This blog post isn’t to discuss the validity of landing pages. There’s a documented success rate of per campaign landing pages vs website homepages or pages with items other than those specific to the intended action. That is, landing pages are utilized to focus the visitor on a specific linear thought process that culminates in an action (like a purchase, subscription, etc.) so you should definitely be using them. In fact Google will penalize your quality score (relevancy) if you don’t have a page with the specific information you mention in your campaign. This is so that you can’t advertise for something you don’t really offer. The negative trend that we have seen happening for awhile now, is marketing agencies building landing pages for all their clients on the AGENCY’S SITE, not the client’s site. On the surface there doesn’t seem to be too much of an issue with this but as you dive into it, the intended results are almost always diminished. Here’s 4 reasons why your competitors love your landing pages.
1. Your potential clients are wary of the url of your landing pages.
Everyone who is on the internet has had a virus at some point. The number of stories we have heard about identity theft and fraud are numerous and constant. When you are using a search engine and are served results, the url of all result landing page shows up. If this url has nothing to do with your business, then red flags immediately go up and potential customers think twice about clicking. During this moment, they are much less hesitant to visit your competitor below or above you. We have had several clients where when we were doing our initial discovery, had landing pages on multiple websites that weren’t their company site. It creates a lot of confusion, especially since landing pages as a rule have no navigation in order to funnel you towards one action. The last thing you want to do is cause confusion by the url being xyzmarketing.com/yourcompanycampign123 instead of yourcompany.com/123campaign. Make things easier on yourself and just have your landing pages on your own domain.
2. You are hurting your own SEO.
I can already hear the conversation by agencies who read this. Over half of the traffic our website receives is blog driven. Imagine for a second how different that would be for us if the blog was hosted elsewhere but pointed back at us; that just doesn’t make any sense. SEO involves investment over time and builds just like a financial one would. Agencies who are hosting the landing pages for their clients are going to argue that their website has more domain authority and weight than your site does and that in turn is better for the client. This article in Forbes talks about how the wrong marketing agency can endanger your business. In it, they discuss how often agencies that use strange tactics based on SEO reasons are some of the most likely to cause problems. The real reason they host the landing pages on their site is because it’s easier. The alternative is that they have to build a landing page on YOUR website in the platform you used. You can imagine that as a whole, that takes more effort and resources. What it also does is make the agency totally evaluate your website. We have had conversations with many other agencies and they admit that some of their practices are for profit reasons only. In fact some of these conversations were the driving catalyst why AD-IOS now exists. Having all the traffic that you are producing being funneled through your domain will always be better than funneling a big part of it through someone else. Not to mention, all the traffic you are generating is building the AGENCY’S SEO because it’s their website. The ONLY exception would be if the domain hosting your landing pages was the absolute authority of your industry and they are vouching for you.
3. Your website is probably difficult to navigate.
There are a number of web design platforms now that are standard. Any agency that isn’t able to adapt to these isn’t willing to spend the time it takes to really help businesses succeed. Not every company is in a position to have a full web rebuild or spend thousands on marketing from day 1. Still, there can be many small changes that help move towards the goal of a fast, fluid and engaging site. Often with landing pages hosted in another platform, off site, the company’s website has not been properly addressed and the funneling of clients puts them in the middle of a website that is neither to navigate or conducive to an action. The best practice here is to have a plan that allows an agency to build solid landing pages while also incorporating that into a seamless transition into your website. This is most easily accomplished by having the website itself have a similar feel and flow to the landing page. We’ve seen clients with great landing pages only to have website bounce rates of 85%+.
4. Microsites don’t work.
Google has developed into a service that predicts what’s the best results based on your actions. You’ve probably noticed that once you’ve made a few searches, it begins to almost fill in the blanks for you. This type of AI is complex and is the reason that Google and Facebook are the leaders in the industry. Content and relevancy are the absolute most important factors in determining your Domain Authority. Google has stated many times that sites with very little content are not best practice or likely to ever be given a high quality score. Remember from our last blog that quality score determines how much additional or savings you will get on your AdWords campaigns. Having a one page website with almost no information (a landing page) will not play well with Google and you will end up paying significantly more in auction costs. Don’t be fooled, agencies who are selling microsites and landing pages for a few hundred dollars a month are just doing so to have a high profit product. They could just as easily have these landing pages associated with your actual domain. Save your money for digital investments that will yield consistent and growing results.
I want to reiterate that this isn’t a debate about whether landing pages are beneficial, they are. Instead it’s about the practice of agencies who build bulk landing pages on their own site instead of taking the time to evaluate the websites of their clients. As mentioned in previous blogs, your website is 60-70% of you overall digital footprint. If that isn’t evaluated as the first line of business then you seriously damage all of the other campaign that will be done. An agency who is really interested in your success will always explain all of these things to you. If they don’t, you have to ask if they are more worried about profits than client success.