What is a landing page? If you are like most people, you will probably say it’s the page that visitors “land” on when they’ve clicked through an online ad or other link out in the webisphere. But in my latest Search Engine Journal article, I explain that EVERY page on your website should be a landing page. Not only that, but I’ll tell you how to make sure each one is a “freakin’ awesome” landing page.
Web marketers talk a lot about how to build the perfect landing pages. Do any search and you’ll find dozens, if not hundreds of articles on how to build landing pages that kick butt. You will undoubtedly find some great nuggets of information and wisdom.
But too often these articles focus on building specific landing pages for specific task. That’s great, but what’s missing is the reality that you don’t need to build new landing pages for your website. Rather, you need to make sure that every page on your site is a landing page.
That’s important enough to say again. You don’t have to go create a bunch of landing pages for all your marketing efforts. Those can be valuable, but not always necessary. What is always necessary, though, is making sure that every page on your site functions as a landing page of its own.
Every Web Page Must Have a Purpose
To be a good landing page, every page on your website must have a true purpose. That’s easy, you think. After all, who would add a page to the site without a purpose? (asked the guy who never met an SEO.)
It’s true, every page has a reason for being added to a website, but that’s a far cry from having a purpose. It’s not enough to have pages designed to get top rankings for search engines. Heck, it’s not even enough to have a page to talk about a different avenue of your product or services. Both of these are good reasons for a page, but none of them really addresses its purpose for being there.
The question that has to be asked is, “How will this page help the visitor?” Again, disseminating knowledge is nice, but knowledge isn’t always what the visitor is looking for. In fact, I dare say that even those looking for “knowledge” are truly looking for something deeper than that. They want more than useful tidbits to shove into their overly crowded brain. What they really seek is something that will help them better their lives. That means they need to be able to use the information you’re providing.
Every Web Page Must Have a Message
Which brings us to the actual message of the page itself. Every web page has (or should have) a unique and valuable message. The “about us” page isn’t just about your company. Underneath all those tidbits of information there needs to be a message that the reader can use to help them make decisions. What message does your about us page provide?
That’s just one example out of dozens, hundreds and thousands of (potential) landing pages on your website. Return policy pages are more than just details of how to return a product. There must be a message of security to the buyer. A message that conveys if something isn’t right, it won’t be a hassle for the order to be corrected, regardless of who’s fault it is.
The message of your product category pages isn’t just how great your products are but how your products will help make their lives better.
The message of a sizing chart is that you’re making it easy to ensure they get the right product the first time.
Every page must have an underlying message for the reader. Don’t settle for pages of information when you can craft a message that speaks more closely to what the visitor truly desires.
Every Web Page Must Have Visual Appeal
One of the primary values of a good landing page it its visual appeal. In fact, a good amount of effort goes into improving the visuals of a landing page just so. Every little change helps or hurts. Line spacing, image placement, the image itself, button colors, paragraph headings and breaks. All of those things matter to a good landing page.
Which means all of those things matter for every page on your website, too.
Typically, most web pages are developed as templates. Text goes here, images over there, and calls-to-action are everywhere. But if we treat each page as a landing page, we have to be willing to break the not-so-proverbial mold. Templates are great, but if every page is templated, there is a good chance that you’re missing visual opportunities for the message of the page.
So instead of inserting content, look for ways to step outside of the template just a bit and present the content for each page in a way best suited for the message of that particular page. This might mean two images instead of one, or a call-to-action in a different place, bolder font choices, etc. Only you will know what’s needed. You still want your web pages to look similar, but if we are to treat every page as a landing page, we cannot settle for what’s easiest visually. We have to assess each landing page on its own and tweak the template accordingly.
Every Web Page Must Have a Goal
One of the things that most website pages miss having is a goal. Simply put, you need to know what you want the visitor to do next. Different pages have different goals, and many pages may have multiple goals. In those cases, there is usually a primary goal and secondary goals.
A good deal of thought must go into deciding what is the next action your visitors should take. Again, having a page of content has very little value, regardless of how “valuable” you think the content is. Even a great message, by itself, will lack the ability to illicit an action from the visitor. It’s the addition of a strong goal that propels the visitor from the current page onto the next, or to take the action that you desire.
Ultimately, the goal is to move as many visitors from landing page to conversion as possible. Pages without goals fail in this completely. But also remember that not every page should have that same goal. Most pages will move visitors closer to the conversion, but won’t necessarily solicit the conversion itself. If all your pages do is try to convert, then they are no different from the used car salesman (no offense to any of you reading this) that walks up to you and tries to put you into the first car you look at without first trying to understand what you need in a vehicle.
Walk your visitors through the site. Don’t rush them. The more time they spend on the site, the more comfortable they’ll be doing business with you. Yes, you want the conversion, but you won’t get it if you try to force the visitor’s hand.
Every Web Page Must Have a Call-to-Action
And finally, in order to drive visitors to the goal–whatever that is–every page must have an actual call-to-action. You’d be surprised how many pages fail to have any actual action step for the visitor to take. Once a visitor reaches the end of the content, without a call-to-action specific to the page’s message and goals, they are left with nothing to do and nowhere to go.
At best, the visitor will go back to your navigation to figure out what to do next. At worst, they’ll leave the site because, well, there was no obvious action to take. But what if you could simply guide the visitor to take the next step?
But it’s not a “what if.” It’s a reality. You can guide the visitor to take the next step. And you must. Every page must have one or more next steps. Of course they don’t always come at the end. Different calls-to-action can and should be spread throughout the content, depending on the messaging. But you always have to give your visitor the next step and make it clear exactly what they need to do to take it.
Put simply, visitors want to be told what to do. If you don’t, someone else will.
Go Forth and Create AWESOME Landing Pages
As I said, you can read dozens of articles on making great landing pages. But the purpose of this article wasn’t to tell you how to make a great landing page as much as it was to put you in the mindset of how to make every page of your site a great landing page.
Take the time to go through your site–page-by-page if you have to–and make sure each one truly works as a landing page. Don’t settle for a content strategy. Instead, create a messaging strategy that establishes goals for every page and ensures each performs just as any other landing page would. What you’ll find is that you’ll have more than just freakin’ awesome landing pages all over your website. You’ll have freakin’ awesome sales to show for it.
How do you make your web pages awesome landing pages? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Featured Image: Image by Stoney deGeyter