4 Easy Tweaks to Make Your PPC Landing Pages Work for SEO

PPC pages have become the cherry pitters of our digital marketing: they do only one thing, and cannot be adapted to any other purpose.

Singularity of purpose is fine in the kitchen, but In the world of digital marketing the more mileage we can get out of any single piece of content the more valuable it becomes.

That’s why the common practice of preventing search engines from crawling PPC landing pages can be so galling. You go to all this trouble to test and optimize a page that only people who click on a particular ad will ever see.

Wouldn’t it be vastly more efficient if we could make our fine-tuned PPC landing pages do double duty as highly targeted organic landing pages too?

Well, with these four easy adjustments you can.

First, Choose PPC Landing Pages Carefully

If you have more than a handful of landing pages that are very similar in style and content, don’t convert them all to organic landing pages unless you’re confident that you can differentiate them from one another in Google’s eyes.

Remember, one of the primary reasons we noindex PPC landing pages is to avoid duplicate content penalties. So you don’t want to expose yourself to this potential problem again by bringing every single one of your landing pages into the open.

Instead choose 1-2 top performers and expand on them as follows.

Tweak #1: Add More SEO-Friendly Text 

A PPC landing page isn’t competing with anything else for rankings, so its text is going to be hyper-focused on delivering on your ad’s promise and converting a visitor into a customer.

An organic landing page, on the other hand, will be vying with hundreds of thousands of other pages for rankings. So to beat out the competition you’re going to need a substantial amount of text on the page to ensure that search engines can identify its subject matter.

Search engines also take the ratio of code to text into account when ranking pages, meaning that the more text (and less code) your page has, the better chance it has of ranking well.

Adding more text shouldn’t be very difficult, since you should already know what the targeted keywords are for the page. It’s also likely that you’ve tested many different variations of your content over time, each of which you can simply revise and re-incorporate onto the page.

Tweak #2: Make Sure Your Call to Action is Evergreen

Oftentimes we use PPC campaigns to promote a particular offer or promotion that will eventually expire. So before porting the page over to an organic, crawlable page make sure that the call to action you’re using will stay relevant in the long term.

Along the same lines, make sure that whatever page that call to action takes a visitor to stays up to date, keeping in mind that organic traffic may be at a different stage of the buying process than a PPC visitor.

Tailor Your CTA to the SEO Visitor

Organic traffic tends to come from higher up in the sales funnel, meaning that people who reach your site from a search engine are not likely to be as close to making a final buying decision as someone clicking on a super targeted PPC ad.

ppc organic funnel

Your call to action needs to be adjusted to take this into account. That might mean going from “Buy Some Shoes” to “Learn More About Sandals.”

Consider the Unknowns of Organic Traffic on Your Landing Page

When tailoring your conversion path for search traffic, make sure also to keep in mind that you won’t always know how a visitor got to that page.

With PPC you know the term that triggered your ad, and therefore what term the visitor used to search, before they came to your site.

In organic search, however, Google rarely reveals the terms people used to get to your website.

You should know in general the kinds of keywords people use to reach your landing pages, but they could also arrive there via a link on a third-party site or through navigation or internal links.

This all means that your calls to action have to be more general. They have to be designed to focus on pushing prospects further down the sales funnel rather than instantly converting them to a customer.

Tweak #3: Reactivate Your Landing Page Navigation and Footer

Many PPC marketers remove their primary navigation and footer links on their landing pages in order to keep their hard-won (and possibly expensive) paid traffic focused on that page.

Organic traffic, meanwhile, expects to land on a fully functional website, and that includes intuitive navigation and confidence-building footer links.

Search engines are also using these structures to crawl your site and understand its layout and content, so make sure they’re back in place before converting a PPC landing page to an organic one.

Tweak #4: Incorporate the Optimized Page into Your Overall Site Structure

Simply taking down the Noindex tag probably isn’t going to magically propel your newly unlocked page to the top of the search rankings for your targeted term.

You need to be conveying its relevance within your site as a whole to the search engines by including it in existing menus and other internal linking structures.

Without these supporting pages to help give the new landing page weight and context, you might as well never have turned it into an organic landing page at all.

Important Reminder: Make Sure to Continue to Noindex the PPC Version

One of the big reasons why we keep our PPC landing pages out of view of search engines is duplicate content. If we have ten landing pages that are exactly the same except for their h1s, we’re going to be hit with duplicate content penalties.

The same goes for a PPC landing page that you’ve turned organic. You need to make sure that you’re keeping the original PPC page from being indexed by search engines so that your organic version are the only one they see.

As a quick reminder, you do that by adding this to the <head> section of your site:

<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex,nofollow” />

If you need more information about these tags or how to use them, check out Robotstxt.org.

No More Cherry Pitters: SEO Your Landing Pages

With just a few minor, but vital, adjustments you can have your PPC landing pages pulling their weight outside of the very specialized realm of pay per click.

By simply adding text, adjusting your calls to action, re-incorporating navigation and footers, and maintaining a noindex/nofollow status on the original version, you can have a brand new organic landing page that can start bringing in free, targeted traffic.

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Andrea Fryrear
About the Author:

Andrea Fryrear

Andrea loves to dissect marketing buzzwords and fads looking for the pearls of wisdom at their cores. Her favorite topic is agile marketing, which she believes holds the key to a more fulfilling (and less stressful) marketing career for individuals and a more powerful marketing department for business. When not scrutinizing the latest agile methodologies, Andrea can be found on the volleyball court, at the park with her two delightful kids, or baking “calorie-free” cookies. Connect with her on Twitter @AndreaFryrear, or on LinkedIn.

Leave a Comment

  • Hey,
    Isn’t there a correlation between noindexing Adwords landing pages and Quality score > cpc?

  • Afryrear

    Hi Vytautas – thanks for the question.

    I am not aware of any direct correlation between noindexing and an improved quality score.

    The main reason for adding the noindex tag is to avoid penalties for duplicate content on your site. Lots of Adwords users create landing pages for their various campaigns that are nearly identical, except for slight adjustments for the keywords they’re targeting in each campaign.

    By keeping those highly similar pages out of Google’s index then you don’t risk a penalty but can still use the similar pages for all your Adwords campaigns.

    My suggestion above was to choose your highest performing Adwords landing page, expand it and make it more unique, and then drop the noindex tag so the page could begin doing double duty as both an organic and paid landing page.

    Hope that answers your question. Please feel free to follow up if you have some evidence of a noindex page having a higher quality score – I’d be interested to see a specific use case.


    • Thanks for your in-depth answer.
      The thing is that sometimes you ‘can’t’ expand with more unique content approach with your similar landing pages because your tests showed that the best performing page is with low amount of content. That is why noindexing pages is the most attractive action to do.

      canonical tag was on my mind also but it seems not so popular to do it with ppc landing pages.

      All the best,

      • Afryrear

        You’re definitely right – shorter PPC landing pages are most likely to convert best (though there are certainly exceptions). This is something that would be a case-by-case choice I think, and would definitely affect the decision to keep a page solely PPC focused or move it within your main site.

        I appreciate your thoughtful feedback!