What Google has to say about landing pages:

“The best way to figure out whether your keyword, ad, or landing page is relevant and useful is to put yourself in the shoes of a user. Do your ad and landing page include language that makes sense in the context of the keywords you have chosen? For example, if you have selected the keyword ‘hiking shoes,’ have you made sure that your ad mentions hiking shoes or related name brands? Does your landing page actually offer the name brands you mentioned, along with detailed information about this shoe type?”

“Targeting your keywords, ads, and landing pages in this way likely will lead to several positive results. First, it can help you gain the trust of your customers and therefore keep them coming back to your site. You will also minimise the money spent on clicks from users who might not be interested in what your website offers. And finally, you can increase your overall Quality Score and lower the minimum bid necessary for your ad to appear.”

Landing Page Approaches

1. Relevancy
In the case of PPC landing pages you need to match the offer to your text ad copy. Keywords should be highlighted or displayed prominently. Keep it relevant to that person’s search query, because that’s all they care about.

2. Copy
Write compelling copy. Avoid meaningless adjectives and over-reaching. Use action verbs. Base copy length and tone on your audience.

3. Clarity
Have a clear call to action. Perhaps this will take the form of a big button. Prominently display delivery options and costs. Bullet points work well online, to help communicate the benefits of a product or service. People most often skim text online. Use bold text to reinforce key messages. Use larger, readable fonts, such as Arial (pixels are better than point sizes for consistency). Use strong highlighting for elements such as quotes.

4. Features, Benefits, Solutions

5. Remove distractions
Focus the user’s mind on the end goal: the checkout or the conversion action. Limit his or her options by removing link navigation, for example. Many find that a one-column page format helps achieve focus by leaving little room for distractions.

6. Accuracy
Grammatical accuracy, accuracy of details and any other part of the page: these are not optional.

7. Reinforce credibility

Testimonials, press, partners and awards. All these things convey trust and respectability.

8. Images and color
Product images are crucial. Crisp, clear images optimized for fast load times are strongly suggested. People want to see what they are buying. Images of a product in context are ideal. Images that evoke product benefits, features and illustrate how a product solves problems are valuable. Color influences emotions, impressions and actions. People have strong associations with color.

Page elements that often support conversions:

Calculators (illustrating savings by context or over competitors)
Comparison Charts (how does your product stack up competitively)
Embedded Video (brief product demos or walk-throughs)
Site Security Indicators (McAfee, Verisign, etc.)
Prominent Guarantees (any element of risk reversal so that the buyer feels they have nothing to lose by purchasing or taking the next step in the buy cycle)
Dynamic Text Insertion (in PPC – placing the user’s search terms into the page text – especially in the heading)

You can never go wrong with the following. My teachers used to say something similar in creative writing workshops:
Show what you mean and avoid simply telling it.
Showing is the key to good landing page content. Show the user how you _____.

Example Landing Pages:

Free Web Traffic Report

Donor Perfect
An example from Landing Page Star
Another example from Landing Page Star
GMAC Mortgage
ADT Home Security