It doesn’t matter how many links you build to your new pages. It may not rank in the top 50 either. Worse, you could get penalized if you attempt to manipulate your rankings with lots of unnatural links and not allowing Google to do their thing.
However, you can speed up this entire process by designing your website for conversion, and optimizing the landing pages properly.
The better your site is structured, the more chances you have to rank high in Google search results pages and stay there. Let’s examine some of the proven ways to do it.
1. Target your personas, not search engines
Who are your ideal website visitors, buyers, and potential email subscribers?
These are the people to optimize your landing page for. Before writing your landing page, you should have a persona/profile of your ideal customer. Is she a nursing mother or a marketing executive?
Here’s a good example of a persona:
You need to list as many details about this ideal customer as possible. Then write your landing page as if you’re having a conversation with the person using their own terms and style. The benefits of doing this include:
- Connecting better with your potential customer.
- More organic traffic as they use conversational terms to search (especially in voice searches).
When Michael Karp wanted to write about how to fly a Quadcopter, he wrote a post he thought would give the user the best experience possible. This led to 20,314 organic page views in 6 months to this post.
In addition, the post captured 2,335 emails. You can never lose when you write to provide value for your ideal user — especially after mapping out your persona on a paper or using any of the tools out there.
2. Develop a hierarchy before you launch your website
A site hierarchy separates your website content and pages into levels and makes your content easy to navigate for both search engines and potential visitors.
You probably have more than a landing page on your website. These landing pages could be for different products or purposes.
Will the landing page be a category directly from your domain name (for instance www.example.com/landingpage) or grouped under a product (for instance www.example.com/shoes/winter-shoes/landingpage) it’s meant for?
A perfect site structure will improve your organic listings in the search engine by providing site links.
Site links are basically the listing format in the organic search result that show your site's home page and other internal and relevant links.
You need to specify this hierarchy before you create your website. This makes your website more organized and easier to crawl for search engines.
3. Ensure your main navigation pages are visible in the header
Making your main navigation pages visible allows visitors to have access to the important pages of your website and improves the user experience.
What’s the most important benefit of having your essential pages appear in the main menu?
Well, in addition to the benefits stated above, it also reduces the bounce rate of your landing page as readers are able to visit other pages after consuming the content of your landing page. This tells search engines that your website has provided some value.
4. Adopt a clear and strong internal linking structure
Internal linking is one of the ranking signals that shows your website is an authority site. Linking your landing page to pages that explain some keywords about your industry shows your website is an authority on that topic and provides value.
Hence, better rankings for the broad topic. To raise the value of your landing page, link to important pages on your website, especially pages that already gain search traffic.
With the use of internal linking, the NinjaOutreach team was able to increase their organic traffic by 40%.
Likewise, links from important pages to your landing page will also help to improve its performance in the search.
5. Use SEO-friendly URL structure to boost ranking
An SEO-friendly URL structure is one that includes your keywords rather than just a page number. Having important keywords in your URL help your landing page to rank for those keywords.
Avoid a URL like this:
Instead, adopt a URL like this:
This is because the search engine is able to read the URLs easily and understand what the page is all about. Searchers are also able to know what your page is about before they click the link.
Some of the best practices to follow for an SEO-friendly URL are:
i). Make it short:
Don’t try to add every word in your headline to your URL. Decide the most important keywords for your landing page and add it to your URL.
You can remove words like ‘the’ or ‘and’ as they don’t affect the meaning of your URL. Long URLs are usually truncated by Google which means some of your keywords will be hidden.
ii). Avoid repetition of keywords:
Don’t try to include a certain keyword many times in the hope of giving it a better chance to rank. This could lead to a spammy URL structure.
This is an example of a landing page with an SEO-friendly URL structure from AgileCRM. You can see that the URL only has 5 keywords compared to 11 in the headline.
When you search the string ‘call center crm’ on Google, AgileCRM’s landing page comes at number #1. This is also a search string that has 1,000+ search volume per month.
That’s a decent amount of traffic to the website. This also shows the importance of an SEO-friendly URL.
6. Optimize your landing pages for long-tail searches
In most industries, today, ranking for the short and popular keywords may be almost impossible due to the level of competition. That’s why it’s a bad strategy to work towards it.
One other thing is that you don’t know the intent of someone searching for that keyword. For instance, someone searching ‘shoe’ shows no intent. It could be for research purposes or to buy or to get an information.
Sure, ranking for such a keyword will lead to a lot of organic traffic. But a large number of them will have a different intent to what’s on your landing page.
However, optimizing for long-tail keywords gives you these potential benefits:
- Lower competition
- A better target of search intent
- Better conversion
Even though long-tail keywords have low volumes, they make up 70% of search traffic.
In a study by a New York-based SaaS company, Conductor, they found that in 9 months, long-tail keywords accounted for more rank movement than head keywords.
7. Identify and fix your website’s technical SEO Issues
As the popular saying goes, don’t fix it if it isn’t broken. But you have to be vigilant when it comes to your website’s SEO. Because many things could be broken while you’re ignorant of them.
What are the common technical SEO issues you can have on your website that can negatively impact your search rankings?
i). No Indexation:
If your page does not show up on Google, there's no way you can get organic traffic from it. First of all, you have to know that your page is visible to the search engine crawlers. You want to be sure that your website is indexed.
You can do this for your whole website using the search string ‘site:yoursitename.com’.
This will bring out all the pages on your website that have been indexed by Google. You can also use the search string ‘site:yoursitename.com landing page title’ to see if your landing page is indexed.
If it’s not, you have to check for the possible reasons and resolve them.
ii). Submit XML Sitemap:
This helps search engines to crawl and index your website pages. You can submit your sitemap on the Google webmaster tools or the Bing webmaster tools.
iii). Missing Title or Description Tags:
The title tag is used to indicate the overall theme or topic of your website. This can make it easier for the search engines when people search for keywords in that topic.
iv). HTTPS Address:
The https address shows websites that are safe for users especially if they take credit card payments. Regardless of taking payments, Google takes users’ safety as one of its ranking factors.
By July 2018, Google will brand every website using HTTP as ‘Not secure’ in the Chrome browser. This could only have a negative impact on your landing page.
v). Images Text:
It’s important to apply the alt text to images you use on your landing pages (and website in general). This helps search engines know what your picture is about when ranking results for image search.
vi). Rel=canonical tag:
Many times, it's possible to have more than a single address leads to the same page. This can cause confusion for search engines and even if all these address rank, it would split the authority of the page.
To avoid this, you use the rel=canonical tag to specify the preferred address Google should rank. With this, only one address builds authority and you avoid duplicate content. You can rank your page faster this way.
vii). Increase the Speed of Your Website:
Speed is one of the determinants of your ranking as it affects the user experience. Some of the steps you can take to optimize your site for speed are:
- Use small image files
- Reduce the scripts on the page
- Reduce page elements
As Seth Godin said years ago, every page should have the same goals as a landing page. For every visitor on your website, they have to land on a page even if it's not a ‘landing’ page.
A landing page should have an objective and be optimized to fulfill it as effectively as possible. Getting more organic traffic gives your landing page more opportunity to capture more leads.
I’d love to hear from you, which of these website design best practices have you implemented already? Feel free to share your results with us.