One of the biggest mistakes I see with my clients is that their core website pages (I’m going to refer to them as “landing pages” for this article) are not optimized well—if at all.
After all: why mess with your landing pages when it’s so much easier to optimize blog posts instead?
You know, like where there’s not so much at stake. When you don’t have to risk turning off a customer by getting too heavy-handed with a keyword. When you don’t have to update and re-write copy critical to your company. When you don’t have to make waves because politics are involved with how you describe your services and your company, when you say it, and why you say it.
But optimizing the core landing pages of your site (the pages that contain your most valuable, lead-gen keywords) are critical to your business and are a non-negotiable foundational element of SEO.
There are a number of things I see go wrong:
- They’re trying to optimize the page for too many keywords
- They have too little copy on the page
- They didn’t account for optimizing the “back end” of the page
- There is a lack of knowledge – beyond using Yoast – for how to optimize a page
- Their page is quite frankly boring
- They think keywords are too “spammy” to use
Whatever the reason is that’s behind why your landing pages aren’t optimized, you’re missing out on one of the most important pieces of SEO.
3 Important Landing Page Arguments to Overcoming Avoidance
Let’s address 3 important arguments to overcoming landing page optimization avoidance:
- Trends favoring “minimalism” do not get rewarded in Google
The trend towards minimalism (thanks a lot, Apple!) has caused marketers to favor crazy things. You know, like using visuals over text because the images should speak for themselves. Or being more concerned with selling your brand and your story than what customers are thinking in their head. Or just wanting such an aesthetically pleasing page they’re hesitant to add copy for fear it will hurt conversions. Or, the fear that the mobile experience means no one wants to read anymore.
Having pages like this are fine and good. But honestly, they’re not fine and good for SEO.
Google needs to read text and content. Meaty, substantial content that is valuable and actually says something (it does not imply but states) to generate awareness.
- Awareness, not conversion, for SEO Pages
I watched a great video by Moz a few weeks ago: Should My Landing Page Be SEO-Focused, Conversion-Focused, or Both? Here is Rand Fishkin’s very wise advice to help determine if you should SEO a landing page:
- Are you trying to rank for generic and conversion-focused keywords? Or are you ONLY worried about conversion and not keyword rankings at all?
- If for SEO – is it a content focused page?
- Are you paying attention to dwell time, a high CTR, time on site, lowering your bounce rate, etc.?
- Is the content on the page keyword-targeted content?
- Can it earn links? (if not it won’t get far)
Rand gave this example of a great landing page that is conversion-focused but also ranks well: http://bellroy.com/slim-your-wallet.
He stated these two points well in the comments (always where the gold is in pieces like this):
- I believe content heavy, SEO focused landing pages can be very helpful to users especially in the awareness phase, but they likely wouldn’t have strong conversion rates. After initially being exposed to your brand, you may enter the consideration setor at least be familiar in the minds of your target audience in the future.
- When I’m doing SEO, I’m always actively thinking about the search engines – ignoring them means you don’t concern yourself with critical pieces of the puzzle – everything from meta descriptions to descriptive titles, to smart keyword usage, to rel=canonical, schema markup, crawl friendliness, and more. It’s a nice platitude to say “build for people, not engines,” but I don’t think it accurately captures reality.
- Balance and creativity: understanding the spectrum of on-page optimization
We all know the “science” of how to optimize a page. But how close you hit that is dependent on a couple things: How aggressive do you want to go? How important is this keyword to your biz?
SEO copywriting is an art. On-page optimization is an art. You have to understand the minimum you should be doing if you want a page to attempt to get any SEO love. But all too often I see people not get aggressive enough.
What I recommend is to start with the full SEO for the page and scale back. The full shebang includes:
- Strategic keyword targeting
- Meta data: title tag and meta description
- Purposeful, well-written, well-organized h1s, h2s, h3s
- Images – file name and alt text
- Internal links and anchor text
Bonus points, or for those in very competitive markets:
- Canonical tags
- More rich media elements
- Social share functionality
Final Word on Landing Page SEO
Your first time around, your landing page SEO attempt is not going to be perfect. You will have to assess and tweak and experiment and go to plan B. It’s the circle of life SEO.