Landing Page Optimization Part 2: Search Ads


Marketers optimizing landing pages often neglect to look at a key element in that optimization equation. The ad.

The Reason:

Testing results recently showed a 61% impact on conversion rate In Google for a particular ad with the first description line having the greatest impact on that performance. Display ads are being tested as well. This proves what many marketers have thought but there has been no easy way to prove. Ads impact the user experience and thus conversion rate of the landing page. Smart marketers are now going further up the user pathway from the landing page to the ad itself to optimize for metrics like conversion rate, average order value and brand engagement.

The History:

The purpose of the ad, to generate interest, has not changed since papyrus was first used by the ancient Egyptians. The ad tells the user a little bit about your product, service or company. The ad messages benefits and promotions. The ad sets expectations. If the user has arrived from an ad to your page they have uniformly expressed an interest. Your landing pages will have success if you leverage that pre-generated user interest.

The Best Practice:

The best way to leverage this interest is to reinforce the messaging in the ad on the landing page. Obviously the user liked what you said enough to click through. Make sure you bridge that second or two of page load with reinforcement of the original messaging. A second or two in the flow of a user experience is more than enough time for the user to lose focus or become distracted. Again, many tests have validated the effectiveness of messaging reinforcement (not only on the landing page, but throughout the conversion funnel).

The Ad Title:

Reinforcement from paid search should begin with the ad title. Many times the keyword will be the title of your ad. This is where the advantages of dynamic landing pages are evident. The ability to target messaging based on the keyword and ad is critical to getting the most out of your conversion rate by creating the most relevance. Dynamic targeted content delivery enables us to present a triumvirate of keyword reinforcement from query to ad title to landing page headline. This is likely the single most important optimization measure for your landing pages.

The Ad Description:

But let’s not forget my metric form the first paragraph. It’s also important to reinforce your description. Sometimes this is the most important part of the ad to optimize. Why? One interesting theory on this is that with so many advertisers doing keyword insertion in the ad title the SERP is full of exactly the same titles so the users are looking more carefully at the description.

Example: Your AdGroup for Bruno Magli has keyword match for a “bruno magli shoes” in the title however your description messages a current promotion in the men’s shoe category. The best route for this add is likely to a Bruno Magli category page (too often retailers do not have branded category pages, a large mistake since many users search by brand). On that landing page the promotion should be clearly messaged again. This may sound obvious but it’s amazing how many marketers don’t take the time ensure this type of reinforcement (as you can see if you click on the actual ads from the SERP link above).

The Visible URL:

The last factor of the search ad is the visible URL. Of course if your URL has the keyword in it you are one step ahead of the game. But what if it does not? A few search marketers have been effective adding the keyword to the end of the visible url after a backslash. While I have seen mixed results (though it’s never done precipitously worse) sometimes this can add a small factor on both clicks and conversion rates.

The Plan:

Much of your ability to do ad optimization is predicated on how your AdGroups are structured. This speaks to another important and often overlooked point. How you set your campaign hierarchy and group your keywords will have a lot to do with how well you can optimize your ads and your landing pages. One great practice is put your top performing keywords in AdGroups by themselves or with similar root keywords to get the most out of optimization.

The Verdict:

Optimizing your ads is the critical middle step in holistic methodology of optimization. Ad optimization both in display and search is a practice that is going to explode over the next year. The ad is the bridge between the user query and the landing page. It plays an essential and important part in your campaigns. Start taking a holistic view of landing page optimization that includes the query and the ad and you will see the results.

One thought on “Landing Page Optimization Part 2: Search Ads

  1. Search Ad Optimization – Advice from Jonathan Mendez

    What if your search ad is really what converts a searcher and the landing page only confirms the impression? According to Johathan Mendez that is what actually happens – and he’s got the case studies to prove it. First -…


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