Here’s a fun little exercise for you to try: Take your website (regardless of the nature of the site) and perform a site crawl using a tool like Screaming Frog. Once your crawl has run, pick a page at random to analyse. I’ll use our own company site ewebmarketing.com.au as an example.
After crawling, we have about 200 URLs of text content (excluding image URLs and other media types). Using a random number generator, I generated a random number between 1 and 200, which was 103. I then arranged all alphabetically and selected page 103 from the list: http://www.ewebmarketing.com.au/careers/account-manager/.
Now, take the page you found and ask yourself the following questions:
1. What is the title of that page? (The text that appears at the top of your browser tab).
2). What is the main heading of that page?
3. Does this page add value to anyone’s life?
4. Would anyone search Google for a term that would result in this page being the first result?
5. Is this page out of date?
6. Read through the whole content of the page, then ask yourself, being reasonable, are you the first person to read it all?
1. “Account Manager | E-Web Marketing” – Is this a page where you can find contact details for our account managers if you are one of our clients? Or is it an opening for a job with the title “account manager” a little ambiguous?
2. Also “Account manager”. Is this still too ambiguous?
3. After reading some of the articles I realised the page was intended for an account manager role. However, as far as I know, we are not currently looking for one. Hmm. → See Question 5.
4. I Google’d “account manager at E-Web Marketing” and found it ranks first. But that is a long-tail query with high specificity and yet still a bit ambiguous in reality. Would anyone Google that term unless they had already heard about a position opening? What if someone searched that because they wanted to contact their “account manager at E-Web Marketing” ? They’d land on that page and find no contact details for their account manager at all.
5. As part of this exercise I decided to email the contact that is listed on that page to find that the position was no longer valid.
6. Luckily for me I have analytics, this page was visited 107 times in September and October last year. So this page had received traffic, and was likely to have been read in its entirety. We’re off the hook for this one. Or are we?
So what was the point of this exercise? All in all, the page I randomly selected proved my point – it didn’t add any value to our website and would not likely rank for any query that someone would search for (or more broadly, it is likely not going to fulfil anyone’s need or benefit). What if someone had stumbled somehow onto that page and was interested in the job, only to send their resume through and get the reply, “Sorry that offer was not available as of several months ago?”
It would have wasted their time. There’s another good question to ponder – does anything about your site ever waste people’s time? It is time consuming for readers when they struggle to understand the context of your website and your webpages. If, for whatever reason and through whatever channel, someone landed on your website, would they almost instantly be able to tell what your site is about or whether it contains what they are seeking?
This is why every page is a landing page.
Never assume that someone visiting your site knows you, your company, or what you are really about. If you start one of your blog articles with, “Shawn said XYZ to me the other day”, do they know who Shawn is? Treat every page as a prospective landing page for some long-tail or short-tail query. You’d be surprised about how people find your content and through which avenues. Sometimes you may be losing out on huge opportunities in your business because people are not finding what they thought they would find easily enough.
What are the good characteristics of a landing page?
1) If you read the title alone, it should tell you exactly what the page is about. Using our earlier example, if it were not out of date, the title could be changed to “account manager position now available | E-Web Marketing”
2) If you read the headings alone, it should tell you exactly what the page is about with extra detail.
3) The page answers a specific question or provides high quality information about a specific topic independent of other pages, in a way that is not found anywhere else on your site (avoid redundancy) or hopefully, anywhere else on the internet (avoiding duplicate content). It should also be considered that if someone wrote an article about the same topic, does yours have a unique edge?
4) Applying point #3 to online stores, if the page is a product page, is there enough information on that page to persuade someone to part with their money and purchase that product? To quote popular internet marketing author Avinash Kaushik, he said, “(Company XYZ) sells everything from a one dollar sock to multi-thousand dollar dress, and (they) have decided that because it is a very complicated thing to do, they are going to sell everything like a one dollar sock.” How much do your products cost? If you were talking to someone in person as a salesman how hard would you try to sell it to them?
Does your page for a $130 dress say, “pretty pink dress with a zipper?” Or does it have five paragraphs of useful and captivating information about the dress, the material it’s made of, the nuance of this particular shade of magenta, social occasions that it is perfect for, celebrities who have worn a similar dress at the Grammy awards, etc.?
To summarise, if someone saw only that page of your site, would they be converted to you and your brand/product? Because one page may be the only chance you will get to convert your traffic. First impressions online are often the last impressions.
I hope this little exercise and discussion gives you more insight into the power of optimising each and every page on your website. If this blog article were a landing page, would you be able to tell quickly whether it contains the information you are looking for? If not, well then this would be a very ironic article indeed.
Although I used our site as an example, we do maintain it monthly to clean up this kind of thing. I have asked our team to modify this page so that it says “applications closed” but I have left it there for anyone who reads this article to get the message.
(Image credit: Kdt. via Flickr)