Landing Page Optimization: The Better Than Ultimate Guide

What follows is a list of resources that can be applied specifically to landing page optimization,  found on ConversionXL & from other great websites around the web.

We’ve organized everything to best simulate a visitor’s experience on a landing page from first click to final conversion.

To get the most out of this guide, please use each resource to focus on one area of your landing page experience at a time. Trust me, this will help you later on when you’re wondering what to test next.

I recommend you bookmark this page so you can come back to it when it’s time to create that next landing page.

Step Zero – Really Understand Your Target Market

Customer Survey

Do This: Really get to know your market. Conduct surveys & interviews to understand your customer’s pain points. If you want extra credit, make a list of websites they’re exposed to, and build a picture of what their “typical” online experience is.

Questions like:

  • Who are you – tell me about your age, job, position in your company, etc.
  • What are you using our product for?
  • How is your life better thanks to it?
  • Do you consider any alternatives? Why?

(note: If you’re a startup, you’ll want to use customer development questions for your page to resonate with future traffic)

These questions help you uncover trends within your market and tell you things analytics alone can not. All of this is to inform a landing page design that’s in-line with your target market expectations which plays a huge role in reducing the amount of friction it takes for them to convert.

The biggest problem I see in landing page design & optimization is that the page has no understanding of who the visitor is or their level of online exposure.

Ask MetaFilter

Surely, what’s “appeals” to a 54 year old mother of 5 who goes online to check Facebook and Metafilter will be vastly different from a Google Glass wearing, 27 year old power-user of social networks you haven’t even heard of yet.


Landing page design isn’t a game where you flex your own aesthetic prowess.

It’s about connecting with the viewer and communicating value as quickly as possible. The more you accept that connection is on their terms, not yours, the better your pages will be.

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Step 1 – Set Up Actionable Analytics

Do This: Set up your conversion goals in Google Analytics.

Ask Peep about analytics, and he’ll tell you,

“Metrics are there to provide actionable insight. You need to look at a metric, ask “so what?” – and have an answer.”

“Conversion rates for our top Adwords are way up. So what? We should increase our Adwords budget.”

Seems simple enough and yet “Conversion” Analytics looks so intimidating that many of us skip this step so we can get straight to making money.

Stop it.

If you don’t have actionable analytics you’ll never get the full story on your landing page activity. You’ll end up throwing away money & guessing at what to do next.

Take the time. Learn to interpret your analytics data and make the most of it. Your marketing budget will thank you, I promise.

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Step 2 – Make Sure Your Ad’s Message Matches The Landing Page



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Do This: Check the bounce rates on the landing pages you’d like to generate more business. If they’re too high and conversions are too low, you may have a message match problem.

To know for sure, look at the ads pointing to that page that receive the highest click through rates.

Does your page use similar language to what’s in the ad? Do the images in display ads re-appear on the landing page?

If you miss the mark on this, your landing pages are destined to fail.


9 times out of 10, messages in the ad don’t correspond directly to what’s on the page.

Ad images differ from primary landing page images. Ad headlines don’t correspond to landing page headlines and the page, generally speaking, is not what the user expected when they clicked the ad.

They land on the page and feel ungrounded. Where’s the headline that grabbed their attention?  At the very least, have you inserted the keyword they were searching for in some prominent place on the page?

No? This is the result of lazy conversion optimization.

Instead of creating one page and throwing multiple, loosely targeted ads at it, create a handful of highly targeted landing pages that focus on tight-knit group of keywords. If your budget allows, experiment with a dynamic keyword insertion platform to automatically insert the keyword into the landing page.

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Step 3 – Evaluate Your Landing Page’s First Impression



Do This: Search for your landing page’s primary keyword & click on the pages your primary competitors are creating.

The idea isn’t to copy what competitors are doing (they don’t really know either) but to get an idea of the first impression they’re trying to make.

See, It only takes 0.013 seconds for your brain to identify an image & 0.05 seconds for visitors to form an opinion about your landing page.

The opinion they’ve subconsciously formed in between 1/13th to 1/50th of a second will influence every decision they make for the rest of their time on the page.

First impressions are why it’s vital that your message match is strong. It’s also why you should be designing your pages with some degree of familiarity.

Is your page laid out in a way that’s intuitive to your user? Do your product shots meet the standards your target market has from their web browsing experience?

Because the brain registers information faster than your user can even perceive, if these elements are even slightly “off”, it becomes an uphill battle all the way to conversion.

This is also why we make a list of websites in step zero, so you’re not answering these questions blind.

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