7 Rules for Landing Page Optimization

User_focusThis is by no means a definitive look at what matters on landing pages. There are more than seven rules. For additional insight I would direct you to this three-part series on Landing Page Optimization. However, these seven basic elements are ones I’ve used consistently for many years now with great results.

1. Have a Clear and Direct Headline
Your landing pages should designed so the headline is first thing a user sees upon landing. First impressions on landing pages are as important as the offline world. Make sure the headline is a direct and simple statement of what the user is trying to accomplish. The goal of the headline is to bridge the moment of recognition so the user understands that the rest of the page content is aligned with completing their goal.

2. Place High Value on Whitespace
Users do not read all the text on a web page. Users scan the text and take away only certain elements that they use to make a decision if the page is relevant to their goal or not. Clean use of space allows users to scan and absorb key messages.

3. Deliver Your Value Proposition with Short Direct Messaging
Your value props should all be the answers to “why?” Keep them limited to three or four bullet points and don’t mince words. This is no time to get cute either. If users can’t quickly and easily understand the benefits of you product or service they will not hesitate to click the back button.

4. Have a Persuasive Message Directly Above the Call to Action
Every great salesman has a message they use to persuade prospects on the fence. Think of your landing page as your online salesman. Make sure you have one final strong persuasive message above the call to action. I find that bandwagon messages can increase user confidence and usually perform very well. An example: “Join the thousands of people that use…”

5. Large Red Buttons Rule
Tell your brand team to go to hell and throw your styleguide out the window. Red buttons can by themselves raise your conversion rate. Green can be good as well but most times in our testing if color matters it is red that wins. Also, don’t skimp on button size. Make users notice where the button is upon landing. Location matters as well but that’s something that needs to be tested on each page.

6. Call to Action Copy Matters
While direct messages can be very effective in the body of the copy direct messages in the call to action can be a turnoff. Words like “Buy,” “Add to Cart” or “Subscribe” that message commitment and a process can lower conversion rates. Softer calls to action like “Try it Now” that message immediacy (Now), but in a risk free way (Try it) can end up improving conversion by getting more users into the funnel.

7. Trust and Security are Still Incredibly Persuasive
Brand, trust and security icons as well as testimonials deliver confidence messages that can have a tremendous impact on conversion. Despite the fact that we are about 10 years into the commercial web, users on even the largest sites and brands in the world are influenced by these messages and images. You can see in this case study the impact that the Verisign and eTrust logo had on revenue per visitor for Audible.com.


  1. I think you forgot one of the most important elements for a landing page, which is that the landing page should NOT have a navigational structure. In other words, it should not have links to the rest of your site, so that the reader goes off wandering all over the site.
    Also I have found it to be very valuable to offer some kind of soft offer (white paper, subscription, etc.) and then have a form on that same page.


  2. John-
    Thanks for your comment but I have to disagree with you. I have seen numerous instances where landing pages that had navigation performed better than gated pages in an A/B test. The theory is that the navigation reinforced confidence in the site. In a way it served as a branding element.
    Of more importance however is Google’s landing page bot. The bot is looking for links and ranks that positively for your Quality Score. So now if you do not have links on your landing page you are likely to have higher minimum bid prices so not having these links can lower your ROI.
    The bottom line is that if your landing page is a good one users will not need to navigate to the links you present. They will click on where you want them to and where they want to….the call to action.


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    But I agree with the rest!


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  8. “Words like “Buy,” “Add to Cart” or “Subscribe” that message commitment and a process can lower conversion rates.”
    I am a bit curious about that statement. If you are selling clothing, what else could the button say, “try one today”? That just doesn’t register with me.
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