proof, and awards
  • Images and links
  • Call-to-action elements
  • Placement of any elements on the page
  • Landing pages per device type

Special Testing Considerations for SEOs

Search and content marketing professionals have been concerned that testing environments for landing pages might be negatively impacting their sites from an SEO perspective. Google gave tips for how to test with search engine best practices in mind, including:

  • How cloaking factors
  • How to use rel=canonical
  • Using 302 redirects
  • The length of the experiment

From Google’s post, it clarifies that when following the tips they offer, testing should not have a negative impact on a site’s search results:

The recommendations above should result in your tests having little or no impact on your site in search results. However, depending on what types of content you’re testing, it may not even matter much if Googlebot crawls or indexes some of your content variations while you’re testing. Small changes, such as the size, color, or placement of a button or image, or the text of your “call to action” (“Add to cart” vs. “Buy now!”), can have a surprising impact on users’ interactions with your webpage, but will often have little or no impact on that page’s search result snippet or ranking. In addition, if we crawl your site often enough to detect and index your experiment, we’ll probably index the eventual updates you make to your site fairly quickly after you’ve concluded the experiment.

Closing the Gap Between Traffic and Revenue

Collectively, businesses are going to increase their acquisition efforts in 2015. According to the “Marketing Budgets Report 2015,” 60 percent of businesses plan to increase their organic search investment this year, and 73 percent plan to increase their content marketing investment.

The time, money, and effort that goes into getting people to your site through the organic search channel should be honored by taking those prospects by the hand and leading them through what will be the long-term relationship between the person and the brand.

More and more, decision-makers want to see real revenue tied to digital marketing, and with the acquisition that organic search provides paired with the conversion of traffic through landing pages, we can begin to showcase that ROI.

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