Web overlords often refer to "landing page optimization" when they talk about making users into "conversions." The user is converted when they sign up for the email newsletter, buys the product, drinks the Kool-Aid, etc.
People, we don't call Catherine (Offbeat Bride's Assistant Editor) "Superman" for nothing. Homegirl knows her shit inside and out, as this post proves…
While blogging has its crossovers, what the Offbeat Empire wants our landing pages to do is get readers deeeeeper into the sites. We want to show you what we've got, what differentiates us from similar blogs, and secondarily, to get you engaged with our various communication and social media touch points. Web publishing loves something sticky.
The strategy we're working on these days is to find older blog posts that are organically getting major traffic and, assuming that many readers hitting these pages from search engines are new to us, introduce them to the site and get them clicking on links. One example of this kind of "landing page" blog post is "Wedding invitation wording that won't make you barf," something Ariel originally wrote back in 2007 that still gets 47,000 unique hits a month. [Site trivia: that post is how Offbeat Bride's managing editor Megan first found the site! -Ariel]
Here are five ways we optimize these old posts to encourage new readers to stick around:
1. Graphics: The first thing readers notice about a post is usually the photo or graphic at the top. So we pick something a little fun or irreverent, which sets the tone of the site. I think this has a lot more power than we imagine. Seeing an image of a rainbow barfing unicorn or one of Ariel's signature altered photos lets you know we are having as much fun writing it as you are reading it. This was what hooked me onto the sites back in the day.
2. Address new readers: Assuming we know the post is a clear entry point to unique visitors, offering a welcome blurb is worth it. Something like, "Congratulations on your engagement, and welcome to Offbeat Bride! We're all about celebrating couples who venture off the beaten aisle." We can tell new readers we'll help theme scheme by linking to pages where there is more introductory information or leads them to places like the Tribe or submissions pages. Plus, this gives new readers an idea of the writing style and if the content will be a fit for them. Because sometimes it's not. And that's totally okay.
3. Deep linking for fun and profit: In-line linking to other posts is always beneficial. For these landing pages, adding in a call-out box with related articles and then including them again at the bottom is a pretty sure-fire way to make things easy. Bascially: "Here is what's related! Here it is again at the bottom in case you don't want to read through the post again!" We tend to keep the links on these landing pages fairly general too. If you need advice on homemade cleaning products, we can safely assume you might also need advice on composting. Or vow writing and picking dance songs.
This is also where we might try to hook you into our RSS, email, and social media haunts. Adding in a call-to-action like "What's next?" or "Where to go from here" makes things nice and clear. Especially for when you're bored and just want to cruise around the web without ever having to type anything until you reach the end of the internet.
4. Optimize copy for the Googles: Sometimes messing with copy on a popular entry post isn't wise since you might remove some of the SEO mojo. But if you know what keywords are bringing everyone in, you can capitalize on them by researching and incorporating similar phrases. But don't diverge in topic too much since the granularity of the page is probably what's making it so yummy to Google.
Sites like Google Insights for Search are great for offering alternative keywords and estimated popularity. Typing in "urban gardening" turns up "container gardening, city gardening, community gardening," etc. Still totally on topic, but reaches those long tail folks. Plus, it will tell you if the internet population is using a different phrase far more often. This is probably very true on a site like Offbeat Mama. That place is bananas with jargon I don't understand.
Google Trends will give you estimates on search volume so you know if picking one phrase over another will garner more traffic. And as always, linking the keywords themselves to relevant related posts also increases the search value of the keyword.
5. Monetize that shit! This is true for any blog trying to make ends meet. Whether it's via banner ads or relevant linking to opportunities to sponsor, capitalize on the small segment of readers who have something they want to advertise or are looking for a service from one of your sponsors. And of course, only non-shady advertising strategies need apply.
Now, go find the end of the internet and report back on the outside world.