Optimizing PPC Landing Pages: Maintaining Scent

Last post we looked at the virtues of testing paid search landing pages. Today and Friday we’ll examine the fundamental elements of your landing page that you must nail down before you tinker with variables like button color, font size, offer and whether to show or not show site navigation.

Today’s topic: maintaining “scent” of the intent – both the shopper’s intent when she searched for a certain keyword, and the promise you made in the ad she clicked. The scent must be maintained from search engine keyword to ad to landing page.

A good example is BusinessWeek’s ad for the term “business magazine subscription.” The ad promises 85% off the newsstand price, or 26 issues for $20.

What you see is what you get on the landing page. No surprises here.

However, scent fades on Verizon Wireless’ landing page for the keyword term “cell phone plan for seniors.”

The landing page is the generic Friends and Family content they’d show to any B2C customer. A true senior citizen calling plan would certainly include the word “senior” somewhere on the page to maintain scent (preferrably in the headline) and a package for this segment (with stripped-down features like voice only (no text or data plans) and simplified phones.

The CARP.ca landing page creates an entirely different scent (no fish jokes here).

Landing pages should not have competing calls to action, display ads for other sites (gasp!), nor should it be so confusing for a new visitor to figure out what the website is and where to find the relevant content. The ad suggests there is a calling plan to sign up for. This is not apparent on the landing page.

Another common mistake is choosing the wrong URL for the keyword intent.

For the search “cell phone plan,” Chatr landed me on the Phones page, rather than Plans. There is no reference to the ad’s offer on the Phones page.

I could go on and on with examples, but I’m sure you get the gist. Instead, let’s look at how you can get started optimizing your own campaign for scent. (If you have delegated PPC to an internal team or a third party, you still want to do this as a check to see things are being done properly.)

Step 1 – Determine Your Hot Keywords

Start by finding the top 10 keywords that drive a lot of traffic, yet are converting poorly. (The weighted sort feature in your analytics helps). We start with 10 because this is a reasonable amount, but you don’t have to stop there. This also doesn’t mean you will optimize all 10 landing pages, we’re simply looking for a consistent scent-trail from keyword to ad text to landing page.

Alternatively, you could start with the keywords with the lowest Quality Score.

Step 2 – Snoop Out Your Scent

Next, we’re going to make sure scent is fragrant between these keywords, their served ads and landing pages.

There are 2 ways to check out your keyword-ad-landing page mix – you can use your Adwords account or use Google Search. The advantage of using the Adwords account is, it’s free. You won’t be charged or clicks or influence your account stats in any way. The downside is it’s tricky to know for sure which ad Google will select for the keyword. If you’re not taking advantage of Broad Match Modifiers, Adwords may be serving different ads than the ones you assigned because of Expanded Broad Match and differences in bid price. (Using Broad Match Modifiers gives you more control over what ads show for what keywords without the restrictions of Exact Match).

Tip for using Google Search: If you find your ads aren’t appearing, make sure they are not currently day-parted or geo-targeted outside your region, and that you have not reached your maximum budget for that day. Otherwise, refresh a few times or search through an alternate browser. Another culprit for ad no-shows is low quality score, which can impact your “impression share” or percentage of impressions where your ad is shown.

Step 3 – Fix Issues

If you’ve found any disconnect, consider your campaign structure. The keyword may be lumped into an AdGroup when it would be better off in its own group. For example, “family cell phone plans” with “cell phone plan for seniors.” These should have their own ad text and landing pages.

Otherwise, the error is simply sloppiness in copywriting and landing page selection (URL). These are easy corrections to make.

Next post we’ll kick it up a notch and look at the next level of PPC landing page optimization. Stay tuned…

Interested in improving your ROI from paid search? Contact consulting@elasticpath.com to learn how a pay-per-click audit can help improve your business results.


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