Editor’s note: This post was originally written in 2016 and, while the best practices remain as relevant as ever, the article has been updated to include even more insight into when to use your homepage vs. a landing page. Dig in!
If you’re like most business owners, you’ve probably spent a lot of time thinking about your homepage. It’s your virtual business card, your storefront, and the first impression you present to the online world. So it makes sense that you’d spend a good deal of time on it.
But what about your landing pages? What do they do? How are they different? Is a landing page better than a homepage?
Don’t worry, we have the answers to your questions.
We’re going to break each page type down to its most basic elements so you learn the differences between them. We’re also going to discuss some of the similarities so you understand why some people confuse the two.
Finally, we’ll present you with seven different scenarios and tell you what type of page you should use for each one.
The short answer? No. However, it’s a little more complicated than that.
Most of the time, they’re completely different pages that serve unique functions. That said, you wouldn’t be faulted for thinking they’re the same. In many cases, they look the same and they share a lot of the same content.
The biggest difference is in what each page’s job is. And we’re going to jump into those details right now.
What is a homepage?
A homepage is usually the first page people see when they arrive at your website. It should instantly tell visitors who you are and what you do. A good homepage summarizes your business and gives a broad overview of everything you offer. It also acts as a hub for the rest of your website, allowing visitors to poke around and learn more about your business.
What is a landing page?
A landing page is more of a promotional tool. It focuses on getting the visitor to perform a specific action—like signing up for an email list, subscribing to a service, or purchasing a product. Landing pages usually remove the navigation options (home/about/contact us/etc) to prevent visitors from getting distracted and clicking away.
What’s the difference between a landing page and a homepage?
To put it simply, your homepage informs people about your entire business, while a landing page promotes a specific product, service, or event. Homepages serve as a great introduction to your brand for new prospects and leads. Once someone is familiar with your business and knows what they’re looking for, a landing page can then be used to turn them into a lead or customer.
Here are a few more differences between homepages and landing pages.
Occupies your root domain (www.yourwebsite.com).
Receives traffic mostly from organic search.
Links to every other important page of your website.
Gives a comprehensive overview of what your business does.
Uses a broad call to action, such as “Contact Us” or “Learn More”.
Is a secondary page on your website (www.yoursite.com/landingpage) or a subdomain (landingpage.yoursite.com).
Receives traffic mostly from paid marketing campaigns (search ads, social ads, email marketing, etc.).
Omits or downplays navigation options.
Stays focused on a single topic or offer throughout the page.
Uses a specific call to action, such as “Sign Up” or “Buy Now.”
Can you have a landing page without a homepage or website?
You don’t necessarily need a website to have a landing page. Some businesses decide to use a landing page as their homepage or website. This might work if you only offer one product or service, or you’re just looking to collect leads and nothing else.
So, yes, there are some situations where you would have a landing page without a homepage. However, for most businesses we recommend using both as part of your digital marketing toolbox.
Are landing pages better than a website?
Landing pages aren’t necessarily better—they just serve a different purpose.
When you’re first getting your business online you’ll likely want to start by building a strong homepage. This will introduce people to your brand and give visitors an overview of the products and services you offer.
Eventually, as you ramp up your marketing efforts with email and ad campaigns, you’ll want to start using landing pages to drive prospects to take specific actions and generate sales. This lets you focus on a specific call to action and allows you to add key persuasive elements to that page. They also make it easy to track data—like how effective an ad campaign was and where most of your traffic came from.
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Landing page vs. homepage: Which one should you use?
Homepages and landing pages both have a place in your marketing strategy. Whether you use one or the other will really depend on what your goals are in a given situation. With that said, let’s look at seven different scenarios to see when you should use your homepage and when you should use a landing page.
1 – When you’re getting your business online for the first time
Landing page vs. homepage? Homepage—most of the time.
A homepage is the natural starting point when you don’t have a website yet. And if you have a quick and easy way to build a site, it usually makes sense to go ahead, establish a basic homepage, and expand your site from there. For example, Leadpages’ Drag & Drop Builder allows you to launch your website in a few days or less.
There are a couple exceptions to this rule though.
Your website has one singular goal: If you’re only creating a website to sell one product or service, promote one event, or collect leads, then a landing page might be a better option. That way you can keep visitors focused on your desired action without unnecessary distractions.
You need a temporary page while your website is being built: Landing pages are often quicker to build than websites. So, if you’re eager to get online, a landing page can serve as a temporary home for your business while you wait for your website to be ready.
Assess your goals when building your online presence and determine whether a traditional homepage or landing page is the best way to get started.
2 – When you’re listing basic business information
Landing page vs. homepage? Homepage.
Your address, phone number, office hours, parking information, staff names, and other logistical details don’t require an action-oriented landing page. Very few, if any, visitors to your landing pages will look for this information (they’ll be looking for more information on the content or offer you were promoting).
Basic business information is something that customers will actively search for via a search engine. This makes it much more suitable for your homepage.
Still, consider adding an opt-in opportunity to your homepage alongside basic details like this—this provides you with an incremental but steady source of new leads.
3 – When you’re filling in the “website” field on social media profiles (or anywhere else)
Homepage vs. landing page? Your well-optimized homepage is usually the best way to go. But there could be an opportunity to generate leads here, too.
When people click through to your website from platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter they’re probably expecting to find your homepage. And if that homepage is an engaging one and has the information they’re looking for, it’s doing its job.
But there may be room to optimize even further. By directing people to a landing page that features an offer tailored to your social media audience you’ll likely generate more conversions.
There’s also the opportunity to move traffic from the “borrowed” channel of social media to the “owned” channel that is your email list—where you can show your audience exactly the content you want them to see, exactly when you want them to see it. Now that most social networks use an algorithm that’s very selective about showing your content to your audience, this is a great way to make sure they don’t miss important announcements and promotions.
But a word of caution: This tactic can come off as spammy if not executed properly. Make sure your messaging is clear and honest. For example: “Join our mailing list to receive content and offers you won’t see on social”. And make sure there is a clear way for them to get to your website from there: “No thanks—take me to your website.
4 – When you’re running Facebook ads (or another paid social campaign)
Landing page vs. homepage? Landing page.
Usually, when you run a social ad campaign it’s to promote something specific. In this case, sending people to your homepage is rarely an effective strategy.
Users don’t click on your ads to learn more about who your company is, what you do, and what your business address is. They click because you’re offering something compelling—a piece of content, a product, or a webinar that they want to learn more about, sign up for, or buy.
You need a page that answers to that—and is persuasive enough to get them to convert.
With a landing page, you can focus on the offer at hand. Start with the primary benefit and a strong CTA right in the hero section, then include additional benefits further down the page. You can also feature testimonials from past customers or clients that speak to your specific offer.
There may be a bit about who you are and what your business is. But ultimately, it’s about the offer and capturing the lead or the sale. And while you might include things like this on your homepage, there will inevitably be distractions that prevent users from taking your desired action.
Plus, when you use a page designed for a particular campaign you can track your success much more easily. For example, your Leadpages dashboard shows you how many visits, leads, and sales a campaign is generating.
5 – When you’re running a paid search campaign
Landing page vs. homepage? Landing page (usually).
The same factors that make landing pages a good fit for paid social campaigns make them a wise choice for Google AdWords/PPC campaigns. You’re probably targeting keywords that relate to specific things your business offers, and a landing page gives you the opportunity to zero in on the products and services that are related to those searches.
For instance, say a dental practice wants to use an AdWords campaign to promote its teeth whitening services. Rather than redo their homepage to focus on teeth whitening (which they would have to in order to get a good quality score on AdWords), their marketing team could create a landing page just for this service. Leadpages offers templates designed to support the kind of content and navigation options that Google prefers.
The same goes for organic SEO. First, consider the keyword you’re targeting. If it’s relatively narrow compared to your industry as a whole, take the opportunity to create rich, search-optimized content around it on a landing page (or, potentially, a blog post you treat like a landing page by making sure it contains prominent opt-in opportunities).
One possible exception: if you’re doing a paid local search campaign and targeting very broad keywords (think “restaurants near me”), simply advertising that you exist, you’re great, and you’re nearby may be enough. In that case, running ads to a high-quality homepage is a good option.
6 – When you want to raise brand awareness
Homepage vs. landing page? Homepage or landing page.
As you can see, when you’re running a campaign you’re usually better off directing prospects to a landing page that’s targeted to your specific offer. The one exception is a brand awareness campaign.
If you’re only goal is to make people aware of your business then your homepage might be a good landing spot. A well-optimized homepage will give visitors an overview of what you offer and provide a number of links that allow them to learn more about your business.
However, a landing page will also work in this situation as well. The advantage to using a landing page is that you can use the same design, colors, and themes used in your ads to create a more consistent experience. You can do this with your homepage as well, but it might mean redesigning the page.
So, both pages could work in this scenario—it really just depends on your preferences and the campaign.
7 – When you want to generate leads and sales
Homepage vs. landing page? Landing page.
Any time you want someone to perform a specific action (download a lead magnet, sign up for a consultation, purchase a product, etc.) a landing page is the way to go.
With a landing page, you can remove all distractions and focus on the action you want visitors to take. This lets you present the benefits, include social proof, and address any objections prospects might have to the offer.
Think of it this way: if someone has expressed interest in a particular product you don’t want to present them with the entire store. Show them what they’re looking for and give them your pitch on why they should buy it. That’s exactly what a landing page is designed to do.
So, when should you use a landing page vs. a homepage?
To sum it up:
When you can pinpoint exactly the action you want your audience to take, show them a landing page.
When you can’t, your homepage is fine—but make sure it least allows for action. One way or another, you want your most enthusiastic visitors to have a way to connect with you ASAP before any of that enthusiasm fades.
Need a landing page for your next campaign or promotion? Leadpages’ professionally designed templates and Drag & Drop Builder make it easy to launch a landing page in a matter of hours. Try Leadpages free for 14 days to create your first landing page today.
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Easily create your website and landing pages with the only platform engineered by marketing nerds.