Landing pages are essential to the success of every website, especially e-commerce sites. They are a visitor’s first introduction to your site, and possibly even the whole company. It’s essential to hook them enough so that they move on to other parts of the site and hopefully convert.

Done poorly, however, landing pages can have serious adverse effects. They might cause visitors to bounce and even increase the cost of your AdWords campaigns.

Here are some tips to make sure you get the most out of your landing pages:

Don’t overwhelm visitors

Some sites are so eager to share their product that they bombard visitors with tons of information on the very first page they visit. There’s no surer way to frighten visitors away than a page full of text. Keep landing pages simple.

Keep your copy crisp

Landing pages are not the place to get fancy. Messaging should be simple and direct. Address visitors directly about how they stand to benefit and what separates you from the competition.

Stick with a clean design

The design of the landing page should draw visitors in. It’s best to keep it clean and simple. Large images and catchy (but relevant) headings – and avoiding huge blocks of texts – this will go a long way toward keeping visitors engaged.

Use bullet points

Most visitors only give landing pages a few seconds. Make sure, then, to communicate only the essential information they need about your company or this particular product or offer. Bullet points are an easily digestible way to tell people what they need to know.

Present a clear call to action

Landing pages should make it as easy for people to convert as possible. The best way of doing this is presenting them with a clear call to action. Don’t complicate things with lots of different buttons and forms. Ask people to do one thing and make it clear how to go about doing it.

Videos work well

A good way to keep people engaged without cluttering up the page is including video. It lets interested users find out more without scaring them away. Just make sure the video is relevant to the subject of the page.

Don’t cannibalise keywords  

Landing pages can greatly improve a site’s performance in organic search by targeting keywords that are not addressed by the main site, but still receive a fair number of searches. Each landing page should target a distinct keyword, so that multiple pages aren’t competing for the same keywords. Not only would they be dividing potential authority between them, but Google might even punish your site for over-optimisation.

Optimise with AdWords in Mind

Landing pages are also useful to paid search. When someone clicks on a paid ad, you have the option of directing them straight to a landing page. Doing so can greatly improve the performance of AdWords campaigns, as visitors are less likely to bounce and more likely to convert. Plus, AdWords will award you a higher Quality Score for having a landing page relevant to your keywords, lowering cost and increasing efficiency. When deciding on landing pages, keep your AdWords ad groups in the back of your mind.

Don’t forget about pages in the core navigation

When most people think of landing pages, their minds immediately jump to gateway landing pages – those that aren’t connected to the main navigation and exist for the sole purpose of capturing traffic. But people can land on pages in the core navigation as well, especially category and product pages. Make sure these pages are optimised for their specific topics so you aren’t missing any potential search traffic.

Take advantage of tracking

Once you create a landing page, your work isn’t done. Keep an eye on it and see how visitors respond. Goal and event tracking in Google Analytics are your best friends. If users can convert directly on the landing page, make sure the thank you page has a distinct URL so it’s easy to implement goal tracking. If people need to click through to the rest of the site, make sure to implement event tracking so you know what elements on the page people are responding to.

These tips are a solid foundation that will help you avoid any landing page cardinal sins. However the key to true long-term success is to keep testing. Every site and every audience is different. Keep experimenting and keep tracking the results until you find the right combination for your site and your consumer.