Making Google happy is always a good way to make your bottom line happy
If you read our handbooks and posts, you already know how much value we place on organic search. It’s the core of the Mequoda Method, and while anyone can buy ads to drive traffic, that kind of marketing just isn’t as high on our priority list as organic search.
We use search engine optimization to drive traffic to websites – that is, to landing pages. Our clients and others using this method rely on Rapid Conversion Landing Pages (RCLPs) to give away free content in exchange for email addresses, and then sell premium products to their email lists.
Our clients also have sales letter landing pages (SLLPs), which is where they direct potential buyers of those premium products.
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These two types of landing pages have different content and goals, but Google’s landing page guidelines apply to both, regardless of whether visitors arrive there via organic search or via paid ads.
Google’s focus is on something they call a Quality Score, this is different from Page Rank, which was discontinued. which is a 1 to 10 score that Google assigns to you based on your landing pages, and which can lower your advertising costs and give you better page position.
But even if you’re not buying ads or keywords, Google’s guidelines are still good advice for enhancing your customers’ experience: as Google puts it, “Get more mileage out of your landing page by making it easier for visitors to make a purchase, sign up for a newsletter, or do other things you want them to do on your website.”
How your landing pages can help you profit
Google identifies three main components that determine your overall landing page Quality Score. Today we’ll discuss the first component:
Relevant and original content: Google defines high-quality content as relevant and original. This means users should be able to find the content that you promise. If you claim to have content about “landing page guidelines,” a user should be able to find content about “landing page guidelines” easily.
What Google says:
- Make sure your landing page is directly relevant to your ad text and keywords.
- Provide useful information on your landing page about whatever you’re advertising.
- Try to offer useful features or content that are unique to your site.
To flesh that out a bit, your content cannot be found on another site. It shouldn’t be identical to a parent site’s content or any other site you may link to. That doesn’t mean you can’t quote something, but you must provide additional, unique content.
Having a website with relevant, unique content is only one of the many marketing strategies that we’ve identified as a major contributor to online publishing success.
Mequoda has long preached many strategies for creating effective landing pages. Some of our top tips and tricks related to the relevant and original content that Google wants to see:
Write strong, engaging headlines.
Don’t distract the visitors by confronting them with rotating banner ads for other products. Instead, write a forceful headline to capture their attention and interest.
Far too many landing pages fail almost immediately by offering up lackluster headlines and subheads. A good landing page delivers a compelling headline for a single product or service.
Keep it fresh.
Make sure the headlines, text, and other information on your landing page are always up to date. Visitors are usually interested in current news, reviews, and information, and will leave your site if they get the impression it hasn’t been updated in months.
Focus on benefits, not features.
Even the best copywriters tend to forget this ironclad rule. Benefits are more relevant to visitors than features. If in doubt, imagine that you’re a prime prospect, and ask yourself, “What’s in it for me?” Mequoda sells our events by explaining what the attendees will gain by learning what we teach. “Make more money with your publishing business now” is more compelling than “Learn how to drive traffic organically.”
Tell an interesting, personal story.
Matthew Bennett at FirstClassFlyer.com has a fantastic tale to tell.
I am one of those lucky people who managed to turn his hobby into a career. My hobby’s not all that unusual, mind you – I’m just a collector. What’s unusual is what I collect.
… I collect anomalies and loopholes. I collect ambiguities too, and incongruities, and oversights. Even what might be mistakes. All in one highly specialized area: commercial air travel.
This interest – compulsion, really – all started when I was a minor league pitcher for the Gulf Coast Royals. I’d organize the travel for the team and soon found I had the much sought-after knack of getting upgrades. I was an okay baseball pitcher but an all-star upgrader. Soon I was given the nickname Mr. Upgrade. I never got people upgraded by asking, let alone begging, I got us upgraded by digging. Discovering anomalies, loopholes, etc., that no one even knew existed.
Even if you think you don’t have that fun kind of story to share on your landing pages, you can talk about something in a dramatic yet relevant way. When we created a sales letter landing page for a free report about the best alternatives to a negotiated agreement, or BATNAs, for the Program on Negotiation, it seemed at first as if anything relevant to that content would be pretty dry stuff.
So we opened up the letter with a story, that provokes the reader to identify and realize the free report is definitely for them:
I finally accepted the fact that my life is one endless series of negotiations.
It starts in the morning with my alarm clock – which, unfortunately, always wins – followed by my teenage daughter’s clothing choices and my spouse’s desired selections for my heart-healthy breakfast. (Did I mention that they always win, too?) Then it’s time to navigate the morning commute as I jockey my way through the tolls, traffic, and parking garage to get to my office in time for my “official” negotiations – with suppliers, customers, and co-workers. You would think I’d be primed and ready to go, but regrettably, that’s far from the truth.
Since the success of my job as Director of Purchasing depends upon effective bargaining, I realized that I needed more than years of experience and common sense in my arsenal. I was looking for new perspectives and proven strategies. So I approached my boss. He supported my request for formal training, asked me to investigate options with Human Resources – and then he decided to join me, as well. (Perhaps he was concerned I would have a leg up on our salary negotiations?)
We learned that the best negotiators get to “yes” by being clear about what their alternatives are if they don’t get a deal.
Tell your visitors “how to” do something important to them.
Everyone wants to learn how to do something that will make their life better or easier. If your products, free or premium, include these secrets, use some of them right on the landing page. Of course you don’t want to give away the store, but sprinkling these throughout the content is more than relevant to visitors, and will help convince them that they want your products.
This is also an excellent SEO tip, because searching for “how to” do something is such a popular phrase among people who search the web.
These are some of the best ways to keep your content unique and relevant to Google users, and to make both them and Google happy. And as we all know, keeping Google happy is the basis of everything else you do on the Internet.
Do you have specific experience at lowering your advertising costs and getting higher search rank by focusing on Google’s landing page guidelines and improving your Quality Score? We always like to hear about firsthand experiences, so let us know in the comments below.
To discuss how we can help you grow your audience, revenue and profits, schedule a free introductory conversation with a member of our consulting team.
This article was originally published in 2014 and is frequently updated.