Landing Page Usability
More Than Just The Curiosity Factor
A landing page is the page that visitors first see after becoming curious enough to click on a link to your site. The link may be found on search engine results pages, within a specifically-targeted email, on the site's navigation toolbar or within another website.
In many cases, these are links you pay for. The organic results delivered by SERPs are free, but, unless your site appears on the first two pages, it's unlikely that visitors will connect.
In many cases, the landing page is the site's home page - but not always, even within SERPs. Landing pages can appear anywhere within a web site.
Paid Links Demand ROI
If your landing page receives prominent display within search engine results pages, congratulations. Upward of 50% of visitor traffic found that landing page through an SE query. However, only 20 to 25 sites can appear on page one of Google's SERPs. What about the other 10,000 links Google delivers to its users?
Often, smaller sites employ paid links to drive site traffic. Google Adwords, for example, is a PPC (pay per click) means of building business. The important point is this: PPC programs have to more than pay for themselves in order for your site to remain a viable business.
Any form of paid linkage to one of your landing pages must deliver a nice ROI. And to do that, you need a fully-usable, engaging landing page. Otherwise, visitors won't stick around long enough to read about your low prices and free shipping.
The Purpose of the Landing Page
While all site pages have a purpose (at least on well-designed sites) a landing page typically has a special or singular purpose: to sell a particular item, to announce a product sale, to entice visitors to opt in, complete a questionnaire or perform some other MDA (most desired action).
First determine the MDA the landing page addresses. Then, design everything - from headlines and text to graphics and pictures - to support the completion of the MDA.
Try to keep to one MDA per landing page. Again, the landing page has a specific purpose. Extraneous information, slow-loading videos and a confusing call to action are distractions, along with affiliate links, text links and unnecessary animations. All distract the attention of the viewer from your MDA.
Landing Page Design Principles
- Create a headline that accomplishes the following:
- tells the visitors that they're on the right page;
- clearly states the purpose of the landing page - the MDA;
- engages the visitor, piques interest, encourages the reader to continue.
The headline should be a grabber and appear "above the fold" - the top of your home page. That's the most valuable real estate on your site.
- Use short blocks of text and single sentences surrounded by negative space (white). Visitors tend to scan rather than read the entire page, even if the text is pure poetry.
- And because readers scan instead of read site text, use lots of headers, sub-heads and bullet lists.
- The first sentence of each block of text should provide the critical information you want to impart, again because visitors scan, often reading just the first sentence of a paragraph or block of text.
- Employ an unambiguous call to action. "Order Now!" "Call now before you forget! Leave no doubt what action is expected of the visitor. Calls for action can appear throughout the landing page text and a call to action should be the last thing visitors read.
- Choose a type font that's easy on the eyes. Avoid script fonts and fonts with lots of curly-Qs.
- If the landing page sells one or more products, provide visitors with pictures of the products.
- Prices, including shipping and handling costs, should appear below the fold. But they should definitely appear.
Creating a Prominent Landing Page
If your landing page is also the home page, by definition it has prominence to visitors and to search engine spiders. However, if your landing page or pages are within the site, it's important to make sure search engine spiders recognize the importance of this page within the site - its prominence.
Spiders use a number of criteria to determine a particular page's prominence within the context of the entire site. Location is one criterion - the more clicks away from the home page, the less prominent - at least to the limited capabilities of current search engines.
Text is another criterion used to assess prominence. Keywords, keyword density and an automated comparison of keywords in the text against keywords in various HTML tags is another indicator of a page's prominence.
Finally, the number of links pointing to a particular page is an important factor in assessing page prominence. The more links connecting other pages to your landing page, the more prominent it will be to search engines when your site is indexed.
This is especially important when landing page product offerings differ significantly from other products sold on the site. Search engines employ a mathematical taxonomy to classify each site within a particular category. So, if you market educational toys but introduce a landing page offering children's books, it's important for search engines to reevaluate the site's taxonomy and to expand the site's classification to include ‘sellers of children's books'. One way to do this is to create links within the site all pointing to the landing page.
Landing pages are useful as motivators, as site directories, information sources and for many other valuable purposes. However, the development of an effective landing page takes careful thought and an understanding of what drives both humans and search engine spiders.
Generate increased site traffic and improve your conversion rate with a well-designed, well-written, well-placed and well-connected landing page on your site.