A growing trend in writing for the web is the use of landing pages and secondary links. These landing pages can be used effectively, but usually are an annoying attempt to get a reader to click on one link and make them go to second page to find the link to the real article. I call this “bait and switch.”
Landing Page – “Bait & Switch”
Writers who uses the “bait and switch” method first post a link to a social media group, discussion board or via email. Readers who respond to the post think that by clicking the link they will be taken to the article, but no! The reader is misdirected first to the writer’s landing page, perhaps their blog or a another site, where the reader has to click on a second link to find the article he thought he was clicking on in the first place.
Why would a writer misdirect a reader like that? Usually for a percent of a penny. The writer is either trying to direct readers to his blog (where the reader might click on a Google ad) before the reader gets to the article, or is sending the reader to a site which hosts links where the writer earns less than a penny for every view.
Landing Page – Wild Goose Chase
The writer who uses this kind of “bait and switch” and sends his readers on a wild goose chase of multiple links is demonstrating disrespect for his readers as well as cheap thinking. Being web writers is not about grabbing as many percents of a penny as we can, but about building a base of followers and readers who trust us to not only write our articles with integrity but to also post our links with integrity. Readers are not stupid. Once they have been misdirected to a landing page once or twice, they simply stop clicking on that writer’s future links. They don’t want to go to a blog again or a landing page to click a second link.
Using this technique to grab a percent of a penny sacrifices the real page views which could have been generated to the main article plus future page views on future article that were lost when the reader decided not to waste time clicking on any more links. The use of landing pages and secondary links is an annoying waste of time, and the writer who uses this technique loses credibility. With the loss of credibility comes the loss of followers, readers and the long-term income found in carefully building a library of good content along with a reputation as a writer with integrity.
Landing Pages Used Effectively
There are a couple of ways landing pages can be used effectively. If a writer has written several articles on a general topic, such as movie reviews, it would be fair to past a link with a general title like “movie reviews” or “more movie reviews” which directs readers to a general landing page or rss feed for all movie review articles. I have seen people develop a great landing page, and then still use “bait and switch” by giving a specific title like “Avatar” and misdirecting the reader to the the general movie review landing page. I say misdirect, because the reader who clicks on “Avatar” does not expect to be taken to a list of multiple movie reviews where they have to scroll to find “Avatar.”
Treating Readers with Respect
Readers should be able to trust that when a writer posts a link, the link will go where we say it will go, not to a blog or landing page, but to the topic in the title or subject line. Serious writers should never waste their readers’ time or insult their intelligence with “bait and switch” landing page techniques.
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