Search for any term in a search engine and you will get a list of results. From that list of results you can click on any link directing you to a website.

Type a URL in the address bar and a website will pop up.

Follow a link from one site to another and land on a website.

How to get to a website is the easy part. What to do when you get there is the hard part, this is where landing pages come in handy.

Landing pages, in a nutshell, are the page of a website you ‘land’ on when performing any one of the above actions. Their purpose is to direct site visitors to perform a particular action, which may include reading, filling out a form or buying a product. The landing page is probably the most important page of your website, thus it should be created with extreme care, caution and expertise.

To begin with I think it’s important to give examples of what NOT to do. Vincent Flanders has an admittedly bad site, but he does have a great little Top 10 list of the winners for the worst webpages of 2006. The sites are a little scary, and also extremely bad but I’m offering them as educational material—seriously don’t copy these tactics:

Websites That Suck (I should mention that the rainbow effect of #4 is particularly traumatic)

Okay so now that’s out of your system. On to good landing page tactics:

1) Focus: The most important goal of your landing page (as said above) is to promote your call to action. Make it straightforward, simple and easy to complete, no beating around the bush.

2) Relevancy:  If visitor traffic is coming from those nifty PPC ads you set up, make sure the ad copy matches the call to action spelled out on the landing page. Don’t have an ad that says “Designer bags for sale, huge discounts with an attached link directing visitors to an online doggie treat store. (This is far fetched–no pun intended–but you get the point.)

3) Above the Fold Elements: In newspaper terminology this means putting sensational, interesting and newsworthy content at the top of the paper before unfolding it to reveal the real meat. In the case of websites, it means making landing pages compelling enough to create a conversion decision before scrolling down the page.

4) Aesthetics:  If the landing page is ugly, chock full of ads or just unorganized, nobody will stay long enough to read the first word. If you want to know why aesthetics are important, this is a reminder to revisit the above link. Simple is always better, adhere to it.

Hopefully this list provides you with some good beginning insight to the importance of landing pages. As I’ve said in blogs before, even though you’re not working, it doesn’t mean your website’s not, so keep those landing pages clean, focused and relevant. A good landing page will often times mean the difference between a conversion and a one second glimpse. That’s why it’s so important to make it work for you.