The main purpose of landing pages is to welcome new visitors, from a smiling face to opening the door wide for them. But that’s not their only job: landing pages also explain who you are to first-timers, use the right SEO keywords to appear in search results and keep enthusiasm peaked with their visuals and page design. Landing page optimization isn’t just about the page itself—it’s about the integral first step in a lot of your company’s new business.
That’s why an outdated landing page can damage your business. Even if it was up to date once, design and SEO trends change periodically, and new technology can make your once dazzling visuals seem… old. Not exactly making a good first impression.
So below, we share some of the best landing page optimization tips and best practices. We’ll cover questions like when to update your landing page and why, then explain an easy 5-step process to optimize landing page design.
When and why to update your landing pages
Nothing remains the same online for long. If you built your landing page a few years ago according to the design trends and SEO keywords that were popular then, by now those same styles and keywords are no longer at the top. They may still be effective if they’re recent enough—but they can always be better.
Really, the ever-changing nature of the internet is reason enough to update your landing page. Everyone who visits your landing page has seen a hundred other sites and pages in recent memory, and they’ll make a snap judgement about your company based on how your landing page compares. If they’re used to seeing the current web design trends everywhere, trends from 2015 make a company seem out of touch.
The same can be said for SEO trends. The kinds of keywords your customers searched for a few years ago may have changed, or maybe an even more popular phrase popped up that you’re not aware of. Even tech-like voice assistants (Siri, Alexa, etc.) had a dramatic effect on SEO in recent years—people talk differently than they type, so popular search terminology took a notable shift.
So that begs the question, how often should you optimize your landing page design? How long before your perfect landing page stops being perfect?
Although there’s no definite answer and different industries move at different paces, in general, landing page optimization best practices suggest every two years.
However, under certain conditions, you may want to optimize your landing page design even sooner. In particular…
- … if your competitors have raised the bar. If your rivals have stepped up their landing page game, don’t be outdone! You can even learn from their mistakes to one-up their design.
- … if you’re struck with inspiration. A lot of successful business ventures start on the whim of a good idea.
- … if you pivot your business model. Changing your target audience, service, or sales strategies automatically makes your landing page outdated for your new needs.
If now’s not a good time to update your landing page, don’t sweat it. These guidelines are flexible, and older trends can still be effective even if they’re not optimal. Just be mindful that the longer you wait, the less effective these older trends become.
5 steps to optimize your landing page
Updating your landing page doesn’t have to be a painful or exhausting process. You can handle it quickly and conveniently with these 5 steps:
1. Master the fundamentals
First things first, you have to check the foundation. Does your original landing page have all the essentials? Did anything slip through the cracks?
Landing page optimization is about fixing what doesn’t work as much as updating what does. So your first step should be to review the basics to make sure you have everything you need: headline, subheading, lead capture, powerful imagery, etc.
The anatomy of a good landing page doesn’t change as often as design trends or SEO keywords. The landing page fundamentals relate more to human psychology than user preferences, so including elements like trust builders and testimonials never go out of style.
What are these fundamentals? If you missed something the first time around, what’s stopping you from missing it again? It helps to refresh your landing page best practices, or discover them for the first time if you skipped that step before—you can learn everything you need to know in our complete guide to designing a landing page.
2. Identify room for improvement
Once you’re confident all the right elements are there, you can truly start to optimize your landing page design. The heart of all optimization lies in identifying room for improvement, even when most things are working fine already.
The trouble is, the trouble might not always be obvious. You may need to dig a little deeper to discover the suboptimal areas. Your first stop should be your analytics. The numbers don’t lie, so you can get some concrete insight into your landing page’s strengths and weaknesses.
In particular, pay attention to your traffic rates (the number of people who visited your landing page) and conversion rates (the number of people who actually click your call-to-action button). Conversions refer to the goal of your landing page; it could be clicking to another page, subscribing to an email list or following a third-party link.
Low traffic and high conversions means your landing page is designed well, but the problem is your outreach and marketing—focus more on social media, email, advertising, etc.
High traffic and low conversions means your landing page design is not convincing enough. Maybe you’re not explaining your product or service clearly, or maybe you’re using the wrong statistics or testimonials to support your point. In either case, you should reevaluate your sales strategies and presentation. Try using these design techniques to help build customer trust.
It also helps to take a sweeping look at your landing page and inspect the individual elements. Reevaluate design decisions like:
- color scheme
- background images
- call-to-action buttons
- the wording of your copy
- the wording of your calls-to-action
- page composition
- empty space
Try to put yourself in the shoes of someone who’s unfamiliar with your company. Are all their questions answered? What impression would they draw? Of course, if you want to know what your target customers really think, guessing isn’t exactly foolproof. The only surefire way to know is to ask them directly, which brings us to the next step…
3. Draw on user testing
Because landing page optimization is no joke, it helps to go the extra mile with user testing. Rather than guessing what customers want, testing gives you actual feedback from your target users to identify—in no uncertain terms—what works and what doesn’t.
For landing pages, split testing works well. Also known as A/B tests, split tests show two different versions of your page to many different sample users and notes which one performs best.
Typically, only one variant is tested at a time; for example, the only difference in the two versions might be the placement of your call-to-action button, or maybe the wording inside the button. However, you can always conduct a new split test to analyze a new variable—you can essentially use split testing on each element in your landing page that you want optimized.
Although split testing has become more affordable in recent years, if you’re on a shoe-string budget or just starting out, you can conduct these tests yourself among people you know. Just be sure that your test subjects fall into your target customer groups—if you’re marketing to teenagers, your grandmother’s reactions won’t garner much useful data.
4. Check SEO trends before revising
As we mentioned above, the search habits of people online change every few years, so you’ll need to regularly check up on what search terms are popular for your industry. Aside from particular keywords, the phrasing of the queries themselves change from time to time. For example, voice searches have shifted SEO best practices to favor long-tail keywords and question words.
Discovering SEO trends is an entirely different process than discovering visual or design trends. You’ll get more reliable SEO data looking at statistics than you will asking people directly. SEO tools can tell you exactly which terms can help out your landing page most, including the most popular searches with the least competition.
When doing landing page optimization, it pays to rewrite your text to accommodate new SEO trends. Your text has greater impact than just SEO, though, especially with the wording of calls-to-action—feel free to use the testing methods above to perfect your phrasing as well.
5. Change the style to reflect current trends
Even if your original landing page was perfect, you’ll still want to update the visual style periodically to look current. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: outdated design trends make your company seem old and out of touch.
You don’t need a thousand-dollar upgrade or tech-like virtual reality to make a good first impression with your landing page. A lot of the popular web design trends are stylistic choices—it’s less about technology and visual effects, and more about the user’s personal tastes and what they see regularly on other sites. Technology and visual effects are still important, but a smart and cost-effective design can do just fine on its own.
If you want to know what web design trends are hot at the moment, 99designs publishes a yearly review to help brands stay current. Here’s a link to our current web design trends in case you missed it.
As we’ve said, your landing page is an integral first step in a lot of your company’s new business. So make a good impression!
While this guide gives you the steps to get started, it’s one thing to know how to optimize your landing page design. And another thing to actually do it. If you find yourself overwhelmed by all the design decisions, if choices like “serif vs. sans serif” give you a headache, then you can also hire a professional designer to help you.