1 is the Loneliest Number…
Standalone landing pages are basically a thing of the past. You now need to have substance to go along with that page, i.e., links to plenty of content pages relevant to your landing page’s topic. FAQ pages are excellent. You also want to include outbound links to “authority sites” for your landing page’s topic category. These can be articles, popular niche information portals, .gov’s, .edu’s & other academic references such as accreditation, as well as wikipedia, relevant Non-Governmental Organizations (SPELL OUT — WHAT DOES THIS STAND FOR?), online forums, trade organizations & publications, or statistical sources.
One major mistake with landing pages is to ask for something before you give anything, forcing a decision before adequate information has been provided. If your landing page is built to force a visitor to register to get any information they want, you’re going to have a higher abandonment rate, and this has even resulted in a higher Cost-Per-Click in testing.
By providing an adequate taste of the information they’re registering for in the form of text content and bullet points of features & benefits, you provide your visitor with the justification they need to give you their information and email address. You also give Google the explanation for why they should consider your landing page relevant for their visitor. Making these changes has also resulted in reports of measurable drops in CPC.
Don’t clutter your landing pages with superfluous images. Fit the design to the content, not the content to the design. If an image doesn’t have any purpose for the goal you’re trying to achieve, lose it. Without white space text just becomes unreadable because the eyes don’t know where to go first, and your call-to-action graphics get washed-out and become ineffective. Stay away from background images. They make your text difficult to read and your pages slow to load.
Don’t get cute with your links. Everything should be standard on your landing pages, since confusing your visitor is rather counterproductive. Making it easy for them to buy, inquire, subscribe, or enroll is your top priority. Use standard linking so there is no confusion. If a visitor can’t distinguish between your header, a link, and your body text, they’re going to go somewhere else. The standard linking colors are blue for an unvisited link, purple for a visited link, and red for an active link when the mouse is hovering over it.
Make your call-to-action obvious—really obvious. Remember that you are always designing for the lowest common denominator. Provide supporting content and links to references, but don’t overdo it and confuse your visitor about what exactly it is that you want them to do next.
After all, that next step is the entire point of your landing page’s existence, right?