Posted on April 7, 2011
Optimizing a sales page presents a unique challenge for an online copywriter. It's not the same as optimizing a typical content page, where readers are willing to overlook a slightly unusual turn of phrase as long as the content is of high quality. In the case of a sales page, every sentence and every word needs to be flawless. The copy must continually direct the customer toward the sale.
Search and Sales: Balancing Priorities
The first concept to take on board when it comes to optimizing a sales page is that SEO must never get in the way of selling. The priority of a sales page is to sell, not to generate traffic.
While it's possible to drive search engine traffic straight to a sales page, obviously, you'll be much more successful if you provide optimized pre-selling content which then links through to your sales page.
In other words, you won't get good results by putting up a one-page sales site and trying to optimize it for a hundred different keywords - it's just not realistic. If you have a hundred articles, each optimized for a single keyword and each pointing to your sales page, you'll experience much better results.
Bottom line: don't ruin the sales effectiveness of your sales page by trying to over-optimize it in the name of more traffic. Traffic generation is primarily the job of your content, not your sales page.
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Traffic Sources - Where Are They Coming From?
How you intend to drive traffic to your sales page will have a huge effect on how you arrange and optimize it. As mentioned above, ideally you should at least have some optimized content pages driving organic search traffic towards your sales page.
You can also drive traffic directly to the page from the search engines by optimizing the page itself - but remember, if this is your only strategy your success will be limited, since a single page can only rank well for a handful of high demand keywords (at best).
On the other hand, if you intend to drive traffic purely by PPC advertising, optimization of your sales page will be a different affair. In this case, you don't even have to bother with keywords (although it doesn't hurt to generate as much traffic as you possibly can, of course).
The source of traffic is also important for the tone of the sales page itself. For instance, if the reader has come from a direct-response PPC ad, a sales page which is heavy on direct response techniques will likely deliver good results.
On the other hand, if a reader has clicked through to your sales page after reading several pre-selling content articles, a much more soft-sell approach will likely generate a good response.
Removing Decisions - Drive for the Most Wanted Response
The more decisions you force the prospect to make before they get to the "Buy Now" button, the fewer sales you'll make. As an online copywriter, you should aim to streamline your copy as much as possible to move the prospect smoothly towards the Most Wanted Response - which, in the case of a sales page, is a purchase.
Many site owners make the mistake of adding too many links to other information on a sales page. As a general rule, the sales page should contain no unnecessary links - and you should be ruthless with this. If you want to link to more information, always split test to see whether or not it helps the sales effectiveness of the page. Include information like frequently asked questions and testimonials on the sales page as much as possible.
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