When you create an online marketing campaign with landing pages, should you index your page on search?
This is a question I’m often asked by marketers and savvy small business owners.
Now, I’m not professing to be an SEO or coding expert, but there are number of reasons for both indexing your pages and for using “nofollow” and “robots.txt” to hide your page from search.
What’s the best strategy for your landing pages? Read on to find out…
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Why to Index Your Landing Pages
I’ll start off by saying that there is strong merit to having landing pages indexed by Google.
Let’s say you have long term landing pages for:
- An ebook
- A free appraisal
- A product catalogue
- A product
Once you’ve optimized your pages and added your descriptive keywords, long-tail keywords, linkbacks and other SEO tactics, they’re part of your branded website architecture.
By keeping these types of landing page indexed with ‘DO FOLLOW’, they’re crawled by spiders (that’s what those search bot things are called) and will show up when your customer is searching for your offer. In other words, they’re searchable.
If you do run specific inbound marketing campaigns to a page, and you need to track results, you can always employ metric measuring like UTM tracking codes, bitly links and google analytics to determine where your views are coming from, right?
Your conversion rates and traffic may not be as great as having unique landing pages for each market segment and source. But you’re also not spending the time and resources needed to optimize and implement these targeted campaigns. It’s a strategic business decision that only you (or your higher-ups) can make.
Bottom line is, it pays to index your mainstay, long term landing pages.
How to Index Your Page:
At Wishpond, all of our landing page templates are indexable by Google, Bing and other search engines by default.
To make sure your pages are crawled by Google quickly, use Google’s Webmaster Tools to manually add your page.
Why to “Un-Index” Your Landing Pages
So, why wouldn’t you want your landing pages to found in search? Wouldn’t you be better off getting seen and clicked on when and where your customer is looking for you?
Not always. There are a number of reasons why you wouldn’t want your page crawled. Here’s the top five situations:
1. ‘Thank you’ pages: One of the most obvious reasons for coding with a “No Follow” are on your post sign-up pages. Let’s say you’re giving away free email-gated content such as a well written ebook. You’ve put a lot of time, energy and resources into creating the book. Then you’ve put a lot of time and resources into promoting it and creating a high-converting landing page to collect business leads.
Your ‘thank you page’ is generally the page your new conversion is directed to after they’ve signed up, and where they can directly download your ebook PDF. You definitely don’t want people to find and click on that through search! You’d be giving away your stuff without getting a lead in return.
2. Unique traffic source based campaigns: Most smart marketers create separate landing pages for each PPC, Facebook ad, social media and email campaign they run. By doing so, you can create highly targeted, well matched and personalized landing pages. Long time Google AdWords advertisers wouldn’t think of doing anything else.
Let’s say, for example, you have a link to your ebook landing page from your blog. You can create a unique landing page that acknowledges where your visitor came from with headline copy such as “Thanks for reading our blog articles. We know you’ll love the book….”
Creating a unique traffic specific page increases conversions and future brand awareness.
But, you clearly wouldn’t want someone to find and click on these very specific pages through search.
3. Competing with your own SEO pages: Let’s say you have a product landing page on which you’ve implemented SEO tactics. It’s working so well that your page comes up on the first page of Google for your keywords. Now you want to boost sales of your product by running a PPC ad campaign.
To optimize your clickthroughs and conversions, you make a unique product landing page to match your Google Ad.
In a nutshell, the way search engines work is when you have two concurrent landing page URLs on the same subject. The search bots arbitrarily choose which one is more important and send traffic only to one of them.
You definitely need your PPC landing page removed from indexing so you’re not competing with yourself for the lucrative top SERP of your original high ranking page.
4. Your landing page is for a short-term event: Let’s say you’re promoting a short time-based event such as a grand opening, webinar or upcoming product launch. If you don’t robot.txt or code in a ‘No Follow’, search engines will eventually find your page and index it. This means your event page could get picked up by search and indexed even when your event is nearly complete.
And worse, your landing page promotion can still keep showing up in search long after your event is past. Like, even if you’ve done the right thing and taken down your landing page, your URL could keep showing up in search linking to a 404. This is not good for your business marketing!
Don’t index short term events!
5. Pure analytics and tracking: Another obvious benefit of using “No Follow”, “No Index” and robot.txt is to obtain clean and clear metrics for each landing page campaign you run. Yes, you can use UTM codes, bitly shortened links and your website analytics to determine where your traffic is sourced and behaviour thereafter.
But, if you’re a purist in your online marketing and really only want the best – you truly need to keep your campaigns uncontaminated and out of search. It only tampers with your data.
Run tests to compare traffic with an indexed page to an un-indexed page if you like.
How to Tell Google (and other search engines) NOT to Index Your Content
It’s actually not that hard to keep a page from being indexed.
How to do it:
1. “Robots.txt”: One way to remove a page from search engines is by adding a robots.txt file. Within a robots.txt file, you can choose what on your website you don’t want crawled. In this case, which specific landing pages you want left un-indexed. You can check your robot.txt in Google webmaster tools, to ensure your page is blocked from being crawled by Google.
Note: Not all search engines respect the robots.txt code, so your page may still show up in more obscure search engines.
Read more about robots.txt from this article at Google Webmaster Support
2. “No follow” Meta tags: A “nofollow” or “noindex” meta tag is the most effective way of keeping your page out of searches. Simply copy these codes:
And add them to the header (the line with on your pages’ HTML).
This will stop search bots from reading and indexing each page.
3. Orphan your page: You can also ‘orphan’ your page. That is, don’t link to the landing page from anywhere on your main site and make it completely separate. This doesn’t completely take your page out of search, but it reduce your page’s ranking a LOT. An orphaned page can linkback to your main site without increasing its SERP.
So, should you un-index your landing page? Like so many marketing questions, the answer is: it depends.
Assess your business needs, count up your resources, do a quick cost/ benefit analysis. Then decide which of the wide range of strategic landing page options to use for your business.
Read more about landing pages:
- What is a Landing Page?
- Why Should I Use Landing Pages on My Website?
- When Should I Use Landing Pages on My Website?
- The Anatomy of a High-Converting Landing Page
- 21 Ways to Generate Leads from Your Landing Page
- 7 Landing Page Call-to-Action Formulas for Higher Conversions