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6 Tips to Improve Your PPC Landing Page Experience (& Quality Score)

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6 Tips to Improve Your PPC Landing Page Experience (& Quality Score)

There’s an old adage that our CRO team likes to share. Companies spend $92 of every $100 to bring customers to their site, but only $1 to convert them.

Seems off, doesn’t it?

Landing page experience is one of the more under-optimized facets of search marketing. It doesn’t fit neatly into a budget, so it’s difficult to find resources.

The average search marketer doesn’t have the skillset to design and build a landing page.

Powerful development tools like Unbounce and Instapage exist to do the heavy lifting. But without the right starting point in mind, it’s akin to giving a 16-year-old a driving test in a Ferrari.

This author has many misgivings around old best practices.

Lists of features, minimized form fields, and trust signals are great, but won’t make you stand out.

Testing new versions of the same ol’ same ol’ leave you stuck in a feedback loop. You collect small wins, but don’t impact the business.

Remember, you aren’t optimizing for conversion rate alone.

You’re optimizing for:

  1. The business.
  2. Google.
  3. Conversion rate.

All three “targets” point to the same question to help guide your testing efforts.

Does this test benefit the end user?

With that in mind, here are six top tips to optimize your PPC landing pages.

1. Focus on Speed

According to Google, 53% of all mobile visitors abandon a page that takes more than three seconds to load. The data that can load in three seconds varies.

Users have a different experience depending on the device, connection speed, weather, astrological sign, whatever!

Needless to say, landing pages need to be darn snappy to load within a three-second “limit.”

Your mobile speed score matters to Google.

This wasn’t explicitly expressed as a factor in quality score. But it’s a factor in quality score.

The correlation between speed and quality score is directional but clear. Speed kills, especially when it comes to landing pages!

Below are a few resources to help with speed:

Do faster pages benefit users? You bet! This focus on speed yields our next point.

2. Mobile-First Design (For Most)

A question for you, dear readers. How many of test your landing pages on a fast connection, working off a powerful laptop and 32-inch monitors?

Now, look at your stats in Google Ads or Analytics. How do the majority of your users access your site?

You can all read between the lines here. Design and test your landing pages based on how most of your users will see them.

Your gorgeous hero image, precise value propositions, and shiny trust signals may not show when starting with the wrong base.

Below is an example: The image is built for and renders perfect on my desktop setup.

6 Tips to Improve Your PPC Landing Page Experience (& Quality Score)

On my Pixel 3, it’s a different story. The callouts, value propositions, and branding are all pushed far below the fold.

The escape hatch (see: point 6) has vanished. The privacy policy is invisible. Most of what made the desktop page great no longer show.

Travel Perk Mobile Landing Page

If you want to benefit your users, you need to test like your users.

3. Optimize for Customers, Not Conversions

Yes, you read right. Do not optimize for conversion rate.

This may seem a bit contrarian, but whatever. It’s my post, I do what I want.

Optimizing for front end conversion rate is dangerous.

Consider the following:

You cut landing page form fields to only ask for name, email address, and phone number. Your conversion rate doubles (yay!) which means you beat your CPA goal.

Your boss or gives you more money to get more leads at these conversion rates. The business team hires more salespeople to handle the volume.

Turns out these new conversions were junk. By removing the form fields, you encouraged everyone to convert without prequalifying them. Your boss is now mad, and you are now sad.

This is too common in landing page testing. Advertisers check the success of a test in a vacuum.

Instead, look at downstream metrics when conducting a test to make sure it’s a net positive for the business.

From a user perspective, it’s a net positive as well – it saves them time and gets the right people to your business.

4. Be a Minimalist

That’s right, everybody – Marie Kondo making an appearance! Cut everything from your landing pages that do not spark joy for the user.

No, that does not mean reducing the content to bare bones nothingness. Nor does it mean cutting your landing pages off below the fold or cutting your form fields to two.

The best landing pages allow the customer to flow from search to ad to landing page to business.

Remove anything and everything that gets in the way. Exit intent or email capture pop-ups have a place in the marketing world, not landing pages.

The same goes for marketing pixels on your landing page. Keep pixels limited to what’s necessary. This:

  • Helps foster speed.
  • Prevents privacy mishaps.
  • Ensures there aren’t any rogue takeovers or broken images.

Have I made my point yet? Make sure everything on the page adds value to the end user.

5. Personalize with Purpose

Personalization is a delicate topic in the age of privacy.

It may be a bit too much to embed a user’s first name and favorite kind of cookie on a landing page.

A few audience-based content adjustments can take your experience to the next level.

Tweak to the landing pages by adjusting the hero image based on user location. Toy with value propositions or even headlines/taglines based on entry channel.

Work for a meal delivery company or a restaurant? I’d put dollars to doughnuts you’d see a huge lift from showing different food to male and female visitors.

Localization is a powerful weapon; use it with care. It’s easy to tell if a company is trying to “appear” local, which is worse than not trying at all.

If you do localize, get someone who’s a true local area to test and make sure your method fits.

As long as you give the users what they’re looking for, you’ll be happy with the results.

6. Test the Little Things

Don’t shy away from “the little things” in landing pages.

  • Take advantage of meta data and title tags. Odds are they won’t take your quality score from zero to hero, but they won’t hurt!
  • Test form fields, form styles/flow and yes, even button color. It’s unlikely these little changes will make a big impact on their own. But, even incremental improvements to customer flow can benefit landing page performance.
  • Toy with your content style and length. Don’t be shy about taking users below the fold; they’ll navigate there if you’ve done a good enough job setting the hook.
  • Explore different taglines, different ways of expressing features and benefits. Make sure your landing page highlights the answer to a users’ question and gives them a smooth flow to the next step.
  • Ensure landing pages have some form of an escape hatch. That is, a way for users to navigate off the landing page. Search engines don’t explicitly punish for bounce rate. But, they do punish for locking a user into a single page. Not to mention the potential frustration and soured view of the business.

Finally, don’t forget the big things that seem little. Your landing page will always need a findable, legible, and legal privacy policy.

To Sum Up

If there’s one point I hope I’ve driven home with this post, it’s to focus your landing page experience on the user.

Happy users make happy search engines.

Happy search engines make happy quality scores.

Happy quality scores make a happy you.

More Resources:


Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, April 2019

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Aaron Levy

Sr. Team Lead at Elite SEM

Aaron Levy has been in digital for over a decade, starting as a cross channel manager for a few large ... [Read full bio]

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