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By Chris Diede

So you’ve dutifully set up your pay-per-click (PPC) accounts and the campaigns are up and running. Maybe your results haven’t been quite what you hoped for, or perhaps you haven’t seen a difference at all. What happened? While there could be a number of answers to that question, you might want to start by taking a look at your landing pages.

What is a Landing Page?

A “landing page” is simply the page your users land on when they click on an ad, search engine result, or link from another website. You could use pages that already exist on your site as landing pages, but when it comes to PPC marketing, you have the power to create pages that specifically target your users’ interests.

Think about it – you have a unique opportunity. By clicking on your ad, a user actively voiced an interest in what you have to offer. It’s the perfect audience! Now all you need to do is walk them through the process for the desired outcome. But first, you need to decide what you want that outcome to be.

Settle on a Single Desired Action

You may be eager to have these perfect, prescreened users make your wildest business dreams come true, but go easy on them. Set a single intention for your landing page. Three of the most common desired actions for landing pages include getting the user to purchase an item, generating leads for sales or other objectives and providing information about products and services.

It would be great if one page could work for all of these situations, but sadly, that’s not the case. I’ve found it’s much better to try to focus on a single outcome rather than attempt to throw everything on a page and hope your visitors will convert. They won’t. Users are finicky and impatient (aren’t we all?) and don’t like to wade through irrelevant stuff when they’re on a mission. Have a single goal (ideally directly related to your keywords), optimize your page around it, and you will avoid overwhelming your potential customers and clients.

Bonus hint: Google AdWords and the new Yahoo! Search Marketing platform will usually reward you with lower click costs for a good quality landing page that is relevant to your search terms.

Design for Conversion

Even though the subject of good usability fills books, I’m going to give you a crash course on how to make your landing pages more usable according to the goal you have set.

If the goal is to generate purchases:

• Make sure the specific product you are advertising is clearly displayed on the landing page. It would be really easy to have the user click through to the general “Digital Cameras” page from your Nikon D50 paid search ad, but if the user doesn’t see the Nikon D50 on the page immediately, buh-bye.

• Include a picture of the item. It seems like a common sense thing to do, but I wanted to reinforce it. Users like pictures. Make sure the photo of the item is attractive and formatted correctly (not squished or distorted in some way).

• Streamline the purchase process. The general rule is the fewer the clicks, the better.

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Chris Diede is the Founder and President of Argus Interactive.
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