Google Compliant Landing Page Checklist
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[DOWNLOAD] The 9-Point Google Compliant Landing Page Checklist

Each week a new member of DigitalMarketer Engage (our 10,000+ Lab member mastermind group) asks a very important question surrounding their landing pages:

Is this page compliant on [enter your preferred ad network]?! 

The first bit of advice I give is to stop tailoring different landing pages to different ad networks based on compliance. Pick the strictest one and develop all your pages with that as the baseline.
Not only will this save you time and help you better organize your landing pages, it protects you when less strict networks, e.g., Facebook, decide to change their terms!
Google is hands down the stricter of the ad networks, so I created this 9-point checklist outlining everything your landing page needs to stay in their good graces — along with this nifty download for you to swipe.
Okay let’s dig in!

Google Compliant Landing Page Factor #1 – Logo In Header

When people click an ad, they want to know if they are…

  1. In the right place.
  2. Who the heck they are potentially buying from or sharing their information with.

Here’s a DM landing page (I didn’t need to tell you that because the logo is easy to find!):
Google Compliance Checklist
Here’s a Zappos landing Page (this landing page kind of stinks…it’s just a category page, but you certainly know where to look to ensure you are in the right place when you click that ad.):
Google Compliance Checklist

Why put a logo in your header?

There are two main reasons to have your logo on your site and preferably in the left hand corner since that’s where people expect the logo to be.
The first reason is so that Google can easily identify your brand. Gone are the days of anonymous squeeze pages that bully you into a sale.
There is power in branding, and that power lies in Google actually letting you advertise on their network.
If you don’t get slapped with a disallowed ad, you’ll likely have a lower relevance score that will either increase your minimum ad bid or significantly decrease impressions.
Second, on top of Google wanting to know who is selling what, the visitor wants to know too!
Forgetting to put a logo (or being an anonymous site hocking products) will definitely get you marked as ‘the sketchy dude’ at the party.
Visitors won’t want to convert because they may not trust you, and easing anxiety is a must for increasing conversions — trust me, I know ALL about conversions.

Logo in Header Done Well:

Love how the logo is in the top left hand corner and that they included the business name as well as their tag line. This is a logo done right on a PPC page.

Logo In Header Done Terribly Not So Well:

Google Compliance Checklist
In this case the logo blends, is difficult to read, and isn’t where I’d expect it to be located.
A household brand can get away with this, but sorry, Texas Beard Co., you aren’t there yet.

Google Compliant Landing Page Factor #2 – Clickable Logo

Yes, I’ve said it before that your landing page should have as close to a 1:1 ratio between your CTA link and all other links. However, when you are playing by Google’s rules you can NEVER have a perfect 1:1 ratio.
Here’s an example of what I mean by clickable logo:
Google Compliance Checklist

Why make the logo clickable?

You might be asking…

Why do I have to have a logo that clicks back to my homepage, won’t that just hurt conversions?!

Well in theory – yes, having more links on the page creates choice and choices can be bad news. That said, when a visitor clicks your logo not all is lost! I’ll explain why in a second.
First, let’s cover why Google likes having a clickable link here.
They like this because they know that your landing page is a part of a larger indexed site. By linking back to your homepage, you show that this is just one of the many pieces of value you provide to the user.

But, Justin, now we have competing links and I hate that!

Competing links are not ideal, however a person who clicks your logo and visits your homepage isn’t a lost cause yet…
There is intent in that click!
They are exploring your brand a bit more to make sure you are reputable. Also, the offer on that landing page may not have been for them, but they liked what they saw overall and wanted to see what else you bring to the table.
Furthermore, you know EXACTLY where this person is coming from and can market to them accordingly on your homepage.
Using on site retargeting or personalization tools is extremely useful here and turns that competing link into an assisted conversion.
From a usability perspective, users expect a link to be attached to your logo. So even if this weren’t a box to check in the compliance list, I would still recommend that you meet the user expectation and link up.

Clickable Logo Done Well:

Google Compliance Checklist
Anyone gets a ‘Done well’ sticker if the logo clicks somewhere! Bravo again Badass Beard Care!

Clickable Logo Done Terribly Not So Well:

Any brand that DOESN’T have a logo that clicks. I would show one, but I fear it would shame them too hard.

Google Compliant Landing Page Factor #3 – Footer Navigation

When I say ‘footer navigation’, I don’t mean the sitemap-esque type footer you see on a homepage.
You just need to show Google that you are a real site. At the very least you should include links for About Us, Privacy Policy, and Contact Us.
Google Compliance Checklist

Why put navigation in the footer?

This is a simple one to rationalize since we covered this topic at length when talking about the logo and why it should be linked.
Google wants to know you are a real company providing real value.
Secondarily it eases any anxiety a potential customer might have and provides transparency.

Footer Navigation Done Well:

Google Compliance Checklist
This provides a lot of information. They could tone it down a little, but when it comes to compliance factors — better to give more than less.
This was also not a ‘traditional’ landing page.

Footer Navigation Done Terribly Not So Well:

Google Compliance Checklist
The privacy policy is a good step, but I’m going to need some more here (and so will Google). On top of not having enough information in the footer, the logo didn’t link anywhere — yikes!

Google Compliant Landing Page Factor #4 – Detailed Headline

….with no extraordinary claims.
Cut the cutesy crap and be direct with your headline copy! When we get all poetic in our headlines we tend to exaggerate.
If you exaggerate on a Google landing page…you’re going to have a bad time.

Why include a detailed headline?

Google wants to make sure that your offer is legitimate. If you have extraordinary claims in a headline, then you’ll get put under a microscope and more likely to get the ban hammer.
I’m all for persuasive copy writing, but it needs to serve a purpose.
Our headlines are straight and to the point (and so are our sub headlines). We flesh out those details in bullet points and VOILA we have a compliant offer.
Google Compliance Checklist
[Not pictured here: our header, below the fold CTA, and linked footer]
Notice we make it abundantly clear that this is a Free Download. We identify what they are getting: The Social Swipe File. Then we start digging into what’s in the swipe file. This is as transparent as you can get.
Take a good hard look at your landing page headline copy and let’s see if you can make it more transparent and descriptive.
This is a good exercise to stay compliant and to improve the user experience!
Starting to see a trend yet?

Detailed Headline Done Well:

Google Compliance Checklist
I know exactly what I’m getting and the descriptive paragraph avoids hyperbole. Man, I want a bounce house now…

Detailed Headline Done Terribly Not So Well:

Google Compliance Checklist
Google ‘Work From Home’ all of the ad links lead you here. I’m actually surprised this was allowed.

Google Compliant Landing Page Factor #5 – Visual Representation

….of what they are getting.
I’m looking at you, information products!
It’s obvious for eCommerce sites that they want to show off their product. Product shots are one of the core foundations of a landing page (and are also some of the most persuasive content).
Google Compliance Checklist
Now that’s a heck of a product shot! When you hover over it zooms in. Not only do I love Clarks shoes, but they have one of the best optimization teams in the business and their site shows it. Ok, /rant…

Why visually represent your offer?

Both Google and the user want to know EXACTLY what they are getting. An accurate product shot will help with all of this.
This is easy and intuitive for an eCommerce site, but info products need this, too.
Information products come under some of the most scrutiny on Google because there is a history of making unsubstantiated claims.
A great way to show Google (and the user) that you can make good on your promises is by showing a visual depiction of your deliverables and an itemized list of what’s included in the product.
This may require some clever design work since we aren’t working with tangible goods, but you NEED to do this.

Visual Representation Done Well:

Google Compliance Checklist
Heck of a good product shot here, Harry’s! You fit in both a close up shot and a use-case shot.

Visual Representation Done Terribly Not So Well:

Google Compliance Checklist
Wait, what…. DM didn’t do something perfect?!
Admittedly, we don’t do this very well on our lead gen landing pages. We use a cartoon style depiction of the product, but don’t really show the deliverables. However, we do a great job with the copy to make the cartoon like image come to life.

Google Compliant Landing Page Factor #6 – Disclaimer For Major Claims

Sometimes there are products out there that are just that darn good and they want to showcase this in the headline.
If you have a product or service that sounds too good to be true, but the results are absolutely 100% guaranteed – then you have nothing to worry about.
However, if you are providing something where there can be a range of results, which is really all of them, then you need to provide some kind of disclaimer.

Why provide a disclaimer?

This just comes down to transparency again. Google will ban hammer you so hard if you make a claim like…

Buy this white paper that will show you how to make a 10x ROI while only spending $10 a day on traffic!

…without context or a substantiated disclaimer.
If you have something that looks to good to be true, Google and your audience will be highly skeptical.
Use cases and proof can normally win them over. However, if you’re in the service industry or depicting something crazy like a pair of shoes that will help you dunk like Lebron, you sure as hell better have a disclaimer (either on page or linked).

Disclaimer for Major Claims Done Well:

Google Compliance Checklist
So Jenny Craig has some pretty bold claims, but they make sure to cover their butts with things like ‘Results not typical’ and this case reference in the footer:
Google Compliance Checklist

Disclaimer for Claims Done Terribly Not So Well:

Google Compliance Checklist
Even though they are vague with the number of strokes that will be cut down, this is still a claim that should be substantiated.

Google Compliant Landing Page Factor #7 – Detailed Opt-In Expectations

A lot of the landing pages out there aren’t trying to sell something. Instead they are trying to get your information.
Well, if you are asking for an opt-in, you better pay attention.

Why make opt-in expectations detailed?

Google doesn’t want people offering a white paper or report and then abusing that information!
Do you know who else doesn’t want that? The user.
Google Compliance Checklist
When people sign up for our Lead Magnets, we link them to our privacy policy and inform them they will be signing up for our newsletter. We are setting expectations with the user and ensuring that Google knows what we are doing with the information.
I don’t even want to put a done well vs. not well. Tell people what the heck you’re going to do with your data already!

Google Compliant Landing Page Factor #8 – Privacy Policy Near ALL Opt In Buttons

Privacy policy is a little different than the detailed opt in experience.
You should have a privacy policy page you can link to, as well as a brief bit of text to tell the visitor what to expect.

Why offer a privacy policy near the opt in button?

Google wants to know what your privacy policy is and if it is acceptable.
That’s why you need to have a link to your official privacy policy. Don’t just say ‘WE WON’T SPAM YOU LOL’ underneath the button. Assure them that their privacy is safe then link to the page.
Remember: transparency at the point of choice eases user anxiety.

Privacy Policy Done Well:

Google Compliance Checklist
Good work, VWO, you have your terms and privacy policy in there!

Privacy Policy Done Terribly Not So Well:

Google Compliance Checklist
What are you going to do with my information, GetResponse? As an aside, this is probably a sweet piece of content from my buddy, Peep.

Google Landing Page Compliance Point #9. Clearly Defined Immediate Next Step

Simply put, does the CTA match the next page?
If yes, you’re good. If no, you’re hosed. Here’s what I mean:
Google Compliance Checklist

Why clearly define the next step?

Admittedly we went a little over the top with our Google campaigns.
After we got the ability to advertise on Google again, we walked on eggshells. This lead us to share the upsell offer on the landing page to set expectations immediately.
This level of transparency is not required and will actually hurt conversions.
What is required is that the next page that follows is exactly what the user expects. If they are clicking through to buy a watch, that same watch better be there at the same price.
If they are looking to download a product, they should be able to access that product on the next page.
Use your CTA to clearly define the next step, create expectations, and then meet those expectations on the subsequent page.

Clearly Define Immediate Next Step Done Well:

Google Compliance Checklist
You’re told that you are making an account – and you do. Clear as day!

Clearly Define Immediate Next Step Done Terribly Not So Well:

Google Compliance Checklist
Despite the copy talking about a tutorial, FREE INSTANT ACCESS makes me think I can start using the product.
The clarity issue here hurts the experience.


So if you didn’t catch the trend throughout the article, here it is:
Most of Google’s compliance rules come from a good place; they want to improve the user experience.
I know a lot of people who made a lot of money trying to game AdWords – sure it worked in the short term, but the hammer always comes crashing down (Thor style — it ain’t no joke).
If you want to make sure this doesn’t happen to you then be transparent, meet expectations, and don’t be shady. Or just make sure you follow these 9 rules – get the PDF here.

Justin Rondeau

Justin Rondeau

Justin Rondeau has been doing this whole “Marketing” thing since 2010, when he was mildly […okay maybe more than mildly] obsessed with all things, data, email, optimization, and split testing. Currently he is the co-owner and President of InvisiblePPC - the #1 white-label PPC provider for agencies. Previously he co-founded Truconversion and even sat at the helm as General Manager of DigitalMarketer and Scalable Labs. Rondeau has trained thousands of marketers, spoken on hundreds of stages, runs a delightful team of marketers, has dozens of shirts louder than his voice, and loves one hockey team: the Boston Bruins.

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