I’ve seen an alarming trend recently in startup websites. Most want to follow this model:
It’s not uncommon to see this sort of page on a startup’s website:
It’s super simple, just a few points, and a form (and this even asks for your phone number. Talk about asking for too much on the first date). And the reality is that it’s not going to rank for anything substantial because there is simply nothing useful on the page for the search engines to index and rank.
Today let’s talk about the difference between squeeze pages (directed towards conversion) and ranking pages (that can also convert, but will do so at a lower conversion rate).
A squeeze page, or landing page, is a page directed at conversions. It is a page meant to convert someone coming into your site on very targeted traffic, such as through paid search, who is ready to convert. Historically, these pages have been quite simple, with a bit of content and a simple conversion form.
Here are some examples for you. Notice what they all lack though – substance. They are directly geared at conversion, not at building a lot of trust.
All of these pages have the following:
- A form (some seem too long);
- A few points about what the product is about;
- Big call to action;
- Little content.
They are also all fairly short. I’m sure they convert well, but when your business is one where customers return a few times to convert, this kind of page will not keep them coming back. It’s great for very targeted traffic, but you completely lose out on the casual browser, someone looking for some info and doing their research.
Landing Pages That Build Trust, Rank, and Convert
I know what you’re thinking now: “How the heck can I build a page that converts just as well, can rank for important keywords in the search results, and captures the casual viewer as well as the person ready to convert?” It’s a fine balance, but it can be done.
Start With Personas
Who is going to be hitting this page? Who are your best users? As an example, here is one way to break up your personas:
What are these people doing? Some of them are going to convert, others are going to browse, others are just looking for information. Who is the page targeted at? For the ones browsing, your challenge is to build enough trust with them to get them to convert.
Then Think About Content and Calls-to-Action
As you know, without content on the page you’re not going to rank. I’m not just talking about text content either. I’m talking about images, videos, quotes, and more. One good example is KissMetrics, run by Neil Patel who is a master of landing pages and conversions (and he builds great products). Check out this homepage (broken up into three screenshots for emphasis):
Above the fold, KissMetrics appeals to all of the different parts of the Analytics person. There are also two calls-to-action that stand out from the rest of the page. I’d be testing that button to see what color converts better (and I’m sure they are).
The middle third of the page seeks to build trust with the users and gives three important points for what makes KissMetrics different (aka the Unique Value Proposition). Directly below is another call-to-action that stands out from the design, right alongside “hundreds of customers”.
Down at the bottom of the page, you see the clients (big names), as well as having strong calls-to-action again for both the demo, a free trial, and more information. This page is geared towards conversion, to be sure, but it also provides so much value that it will and should rank for its terms.
The only thing I would do differently on this page would be to add a product video. Get the video snippet showing in the search results, and bingo. SERP domination.
Another great example that I found is Podio, the project management software. I’ve used them from time to time. This was one iteration of their homepage:
Here is an iteration of their current project management software page (which unfortunately is on a weird company.podio.com subdomain):
I personally prefer these over their competitors, from an SEO perspective. Their main competitors, Asana and Basecamp, both trap their users straight towards conversion without convincing them at all. Sure, they get those ready to convert, but they leave so many potential users on the table.
They’re pretty, sure, and Podio could even take some tips from them, but I’d rather work with Podio who understand the needs of users, not just their own needs of conversion:
In short, pages built both for customers and rankings, as well as conversions, have the following usually:
- A longer page with more media types;
- Features and benefits;
- Ability for the user to move deeper into the site easily, not just sign up;
The shorter pages rely on converting every user. The longer user-focused pages can afford to have a lower conversion rate because they are able to earn “free” organic traffic, and thus even with a lower conversion rate, the CPA is lower and the company can thrive through more than paid search.
If you’re looking for inspiration for landing pages, allow me to recommend that you look at the landing page examples page on Unbounce, where the guys over there have put together many posts about landing pages that you can take inspiration from. They critique many of them as well.
Thoughts? Questions? Concerns?