I recently was asked by a client if they could set up a new domain that only utilizes Landing Pages specifically for their Adwords account. We all know that this is walking a very thin line with Google and their indexing algorithm, but there is a way to make this happen without hurting your current site’s SERPs. There are some obvious things that we know go against Google’s policies, like duplicate content, but I will take a moment to list out a group of steps to follow to help you walk this thin line and come out on the other side unscathed. So let’s get started, and follow these steps:
- If you are using in house servers to house both domains (Your main site and the new Landing Page site), you will want to make sure that you are hosting each domain on a different server. Some people may say this is unimportant, but when it comes to making sure that your main site’s indexed search results are not harmed, I don’t play games and take chances. Truth is I’ve seen this have a small effect on SERPs in the past, and I personally don’t care what others think on the subject. I know better. I’m sure you’ve all read different SEO’s posts on many different subjects, but unless they have data to back up their opinion then it’s just that… an opinion. I don’t have data to show you right now, but I can offer my opinion based on experience which is host domains with similar themes on different servers. Just my opinion.
- Make sure that you set up each page (on your new domain) as “nofollow” in your robots.txt file. We do not want to index any of these pages with Google or any other Search Engine. Doing so can create havoc on many different levels, but even if nothing else bad happens you still will be in a competition with your main website. This by itself can hurt your search engine results for your main site. Stick to the plan, and keep all of your pages hidden from being indexed by listing them as “nofollow.”
- Make sure that the content on each Landing Page is unique and does not, in any way, copy what you have on your main domain. This is the duplicate content issue that I mentioned earlier in this post. When you post duplicate content from your main website you are waiving a flag at Google and the search engines that you are plagiarizing. Not to mention that the content is not unique and does not offer anything new to visitors. Google’s main goal is to offer unique views to visitors so that they can research everything and all opinions on a topic before making a decision to buy your product or service. Make sure that all of your content is unique.
- Make sure, even though these are Landing Pages that we have setup as “nofollow,” that we have a common navigation bar on each Landing Page that will connect each Landing Page to the other. Essentially we are talking about making a microsite here. There are many opinions out there about microsites and how they are bad for your SERPs, but keep in mind we are not creating this to bypass Google’s ranking algorithm. We are creating it to offer new, and unique, content to visitors that offer prominent Call-To-Actions to try and get them to enter our sales or lead funnel… that’s it. By listing every page on this domain as “nofollow” we are letting Google know that our intentions are legitimate and we are not trying anything underhanded, as we don’t want these pages indexed. The issue here is that if we send traffic to a Landing page without some type of navigation on it that leads to another page, Google will inevitably notice this and shut your ads down for a policy violation. Adword’s policies offer a grey area on this topic, but what’s clear is that they want visitors to be directed to a site that offers complete information on a company and their products or services. A site that has no links to other pages is a red flag for Adwords. I’ve dealt with this issue years ago, and ultimately we ended up making a microsite to remedy the issue.
- Make sure that we do not link back to your main domain anywhere. Any links on these Landing Pages that go back to your main site is another indication to Google that you may be trying to, as Google likes to say (as I’ve seen the notice before), “Work The System.” Don’t link back to your main domain.
- Obviously you will want to have Thank you pages on this domain for when a form is filled out. Do not direct visitors back to your main domain’s “Thank You,” or “confirmation” page after they purchase a product or fill out a lead form. I’ve seen some companies try to do this, and again you are just waiving a red flag at Google asking to be penalized. Don’t do this.
- Going back to #4… make sure that this navigation bar is across the top or down the top-left of each Landing page. Do not simply have common links in the footer of each page. Google will want to see this navigation near the top of the page, so don’t try to just get away with putting small font links in the footer of each page. Make the links prominent.
That’s it folks. Follow these steps, and you should do well. Have fun, and “Don’t Mess With Sasquatch” “grrrr”…lol.
– Ed Cehi, SEM Manager
With fourteen years of Internet Marketing experience, Ed Cehi joined That Company as a PPC Account Manager in 2008 after previously working at another high profile Florida Web Design and Marketing Agency located in Ocala, Florida for the six years previous. He started his career in Internet Marketing as a Web Designer after graduating from The International Academy of Design and Technology in Orlando Florida with his degree in Web Design. He soon moved on to Search Engine Optimization and then graduated into Paid Advertising following that. Ed now holds the position of Senior SEM Manager at Th@t Company located in Leesburg Florida, just outside of Orlando. You can find him online in multiple social mediums such as Twitter (@edsaxman) and LinkedIn.