Although it is situational, landing pages should not be indexable for the search engines. There are some that serve a specific purpose and are index worthy, but they are few and far between. As a best practice use a meta robot with the noindex, follow direction and make sure any internal links follow your core site’s architecture and structure.
Below I go into different types of landing pages and if they should or should not be indexable by Google and other search engines. But first, lets cover a few questions to ask yourself when trying to decide and based on your specific needs.
- Is the page going to be taken down within the next year?
- Does the landing page compete with core site pages?
- Are there other pages with similar content on the site or that are also being used?
- Should it be shown for specific search queries over main site pages or blog posts?
- Have you provided a reason for a search engine to show it?
If the answer to any of these is no, then it gets a meta no index. I go into more detail about each of these below.
Promotional and Sale Landing Pages
(not a coupons or deals page that is kept up-to-date)
These should always have a noindex meta tag on them. Think about it this way, Google and other search engines are in the business of serving relevant pages with useful content to their user base. If you’re running a sale or promotion that only lasts for a week or a couple months and then it ends, Google and other search engines don’t want to send people to that page since they won’t find useful content. This also wastes your crawl allowance if it is crawling this page as opposed to an evergreen page.
Instead, create a page dedicated to current sales and deals and make that the indexable one since it will always be up to date and relevant. Not to mention you can rank it for your own trademarks and boot some of the third party sites from these positions (i.e. take control of the searches as people are looking for deals, sales and coupons). You can use this page to run deals that increase AOV and customer loyalty so it’s a multi win to do it this way.
PPC Landing Pages
These tend to be very targeted to a specific keyword phrase, theme or the intent of the user. Although they are very good at selling products, there are three reasons why PPC landing pages should be no index for Google and other search engines.
- They normally compete direct with core site pages
- The content tends to be thin and conversion oriented (non informational)
- In many cases, they are extremely similar text and design wise to other landing pages creating confusion
Landing pages are meant to quickly convey a relevant message to a search query, load fast and push someone into a sales funnel or lead process. Because you can intercept an end user who is already in the process, you only need to sell them on why to use you, not why they need a solution. That is the big difference and why this is thin content compared to a core site page.
Instead of indexing a PPC landing page, create a resource on your site that provides details about the need for a product or service, how it is used, that answers questions people have and is something that helps them. This applies across the board to ecommerce sites, service providers, non-profit or organizations and everyone else.
PPC is for someone who needs to know why you’re the right solution, SEO is for someone who needs help with an issue and isn’t necessarily in the decision making process.
These should have a meta noindex tag for the same reasons above, but also because once the email or newsletter is done, the creative is gone as well. They also tend to be very time and theme sensitive.
If you’re running a Halloween or St. Patrick’s Day promo, the imagery and wording remain consistent from the email to the landing page, through the sales process and sometimes even the follow up email. This provides a seamless flow and user experience. If someone is looking for your site in July and you’re showing them pages with copy wishing them a Happy New Year, it’ll be a confusing and bad experience. That is why these aren’t good pages to have Google indexing.
Offline Campaign and Brand Landing Pages
These also have a lifespan. Think about tv ads, print, billboard and radio. Once they stop running, the landing page will no longer make sense to someone finding it. From a branding standpoint, you don’t want old messaging, imagery and deals to continue to come back, especially if you have newer product versions. Having irrelevant messaging also confuses consumers. If you want an archive of these, build an archives of ads for journalists and others who are doing research on your company. Landing pages for offline campaigns for the most part should be noindex.
These are one of the few types of landing pages that could be indexable (not should but could). Think about an as seen on tv product. You run ads on tv or another medium. The ad sells the product and service for you and you need a quick way to sell the product or service before the person loses interest. In this instance, the landing page or microsite is the website and is the best experience to show for the query. In this case there is not a core site with a better option for organic search.
You’re also probably running ads with the URL and driving people to it. If someone sees your commercial and types in the microsite “BuyXYZBrand.com” that is what should show up in the search engines and is why it should be indexed. By running these ads with a URL, you’re also probably going to get backlinks.
If people are linking to it, that is a signal for Google that there is something relevant or that they need to check out. If the microsite is part of your core site (again this is in very specific situations and not all), you can use these links to pass authority into your core pages which is why you want the directive to be index and follow. There are instances where you want to noindex them, but this is also an example of when we would want to index the landing page.
Remember, each case is unique and needs to be evaluated on an individual basis. But if you want a standard best practices for landing pages and SEO, landing pages should not be indexable but can and probably should be do follow (you don’t want to say that your own site is not trustworthy with no follow links). If you’d like me to take a look at your site and help to determine this, you can contact me here.