I recently read an article in Website Magazine entitled Landing Pages: SEO vs SEM, written by Aaron Kupferberg (it was on page 12 of the February edition for those of you who enjoy reading hard copy – as I do – once in a while). It was an interesting perspective and while I don’t disagree – especially with the example Arron provided – I do want to provide my perspective on this particular topic.
First, I have a pet peeve about referring to “Pay-Per-Click” or “Sponsored” search marketing as SEM because I consider SEO to be a form or search engine marketing and hence falls under the umbrella of SEM. That aside let’s get into the different perspectives on landing pages.
I’ll start with the example given by Aaron which was Zappos. He differentiated landing pages for SEO and PPC because of the business Zappos is in and the primary products and services they’re known for delivering. (I’m personally a big fan of Zappos so very familiar with their site!) I believe Aaron’s point was that for the search term “shoes” Zappos’ home page naturally comes up high (#2 for me) in the list of organic results because of their popularity for on-line shoe shopping. And since the home page isn’t entirely focused on shoes now that they’ve expanded to offer clothing, bags, watches and accessories it makes sense to provide a very targeted “shoes” page in the sponsored results.
However, what about all those search terms for which Zappos home page does not dominate top listings in organic? For example watches. Doesn’t it then make sense for Zappos to build a really well optimized page for watches that also serves as the landing page for not only sponsored listings but on-site search as well?
This is where I think you have to think about search as a holistic experience – considering sponsored, organic and on-site experiences together. By developing these pages that serve all these search avenues you save money and time on development and maintenance of these pages and you are much less likely to create a confusing experience for searchers who may enter your site from paid search one day and natural or on-site search – using the same or similar keywords – the next. You can also learn from the conversion and actions of all visitors and then break it down by search pillar to see how conversion rates and actions compare.
If companies started to look at organic search the way they look at paid (Specifically around developing new pages to address certain keywords), I think they’d realize there are gaps that need to be addressed for both organic and on-site searches as well.