Recently, the Google Ads support team has initiated efforts with advertisers that encourage brands to consider greater focus on both the ad relevance and landing page experience components of their overall Quality Score metric. Does this mean there may be an upcoming change in the algorithm that determines these scores? Well, we don’t know for sure, but it doesn’t hurt to take time to review best practices and ensure your ads and landing pages align with both goals and user expectations.
So What is Landing Page Experience on Google Ads?
Landing page experience is defined as a “a measure that Google Ads uses to estimate how relevant and useful your website’s landing page will be to people who click your ad;” whereas, those pages with higher ratings typically meet specific criteria and are often rewarded with lower costs per click and better ad positioning relative to their competitors.
Ratings are provided at the keyword level within your Google Ads performance dashboard, and are provided as one of three statuses: above average, average, and below average.
Google notes that an “average” or “above average” status means “there are no major problems with this keyword’s landing page experience when compared to all other keywords across Google Ads.” They also note that a “below average” status “means that you might want to consider some changes to improve your website’s landing page.”
Why is Landing Page Experience Important?
Aside from improving your overall Quality Scores within Google Ads (which influences stronger ad positions and can decrease cost per click values relative to other competitors), improving your landing page experience can also contribute to other benefits:
- Decreased Bounce Rate
- Increased Links & Authority
Essentially, ensuring relevant and interesting content is served on the landing page leads to improvements in both how visitors engage with your page, the rate at which they share the content with others, and Google’s ability to understand your page and the value it offers their users.
Best Practices for Landing Page Optimization
Google offers advertisers a guide on Landing Page Optimization and Best Practices, noting that their focus is on delivering the best possible results to their users. As such, they recommend brands and advertisers serve pages that are relevant, trustworthy, easy, and reliable.
Here’s a shortlist of Google’s recommended tactics to address these areas of optimization:
- Align the Best-Suited Content with Ad Copy & Intent – The best-suited page for an ad typically meeets the following critiera: the page content is centered on and/or includes the respective keyword, aligns with the visitor’s search query intent, reinforces the ad’s messaging by matching any call-to-actions, and also includes references to any promises or incentives cited within the ad.
- Ensure All Page Elements Support Your Ultimate Goal – avoid elements that may distract or confuse users from performing your desired goal, or that otherwise encourage users to abandon the path to conversion.
- Include Ad Value Propositions on Your Landing Page – users choose to engage with ads that resonate with their needs, interests, and motivations; so, it’s important to ensure that the landing page matches the ad messaging and aligns with users’ expectations.
- Make Your Call-to-Action and Value Proposition Stand Out – design the landing page such that call-to-actions and value propositions are written for clarity and are well-positioned to command attention.
- Highlight Unique Features– provide clarity as to what your product or service is and why visitors should choose to engage with you instead of your competitors.
- Tone of Messaging – make sure to match the tone of your ad copy’s messaging with the tone of your landing page, and be sure to also consider who your audience is and tones that may be associated with their behaviors and motivations.
- Be Upfront with Your Offer, Additional Fees, Etc. – delivering a first impression that is straightforward comes across as more honest and transparent, and will also mitigate instances of confusion or friction that could negatively impact performance.
- Make Contact Information Easy to Find – increase consumer confidence by showing a willingness to communicate with and support them. Consumers tend to convert at higher rates when they believe they can easily contact help or support teams should they have an issue.
- Ensure Your Page Copy is Grammatically Correct – avoid instances of unnatural language or spelling errors, both of which are often associated with scams.
- If Requesting Consumer Information, Clearly Explain Why – naturally, when consumers are asked for personal information, they are inclined to be hesitant. Build trust by explaining clearly why you are requesting the information, and ensure that relevant privacy policies are linked and accessible. Also, it’s important to note that users tend to only share their personal information if and when they perceive the effort of providing it to be less than or equal to the value of what they are promised in return for sharing it.
- Highlight Customer Reviews or Testimonials – showcasing reviews and testimonials—even those that are less than positive—can help to build trust with consumers.
- Limit Use of Pop-ups – avoid using pop-ups that may annoy or scare away consumers who expect to be taken directly to your landing page. Asking for too much information too early in their engagmement with your content can also cause unnecessary friction that can hamper performance.
- Provide Soft Committment Options – providing secondary, or softer call-to-actions on the page can help build trust and keep users who are not yet ready to purchase on your website.
- Verfiy Any Facts or Claims, and Avoid Exaggerations – build trust and mitigate negative reviews by making sure you can deliver on promises cited within ads (e.g. “24 hour shipping” or “largest selection”). Be sure to not mislead customers.
- Prominently Display Certifications and Brand Associations – build credibility by including any specialty certifications, awards, and reputable affiliations.
- Use a Clean and Concise Design – page designs that are simple, clear, and without distraction are often perceived by consumers as being more legitimate and professional.
Ease of Navigation
- Make Landing Pages Easy to Navigate – Google states the “number one rule for landing page best practices is giving customers what they want. Make sure that it’s easy for your customers to navigate their options.”
- Use Lists or Bullet Points – make content easier to digest with lists and bullet points—which are especially helpful to those users on mobile devices.
- Get Straight to the Point – avoid long or complex introductions, and help visitors immediately find the information they are seeking.
- Make Call-to-Action Buttons Sufficiently Large – design your call-to-action buttons such that they are large enough and obvious enough to attract attention.
- Make Your Page and/or Content Easily Shareable – Google recommends that all landing pages should have social media buttons displayed at the top, and that all images or video content should be easily shareable.
- Speedy Page Load – page load time is a major contributing factor for page experience. Too long a load time, and users are likely to abandon the page, informing Google that your page is not the best option to serve in search or display. Check your page performance with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.
- Provide Consistency – ensure you are providing a consistent brand experience to consumers across all devices (desktop, tablet, and mobile). This can be accomplished in creating a mobile-optimized landing page to use with mobile ads, or by ensuring the site is mobile-responsive.
- Optimize Images – the size and volume of images can affect your page load time; so, it is important to ensure that any usage of images is relevant, contributes to the user experience, and/or are optimized for size and load time.
- Natural, Welcoming, and Encouraging Copy – think of your landing page as the equivalent to a face-to-face interaction with your consumer, and use a welcoming tone to build stronger rapport.
Getting Started with Landing Page Experience Optimization
Typically, implementing any of these optimization tactics isn’t too difficult for advertisers—brand or agency—who have a solid command of website development, analytics, SEO, and paid ads. For those who do not, we recommend finding a partner who can help structure and implement a plan for addressing these areas, and who can help in measuring shifts in performance metrics and quality scores, ensuring desireable results.
In most cases, meeting these best practices can lead to lower costs, improved visibility, improved scores, and stronger onsite engagement—as well as increases in links and authority. This is likely to remain the case even if and when Google proceeds with a Quality Score update.
If you’re interested in learning more about these tactics and/or how they can be applied to your landing pages, feel free to connect with our team for your free consultation.