I realized as I was meeting with a client last week that there’s a common misconception about how to optimize your website for search engine optimization (SEO) and search advertising (i.e. Google AdWords).

For both SEO and search advertising, your website plays a critical, yet very different, role.  The misconception is that a single webpage can be optimized for both online marketing tactics.  This is simply not possible and in this article I’ll explain why you need separate pages for SEO versus search advertising.


The Many Roles of Your Website

The primary role of your website is to convert visitors into leads and customers.  It’s no different than a sales position in your company, and you should judge your website performance accordingly.  Sure, you may love your new, slick design, but does your “upgraded” website drive any more sales than the previous one?  That’s the all important question.

Next, assuming your prospects search for your products and services in Google, then your website must also have the appropriate pages for Google to display in the search results.  If your prospect searches for “huarache running sandals” and your website does not have a page about huarache running sandals, then guess what, Google is not going to show your website in the results.  The first step with SEO is to make sure you have a webpage for each of your target keywords.  That’s SEO 101.

Finally, if you’re going to advertise, then you need pages on your site that perfectly match the different offers you’re going to make in your ads.  For example, if you advertise a special buy one pair of sandals and get a free running shirt offer, then you better prominently display that on the ad landing page.  If prospects don’t find what they’re looking for within seconds of clicking an ad, then they’ll click back and go to a competitor’s website.

So let’s recap:

  1. Your website should be designed to convert visitors to sales.
  2. To optimize your website for search engines like Google, you must have pages that match the keywords you want to target.  These pages need to be set up properly so Google knows they are 100% relevant to the target keywords.  The goal of your SEO efforts is to first get ranked in Google so you drive traffic to your site.  If you can’t drive traffic, then there’s no one to convert into customer :)
  3. To optimize your website for search advertising, you must have pages that match the offer in your ads (which also must match the keywords you’re targeting).  The sole purpose of these pages is to sell.  You’re buying traffic so all you need to worry about with your ad landing pages is converting the traffic into sales.

See how your pages optimized for SEO have different goals than your ad landing pages?  With SEO, your webpage must be set up to get ranked in Google.  Of course, you also need to convert the SEO traffic, but getting ranked is the primary goal.  With advertising, your webpage should be structured with only one goal in mind: get the highest conversion rate possible.


Why SEO Pages Do Not Make Great Ad Landing Pages

The temptation is to try to optimize your webpages for both SEO and advertising.  Sure, they are both online advertising tactics.  Plus, your website is an integral component in both.  But they really are different beasts.  A webpage optimized for SEO will typically not be the best landing page for your advertising campaign.

For one of my clients, the best ad landing page is simply a video that gives information and presents a compelling sales pitch to buy the product.  There’s no way we could optimize a video page like this for SEO.  On the flip side, the best pages for SEO typically do not convert high enough to be profitable on paid search advertising.

This is a very important concept to remember as you get started with online marketing.  Do not fall into the trap of trying to optimize your webpages for both SEO and advertising.  You must create different pages and optimize each tactic separately.