Quality Score: SEO Tips For PPC Landing Pages

Feb. 22

If you’ve been in pay per click search engine marketing for a while, there’s no doubt you’ve faced landing page quality score issues at least once. I’ve managed AdWords campaigns for dozens of sites. Thankfully, the majority of these sites have been multi-million-dollar category leaders with excellent landing page quality scores. However, a few of them have not been so fortunate. Today, I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts around optimizing your landing pages for Google’s quality score. Specifically, I’ll discuss a few SEO-style tips that directly impact PPC quality scores.

Tip 1: Meta Data Affects PPC Quality Score

Red Matrix

If you’ve optimized sites for SEO, you’ve definitely worked with the title, meta description, and meta keywords tags within the HTML head section. In the SEO world, these tags are extremely important – they directly affect the ad copy of your listing within the organic results. However, I’m here to highlight that these tags also affect your PPC quality score. Just think about it: The existence of targeted meta data shows Google that your landing page is part of "real" website, one that is well thought through and directly relevant to the keywords in question.

Some tactical tips: Keep your title to 8 to 10 keywords (or fewer), your meta description to 156 characters or less, and your meta keywords to 8 to 10 (or fewer). Moreover, make sure the keywords that you’re targeting are included throughout (especially at the beginning), but don’t overdo it.

Tip 2: Keyword-Optimize Your Landing Pages

I’m sure you’ve heard it time and time again: Content is king! This statement is absolutely true for PPC, just like SEO. It’s critical to not only keyword-optimize your title, meta description, and meta keywords, but also your overall landing page. You don’t need to go crazy, but it’s super beneficial to sprinkle your keyword across the page, at least a few times.

So, you have millions of keywords. Does this mean you need millions of custom landing pages? Absolutely not! My advice: Work with your engineering team to build a dynamic landing page (or a series of pages around the major themes), one that renders "customized" depending on the incoming keyword. My preference is to have a table on the back end that maps keywords to the custom, dynamic content rather than passing the content in through the URL string.

Tip 3: Leverage All Major HTML Text Formatting Tags

Another simple, yet very practical tip: Make sure to leverage the common HTML formatting tags. Some examples include <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <strong>, and <em>. The story behind this: You’re trying to show search engines that your landing page is well thought through. By including these tags, your PPC landing page becomes a well optimized SEO experience, one that shows search engines just how relevant your site is to the user.

Tip 4: Include Important Links In Your Footer

From my experience, there are several absolutely critical links that must be present in all of your PPC landing page footers: Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditions, Site Map, and Contact Us. Google is all about credibility and transparency. By including these links in your footer, you’re being absolutely open and honest with your visitors.

If you leverage AdSense on your site, it’s actually required that you have a privacy policy on your landing page discussing Google’s use of cookies. Moreover, new FTC guidelines require Ts and Cs, Privacy Policies, and Affiliate Disclaimers to be more robust than ever. I take all of this stuff very seriously.

Tip 5: Add Alt Tags To All Images

The title of this tip says it all: Make sure your image alt tags are descriptive and relevant. It’s yet one more data point that can help Google determine the relevancy of your landing page. Of course, it’s very important to be accurate and keep your alt tags short.

Tip 6: Make Sure Search Engines Don’t Index PPC Landing Pages

So far, all of my tips have been geared toward improving the landing page quality score of your pay per click landing pages. However, I wanted to close out with a tip that will help maintain your great relationship with your organization’s SEO team.

I highly recommend coordinating closely with your SEO team, informing them of all your PPC landing pages. Most of the time, you will want to make sure to noindex your PPC pages. In PPC, it’s totally ok to have hundreds (or even thousands) of very similar pages that may differ only slightly for the keyword in question. However, such a practice in SEO is very bad, one that would be considered duplicate content. The solution: Orphan your PPC landing pages from the main site while noindexing them as well. The user will be able to go from your landing page to the main site, but a user from your main site will not find your pay per click landing pages (and moreover they will not get indexed by search engines).

Image of Red Matrix © iStockPhoto – FONG_KWONG_CHO

14 Comments

  1. Ebook Lover says:

    Hi Ian,

    Thanks for your tips. It is so helpful. But I got some questions, Hope you can help to answer.

    1. As you said don’t index ppc landing page, Why do I still need to write meta keywords, meta description?

    2. How do you name the url of the landing page ( With Kw or not )?

    3. How do you name the file folder of ppc landing page , LP or others? Pls advise it.

    THX

  2. Ian says:

    Ebook Lover,
    Thanks so much for visiting my blog and for the great questions!

    1. Meta keywords and description are easy ways to improve your Google AdWords landing page quality score. Google scans your paid search landing pages for a wide variety of factors, many of which are common SEO attributes. Even though you may choose to noindex your PPC landing pages (a practice I recommend in most cases), Google will still crawl and evaluate them for landing page quality score.

    2. I recommend including relevant keywords in your paid search URLs. In addition to potentially lifting your quality score, it also creates a great user experience in terms of keeping a clean and relevant URL bar.

    3. Having descriptive keywords in folders is another great best practice for the same reasons as answer (2) above. I recommend using dashes to separate multiple word phrases.

    Thanks again, I appreciate the questions and hope that the answers help you out!
    All the best,
    Ian

  3. Hello Ian,

    I followed your blog from JohnChow.com and couldn’t stop by without leaving a small comment.

    I have to say that I love your website and the helpful information you provide. However, in regards to this blog post I would have to disagree with almost everything… everything except tip 4 and tip 6 and maybe tip 3. Please don’t take it the wrong way, quality score has gone into so much changes these past few years, things that used to be true in the past are no longer relevant.

    Meta data doesn’t affect quality score, you do not need to keyword-optimize a landing page (it just has to be “relevant” enough), alt tags on images have absolutely no effect.

    If you’d like to verify these assertions, please read the “Advanced Google Adwords” book by Brad Geddes (the only official adwords seminars leader).

    Hope you take constructive criticism well. I’d be more than happy to have a fruitful discussion about this or help update the post if you’re interested.

    Chris

  4. Ian says:

    Hi Chris,
    Thanks so much for visiting my blog! I very much appreciate it. More than anything, I’m excited to hear my blog commenting strategy on JohnChow.com is working and bringing bright individuals like yourself to my blog!

    You bring up some great points and to be honest I’d have to agree with you. Here’s the deal: Quality score has changed so much over the years and I’m always learning more. My take: I like to optimize for everything I’ve learned over the years. Whereas some of my tips may be more relevant than others, I still highly recommend all of them for two reasons. First, they’re the right thing to do from a user experience standpoint. Second, they’re easy insurance!

    Great meta tags and alt tags on images are so simple. I always spend the extra time to optimize them as a form of insurance. I don’t know where landing page quality score is going to head. Heck, I don’t even know all of the factors involved in landing page quality score right now (nobody does except a select few Google employees). I do know, however, the levers that have helped me dramatically over the years. From my past experience, alt tags on images and meta data has assisted me in establishing great quality scores. Even if it’s not as big of a factor right now, it very well could be in the future.

    Chris, I once again thank you for the comment and appreciate the constructive criticism. I look forward to checking out your site. :-)

    All the best,
    Ian

  5. Mark Barrett says:

    Hi Ian

    Top post, I’ve recently written a similar one after trying to explain to some people that their PPC campaign was not the be all and end all, and that landing pages were just as important.
    I agree with you, the above practices do no harm to quality scores and in my opinion and experience, go a long way to improving quality scores which is why, like you I’m a big advocate of getting landing page SEO right.

    When it comes to those that say Keyword use has no bearing on page relevancy and generally “write off” On-Page SEO for PPC, I find it funny that they are always promoting their “Secrets to Successful PPC” book for between $60 and $100 dollars and generally criticising people offering solid, helpful advice for free. (Just a personal observation I’ve made)

    Keep up the good work, just added you on Twitter and I look forward to future posts.

  6. Ian says:

    Mark,
    Thank you so much for the comment and for visiting my blog, I truly appreciate it! Thanks also for the kind words, it means a lot. I must say I completely agree with your points and couldn’t have said it better myself. I’m looking forward to following you blog and have added you on Twitter as well.
    Thanks again!
    All the best,
    Ian

  7. gary viray says:

    Every web page needs to be W3C compliant. Every landing page needs to be SEO crafted. IT should be intrinsic to all web page developers and designers out there. It is basically the way to go. All the bits and pieces you talked about in this blogpost are fundamentals of web page creation in the RIGHT manner. What is so hard about it? None. It is the way to go. Great article and actually, even greater comment responses. You hit the right spot again and again.

  8. Superb article. I’ve followed you at Twitter Ian, I was hoping you could reciprocate (Page1_SEO) :)

  9. Ian says:

    Gary,
    Thanks so much for the comment, I truly appreciate it. You bring up some excellent points. Being W3C compliant is huge, especially when it comes to purse on-page SEO strategies. Thanks again!
    Ian

  10. Ian says:

    Martin,
    Thanks so much for the comment, I truly appreciate it! I have added you on Twitter – looking forward to following your Tweets!
    All the best,
    Ian

  11. Oliver Smith says:

    great thanks, been trying to find out if it’s cool to use 100′s of similar landing pages without triggering lower QS or duplicate content filters. Can now get busy! Thanks :)

  12. Steve @ IKF says:

    Thanks for the post,..

    But I am pretty much confused that is it safe to use a PPC Landing page for organic results.
    Please revert if possible..

  13. PPC Ian says:

    Steve,
    I would recommend leveraging PPC landing pages for PPC, and excluding them (noindex) from organic results. There are some rare exceptions, but this has typically been my approach. Thanks for the question and for visiting PPC Ian!
    Best,
    Ian

  14. Neil says:

    I would of not thought that adding Meta data would help the quality score but I decided to test it out. Just adding it to several landing pages currently running.
    Even if I see a bump of one in the quality score then it would be well worth adding it.

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