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When the Best Paid Search Landing Page Isn’t the Obvious One

At Merkle|RKG, we’ve always advocated for using paid search landing pages that match the specificity of users’ queries. Users searching for ‘iphones’ should be taken to a page featuring all of the iPhone models available, those searching for ‘white iphone 6 plus’ should land on a product page for the white iPhone 6 Plus, and so on and so forth. However, as is the case with most rules, there are exceptions. Let’s walk through an example of how one advertiser found success using a category level page for some product-specific keywords.

Category Page Performs Better For Some Product Specific Queries

One RKG advertiser has a category of products that accounts for 28% of all non-brand paid search sales. Within the category, there are four major brands which generate nearly all of the sales, each selling a single primary product in the category. Each brand’s product is more or less interchangeable with the other three products in terms of use. While we had always used product pages for keywords that indicated a particular brand, per our best practices, RKG and the advertiser wanted to see how users responded to being presented with more options that would still meet their needs. And so we set out to test, duplicating our keywords for the four primary brands within a campaign, taking one version of each keyword to the relevant product page and the other to a category level page. Using Google’s ACE testing controls, we specified that Google evenly serve both versions throughout the test. After a few weeks of data collection, our analysis showed the following conversion rates (CR) and return on ad spend (ROAS) for each brand’s keywords, broken out by which landing page users were taken to. landingpage_test_results As you can see, the tests for the first two products’ keywords were pretty much a wash – conversion rate and ROAS were very similar for product-specific and category landing pages, and plugging in the clicks and orders into a basic contingency table revealed no significant difference between the two pages in terms of conversion rate for either brand. Since nearly all of the orders placed through the category page for keywords related to these products were for the brand specified in each keyword, we decide it makes the most sense to stick with the product-specific page for these brands. Product 3 keywords perform at a much lower conversion rate and ROAS when taken to the category page, and our analysis shows that the difference in conversion rate is significant at a 98% confidence level, above our desired 95% threshold. This is an easy call, and we stick with the product-specific page. It’s starting to look like our tests are just confirming our best practices. However, looking at performance for Product 4 keywords reveals that conversion rate and ROAS are actually better using the category page, perhaps due to slightly different materials than the other products. The difference in conversion rate between the two landing pages is a little below our 95% significance threshold at 86% confidence, but many of the orders placed through the category page contain items from brands other than the one specified, and we decide to switch the keyword landing pages for this brand over to the new category page. Conclusion Even the most well-researched best practices stand to be tested from time to time. In this case we found that the rule was correct in three out of four cases, but were able to find an alternative landing page that increased conversion rate 46% for an important set of keywords. Sometimes these tests produce no new insights, and we’re left confirming our current practices. But in paid search, as in most things, it’s good to know you’re right, and to be open enough to finding valuable exceptions.
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