google thumbnail image.JPGLast week, we talked about the importance of your Quality Score in reaching your ROI goals. In case you missed the post, Quality Score is a good way to keep tabs on the “customer service” rating of your AdWords campaigns. Today, we’re going to discuss one key element of your Quality Score–your landing page–through the eyes of your user.

Once upon a time, there was a hardworking soccer mom. Stacey was her name, and all year she’d been anticipating a summer mountain vacation with her family. Finally, with one week left until the big day, Stacey dug the hiking boots from her college days out of the attic–only to realize they were more tattered than she’d remembered and seemed to have shrunk a few inches. A bit panicked, she jumped onto Google, hoping to find a good replacement pair, and quickly.

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As soon as Stacey made her first search, one of the ads in the top position caught her eye:

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She quickly clicked the ad, fully expecting to be taken to the advertised selection of name brand hiking boots. But alas, it was not to be. The landing page loaded and Stacy found herself looking at this:

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The top image obscured the rest of the page, forcing her to scroll down to find out if there even were any hiking boots here. The home page yielded no relevant results, and a quick mouseover of the menu items told her the “Boots” menu would probably be no more helpful. Frustrated, she quickly back-tracked to her search results page. She didn’t have time to dig through a website for what she needed. That’s why she was using Google in the first place!

Fortunately, Stacey had better luck with the next ad.

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With free shipping and free returns, Stacey figured this ad was worth a click. This time she was not disappointed. The ad took her directly to the very landing page she needed:

shoebuy landing page.JPG

The page even featured easy filtering tools so she could instantly narrow down her results–including Same Day Shipping, which made Stacey very pleased. Within minutes, she had what she needed and sped through checkout. And they all lived happily ever after.

Well, except for retailer #1, who lost easily $150 in revenue that day, not to mention whatever was spent on Stacey’s click. And all because the landing page didn’t deliver.
The moral of the story is: it doesn’t matter how great your keyword strategy, campaign structure, or ad copy is if you lose the customer on the landing page. A great AdWords strategy is all for naught if you can’t convert users once they’re on your site.

So what about you? Does your conversion data or Quality Score indicate there might be room for improvement on your landing pages? You can find out this very week. Start by asking yourself a few simple questions:

  • Does my landing page deliver what I promised in my ad?
  • How many clicks does it take for the user to get to the product they want?
  • Could my landing page be any more focused on the keywords for my ad?
  • Could my ad group be any more targeted, so my ads stay relevant?
  • How far can I filter or target my website results for my user?
  • How many clicks does it take them to get from my ad to the checkout confirmation page?

Creating an excellent landing page experience is crucial to getting the conversions and ROI you need for a successful PPC campaign. If you’re experiencing low Quality Score and/or conversions, I invite you to read our special report, Paid Search Saboteur: 5 Questions To Determine if Your Website is Crippling Your PPC Success.