Last week, we talked about the advantages and disadvantages of pay per click advertising (or PPC) over search engine optimization (SEO). PPC has a distinct advantage because it makes it easy to get “to the top” of the search engines (if there really is a “top”). But of course, the major disadvantage is that PPC costs money, SEO doesn’t.

Unfortunately, Google makes it easy to set up your ads and start spending money, but they don’t give you all the details about how to do it correctly so you don’t waste money.

The Biggest PPC Mistake Of Them All

The biggest mistake I see over and over again is that someone decides to run an ad on Google (or the other search engines), and they send the click traffic to their Home page of their website.

You never want to send a click from an ad to the Home page because:

  • It typically has very little content, and any keywords that someone is searching for, won’t be addressed on the Home page.
  • There often isn’t a call-to-action to convert potential customers
  • The SEO on the Home page won’t match the ad copy (this is important!)

Instead, you want to create one or more “landing pages” or destination pages that are specific to the ads you’re running.

Why Set Up Landing Pages?

You should have a landing page for each group of ads that you’re running that is very specific to that ad group. As an example, one of my clients makes bronze grave markers, and granite grave markers (headstones). We set up two ads that are specific to each of the two search term groups (bronze and granite), and two separate landing pages.

So the granite marker ad set it pointing to the granite marker landing page. The bronze marker ad set is to click through to the bronze marker landing page.

The idea is that if someone is searching for a bronze marker, they should land on a page that talks all about bronze markers, not a generic page (or worse – the Home page).

Landing Page Details

The landing page(s) should not be a page that can be navigated to from the menu or any links. It should be an “orphan” page that no one can get to except by clicking the ad. The copy and images should only be about whatever group of terms you’re advertising for (like bronze grave markers).

You can even tell the search engines not to index it if you prefer. Assuming you have Google Analytics set up, you want all traffic to this page to be from your ads so you can tell exactly how many people are coming from your paid ads. This will help you to measure the effectiveness of your ad costs. You can compare dollars spent against customer conversions to make sure it’s cost effective.

Second, the PPC landing page should have a single call-to-action on it. Typically, this is some sort of very short form that someone would fill out to get in touch with you, or possibly a single button that leads them to a page like:

  • Get a free quote
  • Request information
  • Sign up for a newsletter

Make sure the form, if you use one, has the bare minimum information you need. The longer the form the less likely people are going to fill it out. Make it name, phone and e-mail at the most. Your form results (the e-mail you get) should uniquely identify what form they filled out.

Lastly, make sure that you’ve done a good job of search engine optimizing the landing page for the keywords that you’re bidding on. The more closely the copy, meta tags and all the SEO match the ad copy, this will increase your quality score, causing your clicks to cost you less.

Here’s an example of a PPC landing page that I used recently.

It’s got good SEO built into the page title and description, has only one call-to-action (the “Register” button) and is very specific to the ad I was running. It also has a strong testimonial video right at the top to help people make up their mind.

Give me a link to a landing page you’ve set up so we can see some of your examples, and tell me what you like best about the page.