Optimizing Landing Pages for Search Engines and Web Users

If you’re hoping to get traffic to your website, then you need to think about how you will optimize your website’s landing pages for search engines, while still keeping in mind that Web users will be viewing these pages and evaluating your website based on what they see. This article offers 10 steps for building SEO friendly and user friendly landing pages.

When arriving on a landing page, Web users are looking for the following factors:

  • Does the page load fast?
  • Have they come to the right page?
  • Does the page fulfill what they are looking for?
  • Does the page appear to be from a reliable and trustworthy source?
  • Is there an easy to find and understandable call to action?

Failure to meet any of these factors on your landing pages may result in the user hitting the back button and returning to the search engine results pages.

[SIZE=3]Landing Pages and Search Engine Crawlers[/SIZE]

Search engines analyse the content and code within pages of a website and consider factors such as the:

  • Page URL
  • The Title Tag
  • Keyword Meta Tag
  • Description Meta Tag
  • Headings
  • Page Content
  • Images/Alt tags
  • Links (Anchor text)

Spending the extra time and work to improve your landing pages will improve your rankings and ensure you meet your conversion goals.

[SIZE=2]1. URLs[/SIZE]

URLs are visible in the search engine results pages (SERP’s) and play a contributing factor in a successful click-through rate (CTR). URLs with long query strings may confuse search engine spiders and prevent them from reaching some of the site’s valuable content.

Create URLs following the steps below:

[LIST=1]

  • Always use hyphens (not underscores) to separate words.
  • Avoid using stop words such as and, of, the, etc.
  • Use clearly named URLs that include the keyword(s) targeted for the page.
    [/LIST]

    A good example of a search engine friendly URL would be:

    [URL]http://www.mysite.com/dating-london[/URL]

    Note: In this document I am going to use as an example a dating website for Londoners.

    [SIZE=2]2. The Title Tag[/SIZE]

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    Text in the Title Tag plays a significant part in successful SEO, and is displayed prominently on search engine results pages, meaning it can be a winning factor for high click-through rates. The title tag is also crucial for search engine crawlers.

    Create the Title Tag following the steps below:

    [LIST=1]

  • Every title tag within a website must be unique.
  • Choose keywords that match the concept of your document.
  • Try and focus on one keyword per page.
  • Bear in mind that engines will display only the first 65 characters in the SERPs, so the meaningful message to the user should be within the first 65 characters.
  • Overall length of the title tag should be limited to about 90 – 108 characters.
  • Place the most important keywords at the beginning of the title tag.
  • If necessary the company name should be placed at the end of each tag.
  • Avoid over stuffing the title tag with keywords purely for search engines (remember this can be seen by searchers in the SERP’s).
    [/LIST]
    A good example of the title tag would be:

    Dating in London – Date girls and men in London

    [SIZE=2]3. META Description Tag[/SIZE]

    The content from this tag displays itself under the title tag in the SERP’s. The Description Tag is crucial for search engine crawlers and a persuasive factor for web users interested in your products or services.

    Create the Description Tag following the steps below:

    [LIST=1]

  • The tag should be as descriptive, accurate and enticing as possible.
  • Try and use all the keywords and key phrases in the tag that relate to the contents on that particular page.
  • Place the most important keywords as close to the beginning as possible.
  • Try not to exceed 155 characters including spaces.
    [/LIST]
    A good example of the Description Tag would be:

    [SIZE=2]5. Body Content[/SIZE]

    Search engines use the content in the body of a Web page to determine a number of factors. Most importantly they try to determine what the subject of the page is. It’s also vital to think of what keywords a searcher would use to find content like yours.

    [LIST=1]

  • Use the chosen search terms and keywords to guide the text and construction of the page.
  • Remember good copy sells, so write for users with search engines in mind and not the other way round.
  • Keep the content pages descriptive using plurals, synonyms etc.
  • Use keywords as early in the visible content as possible.
  • Try to include the keywords throughout the page.
  • Include the search phrase in the last paragraph of a page.
  • Occasionally using bold text to highlight keywords can help in some search engines.
  • Try and focus on one keyword theme per page.
  • An average of 250 words per page or more is recommended.
  • Do not use text that is embedded in an image or flash movie as search engines cannot read the contents!
    [/LIST]
    [SIZE=2]6. Headings and Subheadings[/SIZE]

    Liveshow

    Search Engine Crawlers view the text inside heading tags as important. They also describe the content of the page/paragraph to the user. In HTML the headings tag is based on a hierarchal structure ranging from

    to

    with

    holding the most weight in search engines.

    [LIST=1]

  • Always start the content of your page with H1.
  • Semantically mark up your heading tags from H1 downwards.
  • Use the same or a close synonym keyword in the H1 tag as you have used in the title and URL.
  • Avoid using the H1 tag more than once per page.
  • H2 to H6 tags can be repeated providing the paragraphs refer to separate subjects.
  • Never use text that is embedded in an image or flash movie!
    [/LIST]

    Main Subject Heading. This should not be repeated

    2nd Heading, this tag can be used multiple times

    The 3rd Heading, this tag can be used multiple times

    [SIZE=2]7. Navigation Structure[/SIZE]

    Avoid using JavaScript, Flash or image maps for links. Search engines generally only read HTML source code. They are making advances into indexing JavaScript and Flash but they still have a long way to go. Pages with unfriendly navigation or linking structures will not always be followed by the crawlers and some pages will not be indexed.
    [SIZE=2]
    8. Breadcrumb Navigation
    [/SIZE]

    Providing navigational assistance to users and crawlers, breadcrumb navigation shows the path to the current location. The breadcrumb navigation is generally situated above the main content on a page. Using text based links, this navigation helps crawlers to determine keyword relevancy.

    E.g. Home > Date > London > Girls

    9. The Alt Tag

    The Alt Tag (Alternative Tag) displays text to a user when the image is missing. Its primary use is to accommodate text browsers or browsers with the image function disabled. It also assists visually impaired users that are using a screen reader. With some search engines the Alt Tag will help improve the text content of your landing page for search purposes.

    [LIST=1]

  • Use text that fulfils the same function as the image.
  • Try to summarize it in as short a sentence as possible.
  • Do not stuff the tag with keywords.
  • Use a unique description for each image.
    [/LIST]
    Sherry London

    [SIZE=2]10. Images/Flash [/SIZE]

    Using un-optimised images or Flash on landing pages is a major reason why Web users return to the SERP’s before the landing page is downloaded. Large images slow down the page time and frustrate the Web user, thus becoming a usability issue.

    [LIST=1]

  • Search engines are blind to images and Flash, so only use them where you deem necessary.
  • Always save your images in as low a resolution as possible. This should be done without compromising the look and feel.
  • Save the image size in the exact format required for the page layout.
    [/LIST]

    [SIZE=4]CREDITS[/SIZE]

    This article was submitted to YNOT Europe by RIVcash, and the RIVcash team hopes you have enjoyed it. For more information about RIVCash, please visit www.rivcash.com.

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