“I’m fascinated by the landing pages report,” a client told us last week. She wanted to know why some posts continued to bring traffic to the website year after year — and why, in many cases, these were not the posts she would have considered most important.
At its simplest, this is an easy question to answer.
Often, a company has a specific keyword they want to rank for. You make wearable devices for athletes, so you want to rank for “sports wearables” or you offer cosmetic dentistry so you want to rank for “cosmetic dentistry.” At this point, the amount of competition on the internet for this kind of basic, generic search is enormous. You might show up at #1 for such terms for some searchers, but you probably can’t see your website rank for the most generic term for your goods and services because — realistically — your homepage is probably not the absolute best of the millions of pages out there for that basic term.
Even if you have a great website with strong, optimized content, you are statistically unlikely to be the oldest site with the largest number of high quality links and the best reviews, the largest number of supporting pages at your website, and so forth. If you are in that enviable position, congratulations. It’s just statistically unlikely because only a few out of millions are in that position.
So if you can’t have top placement for your dream keyword, what’s the point of SEO? That’s where your other landing pages come in. Landing pages are the pages that people land on — the ones that bring search traffic to your website.
Now, it’s always possible that your landing pages are bringing traffic not through search but through social media or referrals. To find out, check the report in Google Analytics at Behavior> Site Content> Landing Pages. This report shows you the pages at your website that people land on most frequently.
For most websites, the homepage will be the top landing page, but for our lab site, FreshPlans, there are four other pages that got more traffic this month. Choose Medium as your secondary dimension using the drop down menu shown in the screen shot below, and you will see the most common ways that people found your individual pages.
For example, we know that our #3 landing page, Pinocchio Lesson Plans, is #1 on Google for this topic. It’s the best page for this topic, so it shows up, on average, at #1 on the search engine results page. However, there are other sources of traffic to this page as well.
This month, 200 visitors came to this page through organic search, 37 by referral, and 14 came directly to the page with a bookmark or by typing in the URL. This is about what we see for all our popular landing pages. Organic search is the main way people find these pages, followed by referrals (primarily from Pinterest and facebook, homeschool and teacher websites, and school/classroom websites), and then direct traffic.
There is another Landing Pages report in Google Analytics, and it shows a different set of data entirely. Go to Acquisition> Search Engine Optimization> Landing pages, and you will see not the most common landing pages for your website, but the pages most frequently shown to people by Google.
For Fresh Plans, these top pages include Polka Dot Bulletin Boards, Mardi Gras Lesson Plans, and Irish Dance, as well as Pinocchio Lesson Plans. Often these pages are not showing on the first page of search results, but they may be getting more queries than some of your most popular landing pages.
What does it all mean?
The two Landing Pages reports in Google Analytics tell you which pages bring the most search traffic to your website, and the pages that could be bringing traffic to your website, but which might not be doing so.
This tells you two things you should pass on to your blogger or web firm:
- The pages that should get some TLC now and then, since they’re already working hard for you
- The pages that could do more if they got a little TLC
For FreshPlans, we can see that our post on polka dot bulletin boards could bring in more visitors. It’s not key to our mission there, so we might not focus on that page, but we know that getting it higher up in search rankings would be a practical idea. We can also see that our post on The Sneetches would be a good page to use for calls to action, since it is a popular landing page.
Which of your blog posts or products are popular landing pages for your website? Which ones could be moved into that position with an SEO-minded update?
Which pages and posts can suggest similar topics that might do the same job for you? Often you can get top billing for questions others in your field aren’t answering. Brainstorm some of these questions, figure out how to align them with your business goals, and get to work on adding content.