Thousands of years ago, the brilliant Greek mathematician, Archimedes, declared that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. And indeed, that is true. But as we all know, the journey to digital marketing success is not so simple. In our world, the path from point A to point B is fraught with swerves and stops, U-turns and lane-changes and seemingly endless forks in the road.
I like to think of those forks in the road as each of the different disciplines that play a unique role in online marketing: SEM/PPC, SEO, Display Advertising, LPO (also referred to as CRO) and so on. And within each of those roads are multiple lanes, each representing a separate function that work and move in tandem, like content, analytics and account management. These separate functions most often exist across multiple roads, but they are by no means the same.
If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed and thinking about slamming on the brakes, please don’t! For the purpose of this article, I’m going to focus on just one function as it pertains to two separate disciplines — content for SEO and paid landing pages [or LPO (landing page optimization)].
The Difference Between SEO and LPO
While there are some similarities between SEO and landing page content, let’s begin by pointing out some of the major differences between the two. First and foremost, SEO is organic and LPO is most often paid. The point here being that in order for your webpage to even rank well in the SERPs, certain, very distinct elements come into play. From an SEO content perspective, getting a page to rank requires well-optimized meta data and body content — not just for one particular page, but for the website as a whole. On the other hand, a paid landing page’s rank depends on how closely the content is aligned to the ad copy, but it can also be easily manipulated by bid amount.
To drive this point further, let’s talk about goals. The goal of SEO content is improve page rank, drive traffic, engage audiences and ultimately lead to conversions. The goal of landing page content is to convert. Period. Therefore, SEO content is written for the user before and after they click on the page, while landing page content is written for the user once they’ve clicked on the page.
|SEO Content||Landing Page Content|
The type of content used—how it’s constructed, its tone and voice, the length and language—is what sets SEO and landing page copywriting apart from each other and what ultimately helps each achieve its unique goals.
Think of SEO content as a big picture strategy. While the content on each individual page of your site should be focused on a specific topic and audience, its immediate goal isn’t always conversion. A website is made up of multiple pages, all meant to address your audience’s needs at varying stages of the consumer decision journey (CDJ). Therefore, the objective when writing SEO copy is multi-faceted.
First, you must identify your target audience as well as their needs and pain points. From there, through keyword research, you have to figure out how they’re searching online to find the information, products or solutions they’re seeking. Then, you have to carefully craft content and meta data that fits those criteria. If your content and website are optimized well enough that users click through to your page, that’s great, but you’re not done.
From there, it’s a matter of ensuring that visitors stay on your site and keep coming back. SEO content should give readers exactly what they’re looking for, engage them and guide them through the CDJ. It’s a cyclical process that’s designed to capture new visitors, turn them into customers and nurture them into becoming loyal brand ambassadors so that they will become both return customers and advocates for your company.
Research shows that longer form content works best for SEO. Gone are the days of keyword stuffing and formulaic copy. While there’s no doubt that SEO content should be written for search engines, it’s just as important that it’s also written for the reader. Therefore, it should flow naturally and speak in a voice that appeals to its target audience. It can be informative and descriptive when needed or it can be entertaining and conversational. Either way, it should always include links and calls-to-action that guide the user through your site to find exactly what they’re looking for.
SEO Content Is…
- Written for the user and search engines
- Longer form
- For reading
- For every stage of the CDJ
- Designed for navigation throughout site and social channels
- May contain multiple CTAs
- Keyword focused
- Audience focused
Landing Page Content
While landing page content does have some similarities to SEO content—audience and keyword targeted, engaging and informative—there are still vast differences between the two. The primary reason for this is because the goal of landing page content is to always, always, always lead to a conversion.
To achieve this goal, whether it be a purchase, subscription sign-up, or request for more information, landing page copy must be tantalizing, persuasive and easy to follow. The moment a visitor lands on your page, you have just mere seconds to engage them, so the way in which you construct your landing page is also extremely important.
As with SEO content, landing page content should be structured in an organized fashion, with headlines, sub-headlines, images and a call to action that are informative, yet concise. In order to quickly grab the reader’s attention and keep them engaged, it’s best to communicate your message in a clean, easy-to-scan format. Bogging your page down with lots of copy is not only going to clutter the page, but it could distract the reader from what’s most important or overwhelm them. We recommend using the following content layout:
- Body content (short paragraph or bullets)
The call-to-action (CTA) must be prominent and clear, and visuals, like photos or videos, should be used to support your message and guide the reader toward conversion.
The main heading of your paid landing page is arguably the most important piece of content you’ll write. It is the hook that pulls the reader in enough to make them want to read on. And while catchy headlines are fun to write, if your landing page headline doesn’t clearly state how you can give your reader exactly what he/she wants in one brief sentence, you’ve missed your mark. Sub-headlines are optional, but if used, they should help communicate the headline.
Landing Page Content Is…
- Written for the user
- Short form
- For scanning
- Designed strictly for conversion
- Includes a singular CTA
- Keyword focused
- Audience focused
As we’ve shown, the differences between SEO content and landing page content are not so black and white. In order to be effective, each must incorporate many similar characteristics, such as being audience-focused, engaging and organized. What sets them apart the most are their goals and the language, tone and online experience required to achieve them.