How To: Write a Good Landing Page

Before we delve into what makes a good SEO landing page, we need to understand what a good SEO landing page is. A quick online search defines a landing page as “a web page which serves as the entry point for a website or a particular section of a website.” In essence, it’s any page users land on when being directed to your site. Think of them as an index as well as sign post for users along their journey on a site.

A landing page is where you can index information about your business, products, etc, while directing users to make purchases, get quotes, leave contact details, or as it’s referred to, completing a “conversion.” A conversion doesn’t always mean a sale either, it simply refers to the achievement of a set goal on your website, and that can include signing up for newsletters or the capturing of users’ details for follow up calls, etc.

Purpose – Their purpose is to convert visitors to customers, while giving enough information to users to make informed decisions. This can be achieved in a number of ways, but here are a few key points to apply when you are creating a landing page for your site.

Be relevant – Content on landing pages need to be relevant to the user’s journey while matching their expectations. In a nutshell, the content on ALL of your pages should be relevant to the headers, URLs, metadata, etc. If content used to be king, context and relevance have teamed up to claim the throne.

Use proper structure – Remember you are talking to humans, and as such, information is digested the same way. Give readers structure and it’ll be much easier to get them to convert. This means using H1 tags, proper headlines, paragraphs in an easy-to-digest layout. You need to guide the user through your site and by keeping the golden thread of their journey (keywords) present throughout, the search engines and users know exactly where they are on the site and what they’re supposed to do.

Keywords – You can’t connect searches for your site with your actual site without the use of keywords. Simply put, keywords are the search terms that users are searching for to try and find relevant resources. So if you do your keyword research properly, you can determine what users are typing in to find you, before adding those to your site to connect the SERPs to your landing pages. These are critical in describing and guiding browsers and search engines through your site. They should appear in your headlines, content and links present on the site. This is the golden thread that will tie each of your targeted terms together, ensuring well optimised landing pages for your campaigns.

Clear headers – These are as important for the search engines as they are to improve the ease of use for people. Use your headlines, header tags and header text smartly, write clear, honest, descriptive headlines that tell the user exactly what to expect below. This adds relevance and a good user experience to your site, both highly beneficial to usability.

Metadata – Your metadata might not be critical as far as SEO goes, but there is no doubt about how valuable it is for your users. It offers you a free billboard under your SERP listing, as well as page descriptions to keep the users and crawlers updated and aware of where they are on your site. Never skimp on metadata, it’s well worth your time.

Call to action – You need to add a call to action on your landing page, or your visitors might not know what you want them to do once they’ve arrived. Be clear, be bold and be straight to the point. This is relevant whether you want them to leave an email address for a newsletter signup, or to complete a purchase, or survey, etc.

Combine all of these pointers with some well written, topical, descriptive and to-the-point content and your landing pages will not only rank better, but your conversions should increase as a result.

How To: How Many Keywords Should I use on a Landing Page?

Landing pages are the windows to your website. On them there needs to be a number of things to ensure both users and search engines can find, understand and use what it is they came looking for. This includes meta titles, well structured URLs and the of course, content. Without content your site would be an empty shell, and the key to good content – in the past – has been keywords.

Sure, they’re still very important, considering they’re the link between your potential customers’ search queries and your website. So how many keywords is too many? How many should you have and what can you do if you have too many, or few currently?

As a general rule of thumb, never force keywords into your content. This is very important as it might not have the desired effect on the search engines or your browsers. Misinformation, irrelevant posts crammed with keywords, and content that reads badly will instantly deter any visitors to your site, and add enough keywords to a page and Google will devalue your page and your rankings will suffer as a result.

A keyword per paragraph, naturally incorporated, is ideal. It will tie your meta data, your users’ searches and your relevant pages together and create a good, predictable user experience. It’s about getting users the information they are looking for, without forcing the issue.

As with everything, it’s all completely dependent on your site and customers, so test a few different approaches before settling on a strategy. This is because no two sites are the same, and neither are their potential customers. Examine your content and objectively decide whether it’s accurate and whether it tells customers what they would expect to find out when they do land on the page.

If you are finding that you have too few keywords, add more content, and a couple of extra keywords to correct it. If you feel like you have too many keywords and that you content reads spammy, remember that when it comes to information and getting your point across online, less is more. Say what needs to be said quickly, concisely, and without fluff. Rewrite your content and omit unnecessary instances of key terms, this will be better for customers and search engines.

Read our post on writing a good landing page

How To: What Does a Robots.txt File Do?

The robots.txt file is arguably one of the most important, and basic, SEO guidelines to adhere to. Let’s start with the basics, what is a robots.txt file? According to Google’s Webmaster Tools guidelines,

“this file tells crawlers which directories can or cannot be crawled. Make sure it’s current for your site so that you don’t accidentally block the Googlebot crawler.”

In simple terms, it’s text file that grants and disables access to your site from search engine crawlers.

So what are the key things to keep in mind when creating your site’s robots.txt file?

  • Using it incorrectly can and likely will hurt your rankings.
  • It’s the control room of your site when the search engine spiders arrive, use it wisely.
  • How the spiders interact with this file is an essential part of how search engines function.
  • It is mentioned by numerous Google guidelines, so it is also simply, good practice.

Now that we know what a robots.txt file does, let’s have a look at how to use it in the best manner possible. There are three main ways that you can use a robots.txt. They are:

  • Full allow – this gives the crawler permission to crawl your entire site. Most sites would want this option as it provides maximum crawlability.
  • Full disallow – it’s exactly the opposite of the above listed, as it doesn’t allow the crawler to look at any of your site’s content. This blocks all your content from discovery via search engine and as a result is definitely NOT recommended.
  • Conditional allow – Your instructions in the robots.txt dictate to the crawlers what the can and cannot crawl. This gives you a lot of control over your website’s content that makes it into the SERPs.

That’s it for the basics of your robots.txt, remember to use it wisely. Keep on reading up about the technicalities involved, the more you know, the more effective your SEO strategies can be.

How To: Why do you need Alt Text on your images?

Alt Text is an often overlooked component of a complete SEO strategy, but it shouldn’t be. Imagine trying to find a piece of content without a single keyword in the copy you’re searching for, now apply this to images online you can begin to imagine the realm of image search. Billions of photographs and pictures, all with indecipherable names, no descriptions and as a result, very little chance of someone searching for an image and actually finding the right one.

That, among other factors we’ll discuss, will help you understand Alt Text as good practice. So besides the obvious sorting, searching and finding, how else can Alt Text benefit sites and their SEO strategies?

Firstly, we’ve all been there, images don’t always load online, and the only identifier available in that situation will be your Alt Text. This reassures visitors that the image they are looking for exists and they’re in the right place, it is just temporarily unavailable.

As a second point, you should consider Alt Text if for no other reason that search engines and their crawlers. Crawl bots can read text easily, but images are more complex. Although image searching technology has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, good old fashion Alt Text still acts as the best way for you to tell search engines what your images are depicting. Describe the images as detailed as possible, but remember, it’s crucial that your descriptions are accurate. It’s also a good idea to use your main keywords appear in your Alt Text.

Third, and finally, here are 3 tips to ensure your Alt Text is as good and effective as possible.

  1. Write concise, descriptive text
  2. Describe the images as if you’re describing them to people, in other words, give context to the images. As a result, search engines will also be able to index and serve the image more accurately.
  3. Never use keywords that aren’t relevant to the image. This could do more harm than good, so as a general rule, simply avoid doing it.

Alt Text is undeniably important and useful to both search engines and humans. Take the time to create good, descriptive and accurate Alt Text that will ensure your images, and subsequently, your site, will be found for relevant terms and searches.

How To: What KPIs should I set for my SEO campaign?

Online marketing depends on a number of factors, but very few are more important than the measuring and quantifying of your data. To determine whether your campaigns are successful you will need to establish a number of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that need to be achieved in order for the campaign to be deemed a success. However, with so many variables and vital parts that make up a campaign, it can be difficult to decide which KPIs are more important. Here are five that are non-negotiable for every campaign you run.

  1. Organic traffic volumes/user behaviour – This is arguably the easiest to implement while also being incredibly useful. Knowing where traffic is from, how much of it there is, what people are doing on your site, where they are entering and exiting, in other words, is the traffic of good quality? Traffic is where you can really spot the patterns and habits of people on your site, as a result, measuring these factors is compulsory.
  2. Keywords – One of the original pillars of every SEO campaign, doing comprehensive keyword research before setting quantifiable goals for all of the chosen terms is as important as it’s ever been. This also gives you the ability to see which keywords are maintaining a steady flow of traffic and which can be targeted smarter. Using your keywords correctly isn’t just great for results, it’s essential for accurate reporting.
  3. Conversion improvement – Knowing how well a site converts before a campaign starts and then comparing how well it converts afterwards is a very valuable metric to examine for a number of reasons. The most important being that you turned more browsers in customers, and at its core, that’s the whole point of your SEO campaign.
  4. ROI – Arguably the most important of all these KPIs, because if you’re not getting a good return on investment, it’s bad for business. The three above-mentioned factors are all considered and included when determining ROI. Did the money you spend result in a profit? There is no greater KPI in any business.

Those are the four foundations of a good, well-measured and tracked campaign. They will allow you to measure, interpret and maximise your site’s effectivity while cementing concrete goals for your campaigns to achieve.

How To: Should I buy an Exact Match Domain Name for SEO Reasons?

There has been a bit of a rumble regarding exact match domain (EMD) names as SEO tools in recent times, so let’s squash the rumours once and for all. Should your domain be an exact match and will it benefit your site’s rankings?

From a purely SEO perspective, there is little evidence to point towards the fact that they do, however having an exact match URL is beneficial in other ways. The reason it used to be so “vital” was because of companies’ main keywords (their names) appearing in the URL. According to Marcus Tober, CTO and Founder of Searchmetrics,

“keyword in the domain name’ as an SEO tactic has lost its influence over recent years”

Patrick Altoft, Director of Strategy at Branded 3 also added that “

It all depends on your goals & how well established your business is. It’s very rare that a major brand would be built on an exact match domain and we see very few examples of an EMD doing well in the long term.”

So it would appear that besides for the pure marketing and brand awareness perspective an EMD is a nice to have and by no means essential to ALL businesses. Of course, your mileage may vary, as it does along with all avenues of SEO, but think of an EMD as a good way to let users and search engines know that your brand is trustworthy enough to deserve its name in the URL of your website.

How To: What are chained redirects and how do they hurt my SEO efforts?

Let’s start at the beginning. What is a redirect? A redirect is when one URL receives a visitor but immediately sends the user to another website. It’s a search engine approved way of directing traffic, and although this can be very useful, it can also cause chaos for search engine crawlers, which in turn will wreak havoc on your rankings, both of the individual pages and your entire site.

The redirects mentioned above is what is known as a “permanent redirect” or a “301 redirect.” But because the permanent redirect isn’t frowned upon by search engines it can also be misused at times, chained redirects being a prime example.

These chained redirects can often become very long, and their adverse effects extend to more than just the inconvenience of users that have to sit through the entire redirect after the redirect process. This is the same for crawlers, so in essence, the longer your redirect chain, the more confusing it is for users and crawlers alike. We know that Google penalises slow load speeds, and this is one of the easiest ways to get yourself penalised precisely for that.

It’s a terrible user experience opening a link and being passed down an unknown pipeline only to end up, hopefully, where you initially set out to. Lots of research points to the fact that users will bounce from your site within 3 seconds if it’s not loaded, chained redirects make this virtually impossible.

The final factor to take into account is the fact that with every redirect some link juice will be lost, and this can result in diluted anchor text relevance while leading to crawling and indexing errors. As a rule of thumb, never exceed four consecutive redirects on any website domain. If you can avoid more than 2, it’ll be even better. Redirects are tools, and like most tools, they can be used negatively as well. Use them well, and they won’t do any harm, but try to get too clever, and your rankings could suffer.