One of the most common questions we get at OTTO Digital is: “How can I optimize my site’s landing pages?” This is a great question! After all, you’re likely paying good money to drive users to your landing pages, so it only makes sense to put effort into making sure that users actually take an action once they’ve arrived.

But where should you start?  There’s no substitute for actually running tests on your pages, but if you’re starting from scratch, it makes sense to make sure you’ve checked off on these five landing page fundamentals.

Fundamental 1: Reinforce the search term

By definition, users “land” on a landing page because they’ve typed in a specific search term and clicked on a search result. So it might surprise you how rarely that landing pages actually reinforce this key piece of info that the user has provided.

For instance, let’s say a user types in the search term “online stock trading.”  I’d wager that it’s pretty clear what the user is looking for!   So, why would you send them to a page that’s labeled “Explore our Suite of Online Financial Services”?  Way too general and complicated for the user to decipher!

Make sure your landing page speaks directly to the search term.  It’s worth it.

Fundamental 2: Present a clear call to action

Once users arrive on your landing page, they are looking to complete an action.  Don’t make it hard for them! Give them a clear path to complete the task they came to accomplish.

Take a look at your own landing page with a fresh set of eyes.  Is the key call to action clearly visible on your page?   If not, start removing the things that are getting in the way.   Which leads me to the next fundamental…

Fundamental 3: Less is more

The biggest mistake most sites make is in putting too much information on their landing page.  Remember, searchers are task oriented.   They are looking for an efficient, easy and economic way to meet a particular need.  Make sure every word and image on your landingpage serves this goal.

Fundamental 4: Keep options to a minimum

All right, your user has typed in “online stock trading.” They’ve arrived at your page, judged it relevant, found a clear call to action and they’re ready to move forward.  But wait – now they have to choose between three different trading plans.   Suddenly this just got very complicated.

Except in cases where options can be clearly stated in an easy-to-read grid (like cell phone plans or tax software), it’s best not to confront the user with too many options on your landing page.   Keep it simple. After all, no one wants to make the wrong choice.

Fundamental 5: You have three seconds; make them count

That’s right, you have about three seconds for your users to decide whether to invest their time with you or to hit their browser’s “Back” button.  Think about your own experience searching and you’ll realize how little time you give the landing pages that you come across. Look at your site’s landing page and count to three.

How does your page stack up?

Like I said before, nothing can replace a program of ongoing testing, targeting and optimization.  But these landing page fundamentals are a great place to start.

Alison Terrell
Alison Terrell

Hi John, Great post. Do you have any examples of landing pages that are following the fundamental steps? Thanks, Alison


The web is a multi-lingual environment. By translating your landing page and conversion tunnel, you are making your company product and services accessible to customers around the globe. FACTS ABOUT INTERNET: 1. Over 65% of Internet users speak a native language other than English 2. People are three times more likely to buy a product available to them in their native language 3. Google provides Multilingual Platforms and crawls Web Pages in more than 30 Languages 4. Online foreign language markets are growing at a faster pace than the English speaking ones. 5. More than 20% of Americans Browse and Search in the Internet using Non-English Languages

BJ Wright
BJ Wright

Excellent tip list, it's amazing how bad some landing pages really are. We have a long way too go.

Wil Reynolds
Wil Reynolds

John, this was quick and easy to digest, thank you for sharing.


The post is very helpful for me. Simple but with solid message. Hope to see some kinda Search Engine Marketing tips. Thanks, Mello