The Importance of Landing Pages
Recently I had a client ask why we would want to send users to a landing page with a high bounce rate, when we can send them to the home page and get them to the page they are looking for in just a couple clicks. This brings up a couple important questions about the user experience and how does bounce rate affect your SEO rankings.
How does the landing page affect user experience?
It is always advisable to have a well designed homepage that encourages people to find the information they are looking for quickly and hopefully take some sort of action. Using the home page as a landing page is important for broad traffic, basic information and varied intent and/or goals.
Specific landing pages are needed for specific campaigns, providing requested information and encouraging specific goals. These should be used for paid, targeted advertisements as their main goal is to generate conversions. When users are shown an ad for say, rat control service, are directed to the website because they have rats and are encouraged to fill out a form to get rid of their rats, then they are shown a page that features termites, they can get confused and/or they were ready to take action and now have to work to find the information they wanted rather than it being shown to them directly.
The best way to determine this is what would you as a consumer want to see? As business people, we tend to think in terms of what is our business goal and how best to achieve that. But if we put on our consumer hats, we can more clearly see how best to approach the user experience. And if you did your keyword research correctly, organic users should always end up where they want to go.
Does bounce rate matter?
For SEO purposes, on deciding whether to use specific landing pages or a homepage designed to encourage users to navigate to another page, we have to look at the big question. That is, does bounce rate matter?
Bounce rates do not directly affect SERP. Simply, bounce rate is not a reliable measurement of quality. Blogs tend to have bounce rates of 70-90%, content sites about 40-60%, and service sites only 10-30%. Therefore, Google recognizes that the percentage cannot be used to determine the user experience, which is the main focus of SERP.
However, before you cast off bounce rate altogether, you should know that bounce rates can indirectly affect your ranking. Here’s how: Google hates pogoing. That’s when a user sees your organic listing, clicks on it and is sent to your page, only to hit the back button and click on another listing. This tells Google that your page is irrelevant to the user and their search query. In that way, you can use your bounce rate to see how users view your page. Are they getting the information they need within the first page, above the fold? Or do they see a large irrelevant image? Similarly, if you see a low bounce rate then you can determine that people are readily interacting with your page. (Beware super low bounce rate, as it may be a sign that your tracking is incorrect, but we’ll cover that in another article.)
In conclusion, bounce rate should not be the deciding factor, but rather the traffic source. Landing pages for specific, targeted campaigns are still important to have a really good user experience and for generating conversions. All general traffic should be sent to the homepage. And if you are doing your SEO correctly, your keywords will determine where a user lands based on their search terms. So don’t stuff them on the homepage!
Digital Marketing Manager