Although this may just seem like a topical festive themed post, the lessons here are applicable all year round.

I just thought why not use 2014’s biggest toys as a control group, then I can do some sneaky Christmas shopping at the same time.

Transparency! It’s what we stand for here at Econsultancy. 

As our editor Graham Charlton points out in his article on essential PPC landing page success factors a common mistake in paid search strategy is to focus entirely on keyword targeting and CPC management whilst ignoring the vital role that landing page optimisation plays in converting visits into actions.

Basically, it’s all well and good being at the top of the paid search listings on a SERP, but if your landing page isn’t up to scratch you’re wasting your time.

If you’re using paid search for Google, then you’ll be using Google AdWords and if that’s the case you may already know that the relevance of your landing page is key to appearing in sponsored listings.

If you didn’t know that, well that might be why your PPC campaign isn’t going very well.

In terms of actually improving conversion there are loads of tips on how to optimise your landing page to direct visitors towards the checkout. 

There needs to be consistency between the message contained in the ad and with the message delivered on the landing page. Also landing pages shouldn’t be too cluttered, there should be clear navigation and calls-to-action (an add-to-cart button for instance), perhaps even minimising wider site navigation.

Just always remember that paid search visitors arrive on a landing page with a specific intention in mind.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the 10 most popular toys this Christmas (according to a mixture of Hamley’s, Amazon and Toys “R” Us) and let’s see how retailers are taking advantage of increased Christmas search traffic.

Nerf Demolisher

Argos has the top paid search listing here, and also the first Google Shopping link. If it weren’t for these, the retailer wouldn’t appear on the first SERP at all.

And here’s the landing page for both results…

Clear pricing including the discount as communicated in the ad, a massive and colourful CTA and clear indication that it offers click & collect.

The same goes for the Teksta T-rex…

Xeno

The bizarre and unpleasantly snotty monster has hotly competitive paid search results from Amazon (more on that one later), Argos (as discussed) and the manufacturer itself.

This is the only example of a manufacturer bidding for its own product here. 

It’s just serving its own homepage, which too be brutally honest looks like it was built a decade ago. It also has no ecommerce function, it just links to other retailers.

This is really handy, but in terms of a paid search campaign this seems like a massive waste of money. Especially when its linking to retailers that are already competing for the same space.

LeapFrog Leap TV

Again Amazon and Argos show up here, but there is also an entry from Tesco…

Tesco also serves up a great landing page, with huge images, clear pricing, big CTA and a range of easily distinguishable delivery options.

Snow Glow Elsa

Amazon has the only paid search link here, with Toys “R” Us and Argos at the top of the organic results.

Unfortunately what you’ll find with Amazon is that the landing page is actually just the Amazon search results page for what I typed into Google.

Yes admittedly the Snow Glow Elsa is the top listing, however without a direct CTA and confusing pricing, this isn’t as good as being taken to a product page.

My Friend Cayla

Exactly the same as above, this paid search listing…

... leads to Amazon’s own search results. This seems even more pointless as there is only one product in the My Friend Cayla range, rather than Frozen which has hundreds of alternative products to choose from.

Plus the doll itself has a clear price point and is in stock. Why add this extra step for the customer?

This is exactly the same for another four products in the ‘top toys of 2014’ list… Ice Skating Anna from Frozen, Play-doh’s Dohvinci, the Kidizoom SmartWatch, Chomp and Stomp Grimlock (is any of this making any sense?)

Amazon has the only paid search listing, with no organic result, and serves its own search results page.

Surely if another retailer chose to bid for the same search terms and had a more relevant product page linking to the product, that retailer could beat Amazon to the top?

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 24 November, 2014 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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