Conversion rate optimization is commonly thought of as a best practice or a tactic utilized for paid traffic. Because I was introduced to CRO through PPC, that’s the lens I typically use when optimizing for conversion rate.
Instead, I urge everyone to think about conversion rate optimization as just another marketing strategy used to increase the percentage of people taking action on your site, regardless of the channel they came from. Today, I want to talk specifically about how conversion rate optimization (CRO) and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies can work together.
CRO & SEO
From an SEO perspective, the general strategy is to increase the quantity of organic site traffic while also gaining quality potential customers. In order to do this successfully, there has to be an effective SEO strategy but there also has to be an element of CRO as well. Once the SEO team has successfully driven traffic to a site, the landing page now has to pull its weight by engaging and converting that traffic.
When the CRO team considers SEO as a part of their strategies, you should see positive impacts on conversions, organic rankings, and PPC quality scores. However, if you make optimizations for conversion rate without taking SEO into account, you’re likely to see those positive impacts on conversion rate but there’s also a chance your organic rankings take a hit.
I personally made this mistake a few years ago when trying to optimize a home page for a rehab facility. The site contained so much content, making the home page extremely long, especially for mobile users. Therefore, we tested eliminating unnecessary or repetitive content and this resulted in a 22% lift in conversion rate specifically from our mobile users. In addition, we saw improvements in avg. time on page, session duration, and bounce rate. However, during this same time, the SEO experts chimed in concerned about dips in traffic they saw during this same time frame.
This is the perfect example of what happens when you don’t take SEO into consideration when solely optimizing for conversion rate, with a focus on paid traffic.
On the other hand, when CRO isn’t taken into account by an SEO expert, there’s a chance you successfully gain more traffic to the site but consequently suffer from poor conversion rates and high bounce rates. High bounce rates will result in a ping-pong effect where users are clicking on your link or links, and immediately bouncing due to poor experience, and finding another result, or a competitor, to explore. Ultimately, these high bounce rates will negatively impact your overall organic performance.
It’s a balancing act
To ensure SEO and CRO strategies complement each other, I’d like to offer a few recommendations.
Use Dedicated Landing Pages for PPC
Dedicated landing pages are good alternative solutions to preventing conflict between CRO & SEO strategies. This is specifically relevant if the focus of your CRO efforts is on paid traffic and your recommendations have the potential to harm SEO. A prime opportunity exists in the example I mentioned earlier, where we were optimizing the home page. Because all traffic, regardless of the channel, was seeing the main website, we were going to have to consistently balance the SEO and CRO strategies to ensure no harm was done. Instead, to eliminate conflict and keep these strategies separate, we created dedicated landing pages for their paid traffic.
Apply CRO Best Practices to SEO Landing Pages
We’ve already discussed how it’s common to have a CRO strategy for your paid traffic or PPC efforts. Let’s take what we’ve discussed so far and ensure we have a strategy in place for SEO traffic. In order to maximize SEO performance and ensure the effort this team is putting forth is successful, the pages that are receiving this traffic need to be optimized for conversion rate.
Consider some of the landing page best practices we often discuss for paid traffic:
- Value propositions
- Social proof
- Trackable conversion actions
These are elements that we can optimize for to ensure maximum SEO performance and ensure that traffic has the best chance at converting.
Take A “Do no harm” Approach to CRO
I’m proposing an approach to CRO that helps us consider multiple channels like paid and SEO. Since Hanapin’s recent merger with Distilled and Brainlabs, we’ve started strategizing how these marketing efforts can all work together. As Brainlabs, we’re SEO-proofing CRO with our “do no harm” approach. We want to boost the overall conversion rate while ensuring strong SEO visibility.
Typically, our CRO process follows this general process:
- Research & Planning
- Test Execution
- Learnings & Roll Out
To SEO-proof our process, we plan to do SEO checks and review prior to testing and we will ensure SEO was taken into account prior to the rollout.
Talking about CRO and SEO is far less common than talking about CRO and PPC. However, I hope we can start viewing CRO as just another marketing tactic that can benefit all channels in order to start maximizing site performance. Check out our recent webinar, “ Better Together: Enhancing Site Performance with SEO and CRO,” to hear us go more in-depth on this topic. This was such a fun webinar to put together for you because we had an individual from each of the previous three companies, Brainlabs, Hanapin, and Distilled, all coming together to discuss how our strategies can work together moving forward.