Just Google it.
That’s what about one-seventh of the entire world (1.17 billion people) does every month when they have a question that needs answering. All those searchers add up to over 1 trillion search queries per year for the world’s most popular search engine.
The sheer number of eyeballs that Google attracts is alone enough to convince advertisers to dedicate a large portion of their budgets to getting their product on search engine results pages (SERP’s).
But, even more so than search volume, what makes advertising with Google so appealing is the laser-focused targeting capabilities of its proprietary paid search program called “AdWords.”
What is Google AdWords?
Last year, Google captured a staggering 82% of US paid search ad spend.
Let me rephrase and emphasize: Of ALL the money in the United States spent by businesses trying to get their ads shown on SERP’s, 82% of it was spent on Google:
Over 1 million businesses use Google’s pay-per-click AdWords program to boost online sales, retain customers, and reach new ones using pinpoint audience targeting.
And that number is growing, which is not surprising considering that paid ads account for 64.6% of all clicks by searchers, and that businesses earn an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on AdWords.
How Google AdWords works
Through Google AdWords, you can create video, image, and text-based ads (among other formats) and tie them to search terms relevant to your business, called keywords, which you bid on with other advertisers.
Ideally, when someone searches for those keywords in Google:
- Your ad will appear
- That person will click your ad
- They’ll be taken to a landing page for your product or service
- They’ll convert on your landing page
But, all that depends on how highly your AdWords campaign is rated in the areas of Quality Score and Ad Rank. And one of the major factors that determine Quality Score is, according to Google, how well your AdWords landing page is built.
What is an AdWords landing page?
An AdWords landing page is a landing page that a Google searcher reaches after clicking an AdWords ad.
Below is an AdWords ad from IBM for CMS software, along with its corresponding landing page (which, coincidentally, was created with Instapage):
The goal of an AdWords landing page is the same as any other — to get your visitor to convert. The only difference between these and other landing pages is that to get traffic to your page; it has to follow Google’s guidelines for creating a great landing page experience.
How Google measures landing page experience
No matter what kind of landing page you’re building, you always want to emphasize user experience. The better experience a visitor has on your landing page, the more likely it is they’ll convert.
That means when you’re developing an ad campaign for Facebook, you follow Facebook’s best practices. When you’re creating one for e-commerce, you follow e-commerce best practices. And, when you’re building one in AdWords, you adhere to Google’s guidelines.
Here’s how to create a great experience on your AdWords landing pages, according to Google:
“Landing page experience refers to how good we think someone's experience will be when they get to your landing page (the webpage they end up on after clicking your ad). You can improve your landing page experience by:
- providing relevant, useful, and original content,
- promoting transparency and fostering trustworthiness on your site (for example, by explaining your products or services before asking visitors to fill out forms sharing their own information),
- making it easy for customers to navigate your site (including on mobile sites), and
- encouraging customers to spend time on your site (for example, by making sure your page loads quickly so people who click your ad don’t give up and leave your site prematurely).
Your landing page experience affects not only your Quality Score, but also your Ad Rank, and advertising costs.”
Whether or not your landing page nails all those bullet points will affect:
Quality Score — This is Google’s way of determining the quality of your AdWords campaign. It’s composed of three parts: expected click-through rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience.
To be rated highly on Google’s 1-10 scale for quality, your ad and landing page must be relevant and useful to someone looking at them.
Ad Rank – This is a measure Google uses to determine where your ad will be featured on SERP’s (search engine results pages), or whether it’s even eligible to be shown at all. Ad Rank takes into account things like your quality score, your bids, along with expected impact from extensions and ad formats on a SERP.
When your landing page experience isn’t top-notch, it can have a domino effect that results in plummeting quality score, and, as a result, poor ad rank.
That means if you don’t provide a great landing page, your ad might not get shown to ANYONE. And that translates to failed campaigns and wasted money.
Here are a few ways you can boost conversions by delivering a first-rate landing page experience.
How to create a great AdWords landing page experience
According to Google, there are four ways to propel your landing page toward higher conversions. Do it by:
- Providing relevant, useful, and original content
- Fostering transparency and trustworthiness
- Making your page easy to navigate
- Encouraging customers to spend time on your site
Let’s get our hands dirty by digging a little deeper into each of these four points, shall we?
1. Provide relevant, useful, and original content
When search engine users click through your AdWords advertisement, on your landing page they expect to see information relevant to that ad. For example, here’s an ad and landing page combo from analytics software Domo that I found after searching “Twitter analytics tool” in Google.
Notice how Twitter is mentioned in the text of the ad, AND the headline of the landing page, as well as in the copy several times throughout. They even include a Twitter logo in a few places on the page.
This is an example of good message match. “Message match” refers to the technique of matching the content of your ad with the content of your landing page. This helps reinforce the reason your prospect clicked through.
If I had clicked an ad for “Twitter analytics tool” and ended up on a page like this, for example, I would’ve left immediately.
That’s because I clicked expecting to learn about software that would help me better understand Twitter metrics — but there’s no mention of Twitter anywhere on the page.
Avoid making this mistake by matching your ad content to your landing page content, and explaining your product or service with the appropriate amount of copy.
Here are a few other things to try when creating relevant, useful, and original content:
- Do not copy content word for word from someone else’s landing page
- Try to offer useful features or content that are unique to your site
2. Foster transparency and trustworthiness
Your landing page visitors won’t convert if they don’t trust you. They won’t buy your product, they won’t sign up for your subscription service, and they won’t provide their personal information in exchange for your whitepaper.
Use badges to alleviate prospect doubt while boosting authority, like this NetSuite AdWords landing page does in the middle and bottom of the page:
Even by quickly scanning we can recognize that they’ve worked with some big brands like GoPro, and have received several industry awards.
Also take advantage of customer testimonials.
Research has shown that 80-95% of internet users make purchasing decisions based on online reviews. Take advantage of this and boost trustworthiness by highlighting some of the great ones that your product has received (bonus if they’re from authority figures), and display the names and faces of those reviewers on your landing page.
Here are a few other things you can do to boost transparency and trustworthiness, according to Google:
- Make it easy for visitors to find your contact information
- If you request personal information from customers, make it clear why you’re asking for it and what you’ll do with it
- Distinguish sponsored links, like ads, from the rest of your site content
3. Make your page easy to navigate
Google knows that most landing pages aren’t connected to a website’s navigation (they shouldn’t be, but some still are). So here they’re not necessarily referring to “navigation” in a traditional sense, as in, the navigation bar on your website.
What they mean is, you shouldn’t make people hunt around for the information that they need.
“But…guys…how do I know what information searchers need?” you ask. “My landing page is connected to all of the terms that are relevant to my business.”
Well, if you have one generic page for all the keywords you’re bidding on, then you’re making a big mistake. Every AdWords campaign should have its own landing page, with content tailored to the search terms tied to it.
For example, let’s build off the earlier example from Domo. If that’s their landing page tied to the search query “Twitter analytics tool,” then they should have a different landing page tied to the search query “Facebook analytics tool,” which would feature information about how you can get “More bang for your Facebook buck.” And that information should be displayed boldly and prominently on their AdWords landing page, so that it’s easy for the visitor to find.
Additionally, in the text taken directly from Google’s “landing page experience” page, they specifically mention making your page easily navigable on mobile.
Fortunately, if you’re using Instapage, like IBM did in the example above, your landing page is already mobile responsive – which means it will display beautifully on mobile devices. Don’t believe us? Have a look at IBM’s landing page on mobile:
It’s easy to read, all the page elements are organized effectively in hierarchal order, and the lead capture form is right at the top.
Now, if you’re not using Instapage, you’ll have to make sure your page is mobile-friendly. Here’s a test tool from Google to help you figure that out. If it’s not, it can be a costly fix.
Here are some other ways Google says you can make your page easy to navigate:
- Make it quick and easy for people to order the product mentioned in your ad
- Don’t annoy customers with pop-ups or other features that interfere with their navigation on your site
4. Encourage customers to spend time on your site
In this point, Google explicitly mentions speeding up your page load times so prospects don’t abandon it before it even has a chance to appear.
They’re right to do so, because according to Kissmetrics:
- 47% of people expect a web page to load in two seconds or less
- If it takes longer than three seconds, 40% of people will leave it
- For every one-second delay in page load time, conversions can drop by as much as 7%
That means an e-commerce business making $100,000 a day could potentially lose out on $2.5 million over the year.
So make sure your Adwords landing pages load quickly by:
- Optimizing your images by using the smallest file size possible that doesn’t compromise quality
- Using a fast web host
- Switching off all extensions or plug-ins that you’re not using
If you’re not sure how fast your page loads, use the Google PageSpeed Insights tool to see your results. Here’s what happened when we plugged in this AdWords landing page from Fagel Law into Google’s tool:
Clearly it didn’t load quickly on desktop or on mobile, coming in at only a 31/100 for page speed.
As you see below the score, Google suggests elements of the page to consider fixing, and includes tutorials on how to fix them. Take advantage of this free tool to speed up page load times for your AdWords landing page.
Some other ways to encourage people to stick around on your landing page:
- Include engaging videos about your product or service
- Use the long-form technique to explain your product fully
- Add case study summaries to your page so prospects can learn about what your product or service is like in action
The Google AdWords equation for campaign success
Okay, it’s time to boil down this entire blog post into two very valuable equations:
Relevant ads + Great landing page experience + high expected CTR = high quality score.
High quality score + reasonable bids + big impact from extensions = a profitable campaign.
If you’re ready to take the first step to a super-profitable AdWords campaign by creating a great landing page experience, start here with Instapage today.