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Why your Home Page isn’t the Place to Send Ad Traffic

When setting up a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign like Google Adwords, many people automatically enter the home page of their website in the link field. After all, you want people to visit your website, right?

Unfortunately, following that logic is almost certainly doing you out of leads and sales. PPC ads should always be directed to a specific ‘landing page’ which may or may not be connected to the main navigational structure of your website. Here’s why.

A PPC Campaign Should Act as a Filter

During a PPC campaign, you set yourself a budget and create an online ad – or ads – based on keywords you have identified as being important to your target customers. Each time someone clicks an ad, you pay for it. What happens next determines whether that money returns a profit or is wasted.
With a PPC campaign, you have already begun to draw out prospects from the vast tide of internet traffic. The last thing you want to do is dilute these efforts by sending customers back to a generic home page. In most cases they will either lose motivation or lose direction completely. Your aim should be to create a consistent user experience, gradually driving your prospect towards a single objective – usually a sale or an email address.

Different Journeys to the Same Place

Whatever the product or service, different customers will value some features over others. Take a hybrid car. These are all the rage at the moment for their ability to cater to both the urban driver and the off-road explorer type. A car manufacturer might create a number of separate PPC campaigns and associate each with a different landing page. After clicking on an ad, the commuter type might be presented with a picture of the car against a London backdrop with features such as self-parking and internet connectivity highlighted in the text. The outdoor sports enthusiast (who, of course, could be the same person on a different day!) might follow an ad to a page with the car cutting through rugged scenery and the adaptive suspension and four-wheel drive features popping out.

By targeting landing pages to the precise persona your ad is aimed at, the chance of browsers turning into leads and eventually customers will increase.

Landing Pages and Web Metrics

Another powerful reason to send different visitors to separate landing pages is to help with measuring the success of your PPC campaigns. If you wanted detailed info about the shopping habits of people visiting a large department store would you get more useful data by standing outside and counting people walking into the store? Or by standing inside and counting how many people went into each separate shop? There is no limit to the number of landing pages that can be set up on a website and each time you create a new one your metrics can become more granular in their detail.

Landing Page Optimisation (LPO): Three Elements

The subject of landing page optimisation warrants an article to itself but it can be broadly divided into three elements which need to work together to maximise conversions: design, content and a ‘call to action’ (CTA).

In terms of design, landing pages should be consistent with both the rest of your website and the ad that the visitor arrived from. One newbie mistake to avoid is using the site-wide navigation menu on your landing pages. These should be hidden (or at least replaced by a more restricted custom menu). Landing pages are sometimes termed ‘squeeze pages’ with the content used to push prospects towards the only way out (“exit through the gift shop ma’am!”).

The content should also be consistent with both your website and your ad. This is particularly important when it comes to the keywords you choose because Google (in the case of AdWords PPC) uses the relevance of your landing page as one part of their ad quality score. This determines how often your ad will be served for the bid price set. If you promise apples in your ad but your landing page talks about oranges each click will cost you more – your ad may not even be shown at all.

The final element of a well-optimised landing page is a clear call-to-action (CTA). Never assume that your visitor will know what’s expected of them when they arrive on your landing page. Make sure the page contains only one sign-up or buy button and that it really pops.

Thinking in terms of landing pages instead of your website home page is a massive step forward when it comes to setting up and running a PPC campaign. We hope you’re ready to take that step and see those conversions start to rocket!

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