The following excerpt is from Perry Marshall, Mike Rhodes and Bryan Todd’s book Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | IndieBound
Imagine you’re walking past a sporting goods store and you see an amazing pair of sneakers in the window. You walk into the shop and the sneakers are nowhere to be found. Or worse, a security guard stops you at the door and demands to know your address and phone number.
Not a great first impression.
Your landing page is the same way. When you make a promise in your ad, your visitors expect you to deliver on it when they arrive at your page. They won’t stick around otherwise.
Your landing page will perform best when it looks and feels like a natural continuation of your ad. What keywords or phrases made your ad sing? What colors or images got people’s attention? What ballsy promise did you make? Don’t lose your prospect! Match those same elements on your landing page.
Google’s editors look for this same pattern. They want to see an uninterrupted chain of relevance — a “scent” — starting from the initial search query, to the keyword, to the ad, right through to the landing page. Provide these key elements on your page and you’ll keep Google on your side:
A clear business model
If a Google editor manually reviews your site, they should be able to tell in fewer than 20 seconds what it is you actually do. How do you make your money? Are you selling a course, a product or a service? The editor wants assurance that you’re not harvesting emails in order to spam. Your page should describe what will happen once your visitors opt in and what value they’ll receive in exchange for their personal information.
If you have a stellar track record and have won awards or received stellar reviews and you can support it with verifiable third-party data, by all means say so. Beyond that, avoid making money claims or medical and health claims altogether. Google frequently suspends and bans sites that make unsupported promises.
You’re free to use testimonials on your landing page. However, if the results they represent aren’t typical, Google will likely require you to mark your testimonials with an asterisk and write the appropriate disclaimer. If yours is an eligible ecommerce site, you can sign up with Google Trusted Stores and display their trust badge in your ads and on your pages.
You never get a second chance to make that first impression, as they say. Invest the time and a little money on a professional, well-designed page that’s easy to navigate — the simpler the better. Your content might be fantastic, but if the design is outdated or user-hostile, it’s going to cost you. In the first second or two after your prospect lands on your page, they need to think, “Yes, this is relevant to what I was looking for; yes, there’s obvious value here; and yes, it’s clear what action I’m going to take.”
When your prospect first lands on your page, they don’t know you and don’t yet trust you. Before you ask them to opt in, convince them that you have informative content. Provide navigation back to your main site in case they want to find out more. Both your prospect and Google want to be assured that you deliver value of some kind without their having to opt in first. What’s the benefit of your offer? If your prospect downloads your free white paper, what will they learn?
Have this available at the bottom of every page you’re sending paid traffic to. It should be easily discoverable in your page footer. If you have a call-to-action button on your form, you can include the link right below it.
It’s not a hard requirement, but Google prefers that you make your physical address — not just a P.O. box — available on your site. This helps build trust as it demonstrates that you’re a real business with an actual front door. At the very least, you’ll need a working phone number or functional email address.
Have these ready if you’re using testimonials. In some cases, Google requires a disclaimer next to every testimonial; this depends on your industry. One main disclaimer in your footer stating that “Individual results may vary” may be adequate.