Landing Page Makeover Clinic #1:

Landing Page Makeover

This is another addition to our ongoing series of tutorials and case studies on landing pages that work.

At long last, after much thinking, the day has arrived. I’m thrilled to announce that Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz agreed to step up and subject his landing page to scrutiny as my official makeover candidate. I’ve outlined the basic background information below. The 10-point critique and bonus recommendations follow.

Here’s what’s going on over at SEOmoz.

  • The Goal:
    Increase the number of new visitor subscribers to the SEOmoz premium content by a minimum of 1%.
  • The Problem:
    Regular readers of blog convert well. Converting non-blog readers – those not already familiar with SEOmoz – are converting at a dismal .05%.
  • The Current Landing Page:
  • Page/Ad that Generates the Click-Through:
    Home page link, inline blog ads, and various other efforts.

The Maven’s 10-Point Critique:

SEOmoz Premium MembershipClick image for larger view

1. Remove all the extraneous material from the most valuable real estate on your landing page – the area “above the fold”, the visitor’s first screen view.

Eliminate all the sign-ins, search and navigational links. They are all reasons and exits from the landing page and your message.

2. Add a compelling, benefit-rich headline.

Where’s the headline establishing the promise to the visitor right up front? This is a page filled with benefits and features but there’s no central headline that encapsulates the value proposition of the product offering. Your headline has to open the dialog with the visitor and begin the process of answering the question – “What’s in it for me?” This is especially critical for the “cold” visitor who has no prior relationship with you.

3. Redo the black box/reverse type section, add your first strong testimonial here.

Although the visual is in keeping with the look of the blog, the reverse type make it difficult to read and the organization of the features is a mess. I’d eliminate the laundry list, concentrate on no more than 3-5 of the strongest benefits and add a strong testimonial here, as well. Remember, what others say about you is more important than what you say about yourself. Use your testimonials to highlight your copy, matching benefit to testimonial as best as you can. (Nice use of photos with testimonials. It lends an extra layer of credibility.)

4. Consider a 2-column format.

Your current 1-column format forces too much of the promotional content below the fold. A 2-column format would allow you to bring up your first call-to-action in the first screen and a large number of your most important testimonials adjacent to the content.

5. Start “building your case” with a strong, introductory paragraph.

Your copy kicks off telling visitors what they’ll get with the premium service, but not why they need it – and need it from you. Orient them, empathize with them, give them the context as to why this premium content will make their work easier and make them look smarter. Free SEO tools and available content are your strongest competitor. Your copy has to address the value of making a $299 investment throughout. Testimonials that speak to value are critical.

SEOmoz Premium MembershipClick image for larger view

6. Punch up the subheads with benefit-specific copy; Introduce the “What do I get” specifics much earlier in the page.

Current subheads are weak and self-serving. Focus on value, exclusivity, authoritative information that’s recognized by experts, etc. to lower the visitor’s resistance to your sales message. The “laundry list” of membership goodies appear much too late in the copy. Here’s where you should begin to pile on the stuff of what visitor’s will get. Organize the feature set more tightly and edit, edit, edit. The paragraph line lengths are too long, no more than 3-5 lines per paragraph. Add some visual relief to the text. Use the icons you’re currently using in the black box and add them here.

7. Use pop-ups or other click devices so that visitors can get additional information without leaving the landing page.

The visitor is sent constantly off-page to view important content. Every click away is a customer lost. Also, not all of the links are useful. I don’t need to see the hundreds of other premium members. What I need to see/read are solid reasons to spend my money. Eliminate any information that doesn’t make or support your value proposition. Every word and image has to communicate the value of your premium content offering to the visitor.

SEOmoz Premium Membership Landing PageClick image for larger view

8. Eliminate the passive 3rd person voice from your copy.

Passive voice, 3rd person writing drains energy and excitement from your copy. (Works well for delivering bad news, though :=) … So, for example, I’d revise “Premium Membership Gets You” to something like “Here’s what you’ll get as a SEOmoz Premium Member.” Change every “they” to you. Don’t tell me about a feature, tell me how I’d use it, how I’d benefit from using it. Also, keep reminding the visitor that the content is exclusive, only available through membership.

9. Add additional calls-to-action throughout the copy.

With a $299 price tag, there’s no question that even a new landing page will need to run longer than a single screen. Make sure you use call-to-action buttons and links throughout. At least one per general screen view.

SEOmoz Premium Membership Landing Page
Click image for larger view

10. Simplify the pricing offer and registration information. Too many choices paralyze and confuse.

A couple of thoughts here. I might try only 2 prices – Monthly Pay As You Go: easy in, easy out, allows the visitor to try it without a lot of risk and 12-month “Best-Buy” Savings. This way you’ve cleanly distinguished between 2 benefits – perceived risk reduction and significant savings.

As far as the sign-up goes, I found it confusing. Here I’d like to see two boxes that clearly indicate – “New to SEOmoz? Begin your membership here” or “Current SEOmoz Reader? Upgrade to membership here.”


  • In the copy, call your prospects members OR subscribers, but not both. They are not equivalents.
  • Remove the language about the 12-month price never going up. New subscribers care more about risk.
  • Add a satisfaction guarantee to the 12-month membership. It will help the fence sitters move to the 12-month subscription for the savings if they know they can cancel at any time without penalty. Very few customers will exercise the option.
  • Add more visual pop to your credibility boosters. Add “As seen in Newsweek” or other high-visibility media names , etc.” in a burst-type graphic in the top screen.
  • Use dollars saved instead of percentage saved. Visitors can more easily figure out the math and value of your offer.

Encourage visitors to act now, right now. Add an offer deadline, encourage immediate action with a few valuable freebies.

My thanks and appreciation to Rand for being the inaugural makeover and for his support of Heifer International.

The Clinic is Open

Here’s your chance to be the Copywriting Maven’s next landing page makeover!

Got a landing page that’s more poop than pop? Willing to share with Copyblogger readers? Prepared to put a little of your own “skin in the game” for a Maven Makeover? Then follow your click to Maven’s Landing Page Makeover page for all the details.

Roberta Rosenberg is The Copywriting Maven at MGP Direct, Inc.

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Reader Comments (76)

  1. says

    This is a 5 star post. Worth printing and putting in a binder.

    I constantly struggle with landing pages. This article is what I needed.

    Thank You !

  2. says

    This is the first case-study of a real life landing page optimization that I’ve seen. Very helpful for someone like me who is trying hard to build subscribers.

    Thanks for this.

  3. says

    Great post! Step 7 was a great reminder to me (I’m revising a landing page this week), and Step 8 (“Eliminate the passive 3rd person voice from your copy”) should be burned right across the top of every copywriter’s monitor.

    More gold.

  4. says

    Good article, though I was surprised at the suggestion of going with a 2-column layout. When I think “effective landing page,” I tend to think about a single-column layout.

  5. says

    So… will we ever know if your suggestions actually increase their conversions, or is this just all theory?

    I’m not putting down the post which is a great read, just that with my experience, what you think will happen when you make a change to a landing page, and what really happens, are often two separate things.

  6. says

    So… will we ever know if your suggestions actually increase their conversions, or is this just all theory?

    David, stay tuned… next Monday we’ll have an announcement that will provide you access to that very information.

  7. says

    No fear! From time to time, I’ll be doing follow-ups with all the Clinic participants for sharing here — because ultimately, it’s all about the numbers.

  8. says

    This post offers a series of great improvements. The only things I’d change as far as the recommendations go is to make sure the value is represented (both content-wise and visually) in the upper-left region of the landing page; this is the place visitors will almost always look first. Put a great testimonial or review in the upper right corner, then immediately under that give them the ability to opt-in right away. Then you can single-column it the rest of the way, prioritizing the most important information, and then staggering additional opt-ins as the page scrolls down.

  9. says

    Roberta and Brian,

    Congratulations on this excellent post and this really useful service. As a regular SEOmoz reader, I am glad you could shed some light as to how they can increase conversions.

    Expect to be inundated with requests (mine included) 😉

  10. Patrick says

    What has happened with SEOBook’s conversion rate, btw? I’m a regular reader of his blog and at some time Aaron Wall said that the results from his PPC campaign looked promising, but that hed need to collect more data to have a statistically significant sample…but that’s been quite a while ever since?

    And well he has stuck with your new copy for SEOBook..have you guys forgotten about it?^^ or still not enough data?

  11. says

    That is a wealth of information. I will definetly be applying some of these steps to my websites. Thanks a lot!

  12. says

    And well he has stuck with your new copy for SEOBook..have you guys forgotten about it?

    Patrick, Aaron did do testing and concluded that his conversions went up after switching to the new copy, which is why it’s still in use. :) What matters most to Aaron is sales, of course. I’m not a liberty to divulge his sales figures, but he now makes more than he ever has from his book, and his current daily sales figures would make your jaw drop.

  13. says

    Spot on! Having been to SEOMOZ many times, I can agree with this article. I always felt a little muddled, though I knew there was some good stuff in there somewhere, if I could just get past the distractions. I am interested to see which points get implemented over time.

  14. says

    Having searched Google for something along the lines of email marketing stats, i came across a number of sites independently highlighting that Newsletters work better than single point of sale emails…

    im currently working on an interim site to support adwords and am using a very similar method for these landing pages.

    Another point to take is that Google doesnt like stand alone pages and you should have a link to and from the landing page to another page on the site (email campaign archive?)

  15. says

    Good points! Although I read SEOmoz reguralry, this landing page was never convincing me to join – to busy, no clear call for action, no testimonials and just to much text below. I am wondering how soon we will see the new landing page and maybe they will also share with us their new conversion rates or at least some figures that will show the improvement.

  16. says

    And one more thing, I don’t know if you have the same, but sometimes I forget that a landing page that has a nice design does not necessarily have to work (only because it looks pretty).

  17. says

    Another point to take is that Google doesnt like stand alone pages and you should have a link to and from the landing page to another page on the site

    What Google doesn’t like is single page domains that are essentially just sales letters with no links to other content. has thousands of pages of content, and over a million incoming links, so I think their Google Quality Score will be just fine based on the trust the domain carries.

  18. says

    Hello Brian-

    You did not address one crucial thing- in my book- is that the long list of testimonials all come from men. Is there not any women subscribers? Maybe it would be good to include one???

    Otherwise, the post was well thought out.

  19. says

    I agree – a great post! I’ve been a fan of SEOMoz for more than a year. Great specific suggestions, many which I need to implement on sites I manage. I especially liked the suggestion of changing text/background color from white on black to black on white. I’ve never been fond of the white on black look, it’s just too hard to read!

  20. says

    Great stuff! Awaiting to see the outcome once implemented by SEOmoz. Seems they have incorporated some of them eh?

  21. says

    nice post but I think you needed a few more examples of exactly what you’d do. much of this can be read elsewhere, I was hoping for more specifics since this is a makeover.

  22. hoolamonster says

    I agree with ^^^ Google Tutor and There is great info here! However, it seems to be cookie cutter and can basically be applied to everyones landing page.

    You need to chop and show us a layout b4 and after.

    Also this “Fold” thing, it’s on my nerves, 500pix is old school and real close to being out dated! I would like to hear peoples thoughts on that!

  23. says

    Hoola and Google Tudor, contrary to popular opinion, not everything is free.

    However, in this case, you’re in luck. This coming Monday you’ll find out what phase two is with regard to the SEOmoz landing page and how it will be modified and tested.

  24. hoolamonster says

    Nice, I look Forward to it. Brian, you made some really strong points. It appears on paper that these will work better than the page is currently, should be interesting.

  25. says

    This was a great post. Thanks for sharing and starting this project. In my opinion, I feel that two of the most high leaverage response items were missed – Trust/ testimonial and offer need to be better highlighted on the the landing page. They should not be one page away. With landing pages, the tried and true aspects of Direct Marketing still hold. In our experience, the following are the highest leaverage items in that order:
    – Relevance of the landing page to the outbound medium (40%)
    – Offer and offer presentation (Navigation, forms etc. ) (40%)
    – Creative (20%)

    Thanks for starting this conversation as I believe the landing pages are going be the response vehicle of choice for all marketing.

  26. Patrick says

    Hi Brian,

    that’s why I mentioned that “he stuck with it”. The fact that he did made me assume that it must be working out or else he wouldn’t be sticking with it.

    I just read his blog post on the sales letter again and realized he said the sample from his adwords traffic “had been” too when he wrote that blog post, obviously it was big enough eventually..I sort of confused that.

    However, I was a bit surprised that I never really read anything more about it..I guess thats why I assumed he hadnt come to a final conclusion and asked if you guys had forgotten about it hehe ;).

    I doubt his sales figures would make my jaw drop, though..Im pretty aware of the fact that he’s making a killing out therelol.

  27. says

    Brian, best post ever, in my opinion. Really. Specifics are everything and you went out of your way to make a spectacular landing page.

    For my blog though, which is your copyblogger theme, are those tips still relevant for a blog?

    The above the fold , take away all other navigation advice? seems like it’s different for a blog then a website…

  28. says

    Very valuable.

    This call-to-action can be used for almost any product or website.

    The idea is the get the user to perform a goal or conversion and your outline is right on!

    Good job.

  29. says

    It says a lot for you when a site like seomoz agrees to subject itself to your review. Congrats. I wish I had link bait that worked half as well as yours.

  30. says

    I’ve been following Seomoz for a long time now and am actually surprised this is the chosen landing page.

    While I love this article, I’ve just never been able to get into to these long landing pages but if it works, it works! Nice work.

  31. says

    I love your approach with the easily digestible top 10 list critique. SEOmoz do a lot of things very well and this shows how critical it is to have the impartial set of experienced eyes on everything you build.

    Nicely done.


  32. says

    This guideline was very helpful for me when I recently designed and developeda a new SEM landingpage in order to sell those new smartphones. So thanks a lot.

  33. says

    Great points on how to improve landing pages. It continues to surprise me that many/most adwords campaigns still direct traffic to a company’s main website/url rather than to a targeted or even custom landing page. Companies that embrace the idea of providing unique content for different ppc keyword campaigns, and use the good structure you suggest in this article, will experience a much higher conversion rate with their click-through traffic.

  34. says

    I have successfully used many of these recommendations to improve landing pages for different adwords domains. These tips do work, the reasoning behind them is correct, the real life tests back that up.

  35. says

    This was a great post. Thanks for sharing and starting this project. In my opinion, I feel that two of the most high leaverage response items were missed – Trust/ testimonial and offer need to be better highlighted on the the landing page. They should not be one page away. With landing pages, the tried and true aspects of Direct Marketing still hold.

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