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SEO Website Audit

High Rankings Advisor: Improving Landing Page Efficiency - Issue No. 129

February 2, 2005

~~~IN TODAY'S ADVISOR~~~

*Introductory Comments:
---->   You Guys Rock!

*Guest Interview:
---->   Improving Landing-page Efficiency

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   SEO Copywriting Combo
---->   High Rankings Seminar CD - Half Price

*Stuff You Might Like:
---->   High Rankings Seminar in Seattle: Mar. 31 & Apr. 1

*High Rankings Forum Threads of the Week:
---->   Ranking Well in the New MSN
---->   Landing Pages Are Not Doorway Pages?
---->   Rewriting the Home Page
---->   Learning PHP/MySQL

*This Week's Sound Advice:
---->   SEO for Local Companies

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   Back at the House
________________________________________________________

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hey everyone! I was pleasantly surprised and somewhat amazed at all of
the responses to my informal newsletter survey last week.  In case you
missed it, I asked your preference in regards to the frequency of the
newsletter.  As of right now, over 770 of you have responded!  The
bulk of the responses were split almost evenly between those who said
that every other week was actually better and those that said they'd
miss it if it didn't come every week, but that I needed to do what was
best for me.  All of your kind comments were very much appreciated and
they truly touched my heart!  I wish I could have responded to each
one of you, but I had only enough time to tally up the results and
send you all a silent Thank You.

My reasons for asking in the first place were twofold.  My new
company, Search Creative, is really going strong, and we've secured
many new clients since the first of the year.  You'd think that having
additional people to do much of the work would give me *more* free
time, not less, but it really doesn't work that way.  The additional
help has enabled me to take on some pretty big projects that I would
otherwise not have taken before, but it also means that there is lots
and lots of work to do to ensure that we serve these clients well.
Processes need to be put into place so that any work we do would be
exactly the same as if I did it myself, as that's what my clients are
paying for.

Don't get me wrong; I'm enjoying every minute of this new challenge.
The only problem is that spending my entire Wednesday each and every
week was giving me only 4 days a week to work with.  That wasn't a
problem before, but now I also need to go into my "real" office at
least once a week and pretend like I'm a "big girl."  (Hey, it takes
time to get outta the PJs, you know!)  Those days are extremely
helpful and productive to my Search Creative colleagues, but still
keep me away from my computer to do other work.  So now we're down to
3 days a week.  Then we have the day after the newsletter goes out,
which is usually spent answering email questions that come in.  So now
we're down to 2 days a week.

Plus, I figured that many of you were probably not reading the
newsletter every week anyway.  I know that my newsletter folder is
filled to the brim with unopened ones that I subscribe to.  Obviously,
at least 770 of you DO indeed read it, and that is great!  But what
happened to the other 15,000?  How long will last week's newsletter
sit in their newsletter folder? Or maybe they simply had no preference
on the newsletter frequency, so they didn't bother to respond.  (I'm
okay with that as it took me at least 1 full day just to tally up the
votes that I *did* get!)

It does look like most of you would be perfectly happy with an
every-other-week schedule.  But wait!  A couple of you came up with a
great suggestion that I'm going to try.  Every other week, or on weeks
where I don't have the time or anything important to say, I'm going to
simply provide you with some interesting threads from the forum with a
quick summary. If I have a guest article, I'll run that as well. (I
still need more of those, so send me your ideas for one you'd like to
write!)  This way I can still keep you up to date on my seminars and
any other important search engine happenings of the week, but none of
us will be "wasting" time we don't have.

Today's issue is going to be one of those abbreviated ones.  Well, it
was going to be until I just wrote 5 paragraphs on why the newsletter
was shorter than usual today...LOL.  The good news is that I was
actually done with the newsletter (besides this intro and the wrap-up)
by 10:30 AM this morning and was able to get some real work
done...yay!

I've moved the guest interview up to the top, and I've highlighted 4
threads that I think you will find interesting from our forum.  And
speaking of the forum, for those who mentioned that they need their
"Jill fix" each week, you'll always be able to easily find me hanging
out at the forum.  I can't be there during the day quite as much as I
used to, but I do poke my head in between client work, during lunch,
and whenever I just need a break.  So feel free to stop by for a
visit!

On to the good stuff! - Jill


~~~Guest Interview~~~

++Improving Landing-page Efficiency Boosts Your Media Buy++

The following is the third installment of Amy Edelstein's interview
with Kevin Lee.  Enjoy! - Jill

Part III: The Bottom Line
Improving Landing-page Efficiency Boosts Your Media Buy

Q=Question, KL=Kevin Lee

Q: We've spoken about the elements of landing pages that can be
tested. I guess the most important thing to spell out, though, is why
landing-page efficiency is such a critical metric to monitor.

KL: First, it's important to recognize that with paid search
marketing, there are a lot of different directions you can go. You can
build microsites to meet the needs of particular searchers who are
typing particular keywords, or you can change the way you communicate
with them on the landing page. But anything that you do that improves
your conversation -- whether you measure online conversation, offline
conversion, brand lift, or other positive behaviors -- means that
you've improved the efficiency of your media buy.

Q: And improving media-buy efficiency has real-time budgetary
implications.

KL: That's right. Here's how it works. Say you paid 50 cents for your
click, and now you're getting a better result when the user hits your
site. In some cases, that might mean that you're able to afford more
for that click than you could afford before.

If you're a pure direct marketer -- let's say you're a real estate
agent -- and you want people to contact you when they are in the
market to rent or buy a house in New York. If you used to get 6% of
the people who came to your site from a particular keyword to fill out
the "contact me" form, and you change the landing page and now get 8%
of the people to sign up, your whole search-marketing buy just got
more efficient. You also might have been able to afford only 50 cents
a click because of the cost per lead that you were comfortable paying
with a 6% return, but now, because your landing page is better and
you're getting a better conversion rate, you might be able to afford
65 or 70 cents. And that might mean that you get a higher position.
Which means you'll get more volume. Which will make you happier. So,
in paid search, a lot of what happens on the landing page and
thereafter directly influences how well search marketing will work for
you and what you can afford to buy.

Q: This is an important link for search marketers to understand.

KL: Very important. In paid, the effectiveness of a landing page makes
it a sort of closed feedback loop. The better the whole process works,
the more you want and are able to use the process.

Take our earlier example. From the instant that group of people says
they are looking for a New York house, the marketer who has the best
process from keyword to creative to landing-page content has a much
better chance of converting them, right? And if they can convert more
of those people, that means they are getting each lead cheaper, which
means they can probably afford to buy more of those leads, and they're
going to win out over their competitors.

It becomes critical for the long-term success of the campaign for
marketers to consider this. You may have a really great site but
there's almost always room for improvement. Now you can see why
saying, "Yes, I built my site and I don't need to touch it anymore"
and not testing and modifying the creative is so shortsighted.

Q: What kind of traffic volume does a site need to be getting to make
it worthwhile to test their landing pages?

KL: That's a great question and there's no simple answer. A lot of it
depends on the value of the customer to the business. You obviously
want enough traffic so that you'll get a statistically valid test. You
probably need something -- depending on the conversion rate -- in the
range of between 5,000 and 10,000 clicks a month minimum, in order to
feel comfortable that you're getting statistically valid data. But for
a business-to-business marketer, where the value of a customer might
be a million dollars, they may have to wait two months to get that
much search traffic. But, if they are soliciting people who want end
solutions, or sales force animation, or corporate legal counsel, or
something that's worth a lot of money, it may be totally worth it.

Now, if you sell Madonna CDs, you've got to obviously make a lot of
money on Madonna CDs or on CDs in general or on digital music
downloads. You may not be able to test individual artists separately.
It may never be worth it to do an individual test on Stevie Wonder,
but it may be worth doing an individual test on Clay Aiken.

Deciding what is worth it to test really boils down to having a
discussion internally. You know the old 80-20 rule? Where will you get
the most lift in your bottom line, if you can improve efficiency in
your marketing efforts? So who cares if you only get 3% of your sales
from Caribbean cruise vacations? Unless you suddenly think you can
make a huge impact in your bottom line with Caribbean cruise
vacations, it's probably not worth doing landing-page testing there.
You have to go through that internal strategic process. Ask: Where do
we have our greatest opportunity for gain? Where do our most valuable
customers come from? That will be very useful place to start.

Q: How would you suggest approaching that?

KL: There are two ways. One is to approach it based on what you're
already doing. If I look at my existing customer set, here's where all
my valuable customers come from. The other is to look at it from the
perspective of opportunity. In other words, maybe there are tons of
people searching for Caribbean cruise vacations, and up until now you
haven't been aggressive in that area at all. So, there's a high
opportunity, because there's a large search volume for that keyword.
Even if that person doesn't represent a big portion of your sales
revenue or profits now, you can make a strong case that if you can get
your landing pages honed and your search campaigns humming along, they
could represent a huge lift in your overall business -- your overall
profit and your overall revenues.

[Next week: "Why Test?"]

Amy Edelstein
Ascent Copywriting
http://www.ascentcopywriting.com

Kevin Lee, CEO
Did-it.com
http://www.did-it.com


_________Powerful SEO Copywriting Combo______________

Your site's only as good as its writing. You need the "write" skills.
__________________________________________________

If your site is poorly written, your sales will be slow.  You *must*
speak to your target audience with each and every word you write.
At the same time, keeping your keywords featured prominently is
a bit of a juggling act.

Save $10 on the most powerful copywriting combo available today!

Karon Thackston's Step-By-Step Copywriting Course & Jill Whalen's
Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines.
</combo129>
__________________________________________________

~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~

++ High Rankings Seminar and Workshops in Seattle++

Registration is now open for our Seattle Search Engine Marketing
Seminar and Workshops!  You can learn more and register here:
</seminar>.  (If you don't see "register
now" buttons on there, you can go directly to the form here:
</register.htm>.)

Date: Thursday March 31 and Friday April 1, 2005
Place: Watertown Hotel, Seattle (3 miles from downtown Seattle)
<http://www.watertownseattle.com>

We are limiting the number of participants to ensure that everyone
gets enough "face time" with our expert speakers, so please sign up
early if you know you definitely want to attend.


___________Can't Travel to Seattle This Spring?____________

Buy Now! High Rankings Seminar CD - Half Price While Supplies Last!
__________________________________________________

Listen to the MP3 audio files of our Tampa full-day search engine
marketing seminar from November '03 -- was $279, now $139.50!

What is covered:
SEO Basics, PPC, Copywriting, Measuring Traffic, and Conversions.

Also includes complete PDF presentations from the speakers.
</cdhra129>
__________________________________________________


~~~High Rankings Forum Threads of the Week~~~

Here are a few forum threads you may be interested in:

**Optimization Tips and Techniques Forum**
</forum/index.php?showforum=11>

++Ranking Well in the New MSN++

You may or may not have heard that MSN's new search engine has finally
come out of beta testing and is live at <http://search.msn.com/>.
This is a great thing because it takes away a bit of Yahoo's monopoly
on search results.  (Yahoo had previously been powering MSN.)  Now we
have 3 different major databases to optimize for -- 4 if you count Ask
Jeeves.

I haven't looked all that closely at the new MSN, but many at the
forum were wondering if there is anything special you need to do to
show up well there.  Here's the thread for you to read and post your
own findings:
</forum/index.php?showtopic=12375>.


**SEM/SEO Resources and Advice Forum**
</forum/index.php?showforum=29>

++Landing Pages Are Not Doorway Pages?++

Forum member "TBill" is confused about the difference between a
"landing page" and a "doorway page."  The short answer is that in
general terms, a landing page is something you use for your
advertising campaigns, and a doorway page is something you (shouldn't)
use for your natural SEO.

Read more in the forum thread here:
</forum/index.php?showtopic=12090>.


**Online Copywriting Techniques Forum**
</forum/index.php?showforum=15>

++Rewriting the Home Page++

In our copywriting forum, member "tigger" wonders if rewriting his/her
home page will mess up the current rankings.  See what the others have
to say about it here:
</forum/index.php?showtopic=11965>.


**Technology and Coding Forum**
</forum/index.php?showforum=38>

++Learning PHP/MySQL++

The technology and coding forum is actually one of our busiest areas
of the forum.  We are lucky to have some pretty tech-savvy moderators
who are always happy to pitch in with some coding info.

This week, forum member "westcorkweek" asked for some good tutorials
to learn PHP and MySQL as quickly as possible.  The others did not
disappoint and posted some great resources here:
</forum/index.php?showtopic=12214>. A
favorite amongst more than one forum member is a SitePoint book by
Kevin Yank.


~~~Sound Advice~~~

++SEO for Local Companies++

</soundadvice>
(This audio recording changes each week.)


~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

That's it for today!

Back at the house, Corie's still waiting to get accepted to some
colleges, Jamie is still doing a fine job at her school (I had my
parent-teacher conference last week), and Timmy's music performance
went off without a hitch.  I also managed to write up a press release
for his new school, and hopefully some local papers will pick it up
and they can get some additional students enrolled.

I'm kind of proud of the press release as I felt like an actual
copywriter -- which I'm not -- after writing it.  You can see it up at
PRWeb here: Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School.  I
thought about it for days before writing it, which made it all spill
out a lot easier when I finally did sit down to write.

Catch you next week! - Jill

 
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