If you own a website or online business, you’ve probably considered using Google AdWords. As the premier ad service of the most popular search engine in the world, there is simply no better way to reach new customers and generate interest online.
Using a Google Adwords campaign can be expensive, so it’s important to get it right. You literally pay for views and clicks, and that price can add up quickly.
Conceptually, the Google Adwords service is easy to understand and use. Google displays an ad and link to your website whenever a user types in a specific keyword. When the user clicks on that link, you pay a fee to Google and hopefully get a new customer.
However, using Google Adwords effectively can be a full-time job. Before beginning a Google Adwords campaign, you’ll want to make sure that your landing page is prepped and ready to go, so that you’re not losing out on opportunities to convert new visitors to your website.
Fortunately, there are a number of AdWords landing page best practices we can review that will help you avoid that scenario.
Any ad or website that violates Google’s AdWords Policy will be removed from the service. Fortunately, the policy is pretty straightforward. You mostly just need to follow local laws and avoid deceptive or exploitative practices. There are also editorial guidelines—but if you follow the rest of the advice in this article, you should fulfill those easily.
In short, don’t be spammy, or misleading.
Even if Google did allow your ad to slide through, if it was spammy or misleading, you ultimately wouldn’t get the conversions you want out of your new site visitors. So craft an ad that follows Google’s AdWords Policy and that enhances the experience for your users.
Keyword Relevancy is one major area where pay-per click ad campaigns frequently fail. If you pay to have your ad displayed when a user searches for cupcakes, but your ad links to a page on your website that sells car parts, you’re not going to get much mileage out of that ad.
Now that’s an extreme example, but it makes the point.
More than anything else, you need to make sure that your page advertises the products that your keywords imply. For example, if “cycling equipment” is one of your keyword phrases, when your ad appears it should take customers directly to the cycling section of your store.
One of the universal AdWords landing page best practices is making sure your website loads quickly. For that reason, it’s important to avoid elements that might be difficult for some customers to load. This goes double for customers on mobile browsers, which are typically slower.
Fortunately, Google’s free Page Speed Insights Tool can be used to check your website on a variety of desktop and mobile browsers. It can even point to which specific elements aren’t loading well, and provide recommendations for fixing them.
In general, try to avoid:
If all else fails, you might have to upgrade your hosting or use a content-delivery network. While this can be expensive, it’s a virtual necessity for large, high-traffic websites.
In web-design speak, “the fold” is the part of your website that you have to scroll down to view. You can improve the usefulness of your website by putting key content above the fold. Customers won’t scroll below the initial fold on your landing page unless you draw them in.
Therefore, you have to design with the fold in mind. Consolidate as much important information as you can around the top of the page. If you have a web-based service, the same applies to any sign-up information. Ideally, your customer will be able to do everything you want them to without scrolling at all.
If you’re really serious about setting up an easily-navigable webpage, it might be time to get rid of the navigation bar. Although a staple of older websites, mobile browsers have made navigation bars less attractive to many websites.
Of course, in many cases its impossible to do entirely away with a navigation bar. If you have to have one, try to keep it small and simple. Nested menus are particularly complicated and difficult to use on a mobile device, and should be avoided at all costs.
As a few of the previous tips have hinted at, mobile browsing presents a major challenge in landing page design. Even if you have a smooth landing page with no frills or navigation bars, it might still be difficult for mobile users to navigate.
Thus, it’s often a good idea to design a special mobile version of your landing page, or even your whole website. While creating and maintaining this version will be quite a bit of extra work, it’s one of the best things you can do for your landing page experience.
In today’s mobile world, it’s practically a web design standard to create a website that is mobile responsive, and that should display reasonably well no matter what device you use. If your website doesn’t present well on mobile devices, consider changing your entire design to something that will.
Even if you ultimately decide not to design a mobile landing page, consider using Accelerated Mobile Pages. Yet another Google service, this one will enable you to build web pages that load faster on mobile platforms. Best of all, it won’t cost you a thing.
Most businesses offer more than one service. So when someone visits your website for the first time, it’s understandable if you want to tell them about every service you offer.
While it’s fine for your landing page to mention that your business offers a variety of options, your ad copy should only focus on one. This is why it’s so important to tailor the ad copy on your landing page to what your specific customer was searching for. Google AdWords is one way to get precisely targeted traffic. If you use Google AdWords well, a customer looking for a specific product should easily find an offer tailored to his or her needs.
A “Hero Image” is the first picture that customers see when they click on your ad. Landing pages with unique and applicable hero images tend to tend to perform better, because they are less likely to be confused with other websites. Additionally, customers are much more likely to purchase products from websites with attractive hero images.
If you sell a product, that’s almost certainly what your hero image should be. Even if you sell a service, however, consider creating your hero image yourself. Doing so gives your website a personal touch, and ensures that it’ll be unique.
If you do have to use a stock image, try to find a unique picture that other companies aren’t using. Reverse Image Search can help out in this process by identifying other online uses of your hero image.
Finally, if your hero image includes a person, make sure that they’re looking at the same thing you want your customers to be looking at. It may seem strange, but our brains are programmed to follow lines of sight. Ideally, you want that line of sight to point people straight to your “call to action” button (the thing that customers use to buy your product or service).
Google assigns a very high value to “trustworthiness” in a landing page. In this context, “trustworthiness” means being upfront with customers about the nature of your service, so they know what they’re signing up for. It also means having contact information easily available.
This is doubly important if you require customers to input any personal information. In that case, make sure that they know exactly why you need their information, and what you plan on doing with it. Make sure that customers know that you won’t be selling their information or giving it away, even if that seems obvious to you.
“Show, don’t Tell” is as true in web design as in writing. Try to limit your words whenever possible. Go for short headlines, brief sentences, and succinct phrasing. Not only will your customers thank you, but you’ll end up with a better landing page experience.
Specificity is your friend here. Give your customers exact prices, specific benefits, and other information. Tell them exactly how you’re going to make their lives easier or more enjoyable. Above all, don’t be afraid to rely on your hero image to convey information that might not be clear from the copy. Show, don’t tell!
Unfortunately, the internet has given birth to a number of invasive, annoying advertising practices. As a web user myself, I don’t like sites with pop-ups, or ads that make noise. It’s best to avoid ads like these or similar to these, even if your specific version isn’t particularly annoying.
Fortunately, there are always other ways to get your message across. Large, clear navigation buttons, for example, can easily take the place of pop-up ads for most websites. Customers react more positively to these methods—and as an added bonus, they won’t be disabled by ad-blocking utilities.
By themselves, videos aren’t necessarily a bad thing. While they can be annoying if they play automatically, most customers don’t find them inherently offensive.
However, there is a big problem with using videos—some people don’t watch them. Depending on your industry, some customers prefer not to watch videos when they navigate to a new page.
That’s why, even if you expect an explainer video to care of the action, your ad copy needs to stand on its own as well. So, while it’s fine to include videos in your landing page, never rely on them to provide vital information. Instead, let text and especially images convey your essential message, and let videos provide additional details.
Creative use of white space is a hallmark of a good landing page experience. If there’s too much happening on your page—too many images, too much movement—customers won’t be able to focus on the things you want them to.
However, too much white space can lead to a sparse appearance. Pictures of your products, for example, are a necessity. Again, a good hero image can help by focusing customer attention and providing context for the nature of your business.
As great as white space is, your web page also needs some color to stand out. Consider which colors you’re using carefully, as clashing tones can result in distraction and confusion. Instead, most businesses will want relatively soft, complimentary colors to promote a relaxed viewing experience.
On a related note, make sure your call to action button stands out. Colors that people associate with trust, positivity, and action, like blue and green, are particularly good choices. However, nothing will turn people away from your webpage faster than the frustration of being unable to actually buy what’s being advertised!
The single best thing you can do for your website or product is make it easy to purchase. I’m not talking about price here, but the actual process of purchasing. If you sell a product, allow customers to purchase it in as few clicks as possible from the landing page. If your company is an online service, include a sign-up space at the side or bottom of your page, and require as little initial information as possible.
Yes, this will also help you improve your landing page. But that’s really secondary to the uptick in business you’ll see when you improve your customer experience.
A couple of years ago a friend from my childhood reached out on Facebook, asking if anyone could help him with his gym website, Lionheart Crossfit.
To make a long story short, I helped him redesign his website. One of the things we talked about was how he best gets customers. He runs a specialized kind of gym–it’s a crossfit gym where they emphasize community over gym membership fees. He said, “If I can just get people on the phone to explain it to them, most people I talk to sign up.”
So we decided to funnel as much traffic as possible to landing page that works. While my friend in this case didn’t use a campaign on Google AdWords, landing page best practices are still the same.
I designed a landing page, keeping in mind the principles we discussed in this article. After launching the redesign of his website, the conversion rate on his signup page more than doubled. In a followup conversation the month after the launch, he mentioned he was on the phone more than twice as much as the month before, pitching his specific gym style to new clients.
Check out his landing page here. The conversion rate was due to many of the aspects listed above–keeping relevant content above the fold, using testimonials effectively, and making a creative form that draws site visitors in. Applying some tried and true principles to your landing page actually works.
When it comes to AdWords landing page best practices, nothing will help so much as keeping the customer in mind. When setting up your web page, ask whether you would find it an enjoyable experience to view, and make decisions based on that. If you’re practicing law, check out my post on attorney website mistakes so you can skip these basic design errors.
By focusing on the potential customer’s experience, you can achieve a better landing page experience. But even more importantly than that, a highly-tuned and usable web page will result in more satisfied customers, and more repeat business for your company.
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LAWYER & ONLINE ENTREPRENEUR
After graduating from law school and passing the bar, I struggled to find work, pay my bills, and make ends meet. That's when I decided to take control of my future and start working for myself. Now, several years and a handful of companies later, I'm sharing how I launched a successful business, and how you can do it too.