It is being considered by all that conversion rate optimization (CRO) and search engine optimization (SEO), are two distinctly different disciplines or even being in opposition to one another. But it is not entirely true.
Undoubtedly, the job roles of both are different: those in SEO are focused on how to get visitors to your site, while those in CRO are focused on getting visitors to buy. Still, one can’t deny the fact that these two can’t work in isolation. Yes, you believe it or not, but they both need each other for a website to get successful.
So, here we are with some top ways by which one can improve the website conversion rate along with SEO. Also, to understand these ways well, let’s have a brief introduction to both SEO and CRO first.
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
This is one competitive era where we all want our website to get high rankings, so Search Engine Optimization is the way. Yes, it is the process of making changes to the website so that it will appear higher in the search engine results.
In simple words, search engine optimization is also known as SEO, which is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “natural,” “editorial,” or “organic” search results on search engines.
Based on what the search engine considers most relevant to users, all major search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing have primary search results, where web pages and other content such as videos or local listings are exposed and ranked. As it is with paid search ads, payment isn’t involved.
What is Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)?
There is a huge confusion between SEO and CRO among people. Well, they are quite different. While SEO is the process of taking the website at higher ranking, Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a well-organized process of boosting the percentage of website visitors who take the desired action. Any action like becoming customers, filling out the inquiry form can be considered in this.
Besides that, the process of CRO involves understanding how users move through your site, what activities they perform there, and what's stopping them from achieving your goals.
Well, to understand the job role of CRO, it is very important to understand the term Conversion Rate. So, let’s begin with the brief on the conversion rate first.
The number of times a user completes a goal divided by your site traffic is what your site's conversion rate is. There are several things it is based on. Like if a user can convert in each visit that is by buying a product, then you can divide the number of conversions by the number of sessions (make sure you use the number of unique times a user came to your site). And, if one sells a subscription, divide the number of conversions by the number of users to calculate it.
However, Conversion rate optimization or CRO can be done after someone visits the site. This is somehow very different from conversion optimization for SEO or paid ads, which focuses on how many clicks you get, who clicks through to your site from the organic search results, and which keywords are driving traffic.
Some Key Differences Between CRO and SEO
Here are the major differences between CRO and SEO to help distinguish between the two terms:
1. SEO’s primary goal is to affect your visitors in the actual search engine results pages (SERPs), even before they arrive on your website, while CRO’s is to boost conversion rates (like for signups and sales) and influence visitors after they arrive on the website.
2. SEO is the primary method to increase your traffic from search engines, while CRO won’t directly increase your traffic from search engines.
3. Most CRO success comes from onsite efforts to engage and convert more visitors, whereas most SEO success now comes from off-site link building efforts.
4. SEO doesn’t focus on any tools, whereas CRO often uses visitor feedback tools and A/B testing tools to optimize conversion rates.
5. Most importantly, running SEO campaigns is much more expensive than CRO initiatives, as they are often much cheaper to execute. According to Avinash Kaushik, a leading web analyst, one needs just 10 percent of your SEO budget to start optimizing your website and conversion rates.
Some Similarities Between CRO and SEO
It is possible to consider Search engine optimization as a subset of website optimization; hence, they complement each other and work well together. Plus, both practices, as they intersect and meet in certain aspects, overlap in terms of the benefits they provide to a business.
So, as we have discussed its differences, let’s also learn the ways they complement each other. Yes, read where and how these important terms intersect as well as meet:
1. Some SEO efforts are affected by CRO factors. Like in case, if your website has poor quality content or loads slowly, it will not only lower your website conversion rates, but Google may also rank it lower than sites with higher quality (according to the Google Panda update).
2. Similarly, your CRO is also sometimes affected by SEO. Like if you perform a poor SEO job and try to send traffic to pages that aren’t very relevant, it will surely lower your visitor engagement rates, and consequently, conversion rates; both are the essential parts of CRO.
3. As we know, to monitor and improve success, both of them rely heavily on web analytics data. As a fact, one of the most important metrics, web page bounce rate (tries to reduce it on key pages) are now the same for both CRO and SEO.
4. In one more way, CRO helps SEO; a well-optimized web page for CRO that meets visitor’s needs will gain more inbound links because more people will find it valuable and want to link to it, and this also helps to improve search engine rankings for that page even further.
How Rankings and Conversions Complement Each Other
1. Be Mobile-Friendly
Improving mobile experience can be easier than you think; there are many elements to mobile rankings on Google that webmasters need to think about. We can’t deny that fast page loading becomes important, but at the same place, additional SEO factors, like how long visitors stay and how many pages people read, also play a role.
And, when you optimize the mobile version of your site, the crucial thing to note here is that you will see a benefit both in terms of your CRO and your SEO. For a long time now, it is known to all that customers are happy to browse, research, and read on mobile sites, but converting is far less likely.
Although, this is no longer the case now. Because, a survey suggests that mobile transactions accounted for around 52% of e-commerce in 2016, but it is estimated to have a share as high as 73% of the market by 2021.
So, where we have always believed that mobile optimization is important in terms of actual numbers of organic visitors, but now it is becoming more important in terms of sales.
2. Improve User Experience
Well, across both SEO and CRO, user experience (UX) has become a major factor, as webmasters are willing to find the best ways to pull customers in and ensure that they are receiving what they are expecting from the site.
There are already made guidelines by Google that help businesses to improve their UX. Well, UX is not considered to be a ranking factor stressed by the search engines, it is somehow the fact that user behavior shows that once again, so SEOs must think about it to get as much as possible from it.
There are very simple strategies that almost anyone can implement to improve a site’s UX. Some of them are here:
a. Include site search
Site search is a very important part of UX, and taking it wrong has poor consequences for SEO and CRO. Well, your site search must always return a result is one of the real keys here even if there is nothing much under the standard parameters of the search, it’s a great idea to show popular products instead.
Additionally, make sure that when users start typing, your search function has automatic suggestions and spell-correct.
b. Simplify your forms
To get your forms right always, it is very important. But how is it possible? Well, in this case, the answer is simple (literally). According to Google, the forms should be as easy as possible for users to fill out and recommends a range of ways that you can achieve this.
Firstly, you should allow autofill if it is at all possible so that the form can be automatically filled out with the user’s cached data. Plus, reducing the number of fields to those that you genuinely need is also very important.
Finally, if you have a dropdown field with more than four options, it suggested that you scrap it altogether and choose either manual entry, clickable buttons, or sliders.
3. Speed Up Page Load Time
Well, Page loading time is a crucial issue. While, in terms of getting your SEO right, slow page load times are a ranking factor for Google, but for CRO, it’s a bigger problem as your page will begin loading when a user clicks on your page from the search results. But the user clicks away if it loads too slowly, and this scores as a bounce from your site – of course, a huge negative from a CRO perspective.
However, according to Google, user behavior affecting rankings is no longer only a problem for CRO, but it has a massive effect on your SEO too. If you see users immediately bouncing from your site before it has even loaded, this shows that there is a real problem with it.
So what should you expect for a page loading speed that is appropriate for SEO and CRO benefits? Well, two seconds or less is considered to be the right amount of time for a page to load. At a speed of two seconds, websites can expect an average bounce rate of about 9.6%; at four seconds, this figure almost doubles to 17.1%, and if your page takes seven seconds, this figure jumps to 32.3%:
In addition to that, how many additional pages a visitor will read is also based on page loading speed. For example, when the pages take two seconds to load, the average number of pages viewed is 8.9. That means it’s just 3.7 if they take seven seconds.
4. A/B Test
It could be said that A/B testing has long been considered an essential feature of CRO. It’s natural to want to try many different variations on the layout, form, and content on your page to make sure that customers get to see the version that is most effective at making them convert. And once again, while this has been a little overlooked in SEO, it is now at the forefront.
And, you first need to understand some details about the customers who are visiting your website to perform the best possible A/B tests. You need to understand who they are in terms of their demographic and background (i.e., buyer persona). You need to understand what they want from your site, in terms of the intent behind their visit. And you need to understand what they buy and how they behave.
When you understand these details, you are in a much better position to create content that is right for your site, and then run iterations through A/B testing to find which version is most effective.
5. Quality Content
Both SEO and CRO are dependent on high-quality content. As SEO focuses on optimizing unique content for targeted keywords, on the other hand, CRO requires lucid and to the point content to communicate your brand’s message effectively.
In all, for both SEO and CRO, the content should be simple as well as error-free. Use relevant videos and images between paragraphs to make your content more appealing.
What is Best to Focus On: SEO or CRO?
This is a natural question for marketers and webmasters, and the truth of the matter is, this is a time when combining the two policies will give more advantages in comparison with using them individually, as one can only be effective with the other. It has to be like your SEO efforts when you come to consider the CRO work you are doing.
Keep in mind that user behavior impacts SEO plus, the same user behavior is affected by CRO. And same user behavior can only be recognized as a requisite level of good SEO. So, somehow, it’s an ongoing circle.
Times When SEO and CRO Are in Clash
While discussing this topic, one can’t forget that there are times when CRO and SEO would appear to be in opposition – or even that tests like A/B would validate that they are in opposition. So, what will you do if a change you make on your site makes you fall a couple of positions in the rankings but also leads to conversions' increase by 10%?
Well, it could be a very difficult question to answer based on the scenario. But there are some universal facts here that need to be appreciated. At first, it’s quite essential to keep in mind that page rankings naturally fluctuate, and rather than following an individual movement in SEO, it is more important to follow overall trends.
In addition to that, with Google now considering that user behavior is a ranking factor, having a stronger conversion rate plus having a better site could be considered a big positive from an SEO perspective.
So, while it may seem that CRO and SEO are in opposition, it is generally the case that they will be working towards the same purpose. And, likewise, if you are attempting to optimize your page either for search engine rankings or conversions, you can (and should) do it with the other purpose to fulfill.
So, in these ways, we have seen how CRO and SEO can work wonders together. The above discussion concludes that our site should be easy to find, but at the same time, it should provide value to the user, offering valuable plus relevant content that addresses their needs.
Moreover, using CRO and SEO as a multistep approach can not only help you rank better in search engines but can also help you increase your conversions. So, with these tips and tricks, focus on how to use SEO to improve your conversions and also avoid the Googlebot rules that might penalize you.