Why Professional SEO Providers Say Test Your Landing Pages

When you talk to professional SEO providers about landing pages, you’ll hear many of them extolling the virtues of testing those pages. Why? Why not just build a landing page that works the first time?

First, let’s talk about conventional wisdom, passed down from those professional SEO providers. Conventional wisdom says that your home page shouldn’t be a landing page. Conventional wisdom also suggests that testimonial landing pages work better than other so-called “conversion pages”, and that product pages are one of the top types of landing pages.

Now, let’s talk about reality. The reality is that there’s no telling what type of landing page will work for your specific website. As many of the better professional SEO providers know, what works depends on several factors, including the type of product you sell.

For instance, if you sell a weight-loss product, landing pages that show comparisons have a better possibility of working than just a sales ad with a “Buy Now” button. However, if you really want a landing page that works, you want to look at every aspect of the page, not just what type it is.

Okay, we’ve covered conventional wisdom and reality. Now we’re going to through everything out the window that you’ve ever read about building a “killer” landing page and start from scratch. Instead of wondering whether you should use a comparison, testimonial or feature landing page and constricting yourself to a “type”, ignore typing and build up the page according to your needs.

Landing Page Duties
Landing pages have some unique issues. For one, they ARE the sales process, from beginning to end. The product, service or information on the page has to be strong enough to get the user to convert.

Landing pages also have to capture a potential customer’s attention very quickly. You have approximately five seconds to impress upon the reader why your product, business or information is better than others.

The last issue is that a landing page is your first impression. Generally, it’s not going to be your regular audience that sees this page; the readers will be new visitors. Keep in mind that first impressions are the hardest to change.

Your Goals
Decide what the goal is for the landing page. Are you trying to collect contact information? Sell your product? Talk about your services? Whatever goal you’re going for needs to be the central theme of the landing page and, while all professional SEO providers will talk about content being king (I’ve done so myself many times), you need to think about design, also.

When building your landing page (or looking at one you already have), keep in mind that you want to:

• Show professionalism – First impressions are everything. Make sure the design is sleek, professional and in line with your goal.

• Inspire trust – If you're a member of your local BBB, provide Paypal or are registered with HackerSafe, use these logos on your landing page. Logos take little room, and these specific logos have been proven to inspire trust.

• Keep them on the page – Limit or eliminate your navigation. You don't need links around your website on a landing page; these are only ways for them to leave the page. If they leave the page before conversion, you've lost them.

• Keep it focused – Your ad has a call to action also, so match your landing page with the ad. For instance, if your ad says "The best professional SEO providers money can buy", you want your landing page to say something like "Level343: The Best Professional SEO Providers Money Can Buy." Use the same phrases both the ad and the page.

There are many other tips and tricks, words of wisdom, about landing pages. However, as the professional SEO providers will tell you, no amount of wisdom can guarantee a working landing page. Test first!

…And the Great Debate Continues: SEO Propaganda

SEO, in part, is theory, whether an SEO specialist will admit it or not. Matt Cutts, in an interview awhile back, commented that Google has so many algorithms out there, constantly being tested and redesigned, that they can’t possibly know what works and what doesn’t. Well, I’ll add “not exactly” to that. They know some, but refuse to give a wink and a nudge.

Like any theory, there has always been an argument between SEO specialists about what works, what doesn’t, what are “best practices” and what’s black hat. However, what many laymen don’t know is that there are also arguments over whether SEO is a viable, working theory, or crap. If you use the right search terms, you’ll come across a whole bunch of “propaganda”, pushed from both sides of the fence.

For instance, early this year, a gentleman by the name of Eoghan McCabe wrote a blog entitled “SEO is Bullshit”, a short little rant about how he felt. A few weeks later, he clarified in “SEO is Still Bullshit”, suggesting that SEO is nothing but a list of “best practices” for any website design. In other words, if we all built our websites like we’re supposed to in the first place, we’d automatically rise on the search engines, so SEO isn’t needed. It took two months for the furor to die down.

So what’s the truth? IS SEO just a scam? Are we SEO specialists sitting on our butts, pushing one or two buttons and then collecting your money? Oh, contraire, Mr. McCabe.

Website design “best practices” only go so far. You take two websites, A and B, competing for a search term with the same amount of usability, clean design, etc. and add SEO “theory” to site B. Will the search engines register both? Of course, because that’s part of website design and deployment, but they won’t have the same PageRank or search engine ranking. Unless site A is just “so absolutely fabulous” that everyone decides they must link to it, site B will rank higher on the list. That’s not theory, that’s fact.

Website owners expect to be listed on the search engines; they don’t ask, “Are we on the search engines?” They’re interested in placement, so they ask, “Where are we on the search engines?”

This is where we SEO specialists come in and really go to work. Granted, design practices call for some of the same coding that we do. Take headers, for instance. Whether web design or SEO, it’s considered best practice to use a relevant title for the header.

However, keywords are not part of design practices. It’s strictly SEO. So is on-page optimization, link building and various other SEO methods. Sorry, Mr. McCabe, your argument doesn’t hold water.

What a true SEO specialist does points the search engines towards the page so the readers can find it, and makes the page relevant to the user so they stay. Contrary to the opinion of some, SEO does not favor search engines over users; SEO doesn’t play favorites.

We, as SEO specialists, continually walk a fine line for our clients between getting them noticed by the search engines and catch their users’ interests. And it is a fine line. Too many keywords, a missed line on coding, incorrect title tags or bad linking, and the visitor and Google both dismiss the website.

So, for those of you that lean to the dark side, where SEO is crap, keep that in mind next time you do a search. Check out the top websites’ source page and see if they have SEO. You’ll be surprised at the results, and we SEO specialists will be proven “helpful” once again

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