Driving Landing Page Conversions: SEO Tells You Where, But CRO Tells You How

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A lot of marketing experts will tell you that SEO is the driving force behind conversions.

I’m here to tell you it’s not.

SEO can only do so much. You can spend a million dollars on your SEO campaign and rank at the top of Google’s search results for all of your keywords, but if people don’t convert, then your SEO efforts are ultimately worthless. You should, instead, start backwards and work on conversion rate optimization (CRO) before you even consider SEO. CRO is the process of optimizing your landing page to influence the most viewers to convert.

Think of it this way. SEO is the GPS that tells your viewers how to get to you, and CRO is the vehicle that gets them there. You can have a state-of-the-art GPS, but if your car is broken down, that GPS doesn’t help at all. It’s SEO that gets them to see your landing page, and the landing page is where they convert. Therefore, CRO is what ultimately affects your bottom line and is a web marketing MUST.

If your landing page is failing to convert visitors to customers, you’ll want to take the steps to ensure that your site becomes a more relevant, emotional, and interactive experience. Here are 12 CRO steps for improving your landing page and driving those conversions.

1. Understand Your Target Market

People don’t have the time or desire to read the hundreds of webpages they see every day. They only choose to view information that matters to them. Therefore, you need to really get to know your market so you can create relevant content.

You can familiarize yourself with your target audience by conducting surveys and interviews. Ask your interviewees questions that will reflect on these main points:

  • What are the general demographics of people who will be interested in my product?
  • What are these people using my product for?
  • How does my product make people’s lives better?
  • Do people consider any alternatives to my product? Why?

These questions help you uncover trends within your market and give you information on user intent, which analytics alone cannot provide. Using this information, you can then tailor your landing page to accommodate your target audience. This is crucial to increasing the likelihood that viewers will convert.

2. Establish Analytics

Use Analytics for Landing Page CRO

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Analytics give you the full story on your landing page activity. They provide valuable insight on how people interact with your page, including how they found your site, what they clicked on once they got there, how long they stayed on each page.

This information can help you identify problems that users may be having on your site. Maybe people are leaving right away because your page takes too long to load. Or perhaps people aren’t converting because your call-to-action is too low on the page for people to find without having to scroll down.

You may have never known that you had these problem areas without analytics. Once you know, you can formulate the right solutions to make your landing page experience as easy and enjoyable as possible. Incorporating analytics into your landing page can save you time and money; instead of guessing at what to do next, you’ll have the research to guide you to make the right improvements the first time around.

3. Make Sure Your Messages Match

One of the biggest issues that analytics can identify is a message match problem. A message match problem occurs when viewers click on your ad, transfer to your landing page, and then quickly leave. This happens because your landing page doesn’t have the information that viewers expected when they clicked your ad.

A message match problem can doom your landing page to fail. If your ad and landing page don’t look and read similarly, it will throw your users off. They’ll land on your page and wonder where to find that offer they saw, or why your homepage doesn’t even feature the keyword that got them interested in the first place. They could feel like they were tricked, and as a result, they may trust you less.

You can avoid this dilemma altogether by creating ads that use the same language and images as your landing page. That way, there are no surprises when users get to your site.

4. Evaluate Your Landing Page’s First Impression

It only takes your brain 0.013 seconds to identify images, and 0.05 seconds for your visitors to form an opinion on your landing page. Their subconscious opinion will then influence every decision they make for the rest of their time on the page.

This is why it’s so important that your message match is strong. It’s also why you need to design your pages with user relevance and functionality in mind. Make sure that your pages are laid out in a way that is intuitive to your viewers, with the high quality images and well-written content that people expect to see from websites.

If any of these elements turn your users off, it becomes an uphill battle all the way to conversion. That means you have to make sure that the first images your viewers see pack a punch and make the impression you want to make.

5. Make Your Page Emotional

This goes hand in hand with your first impression. First impressions start the experience by ensuring that everything meets user standards and is in a familiar location. Emotional elements then create a mood, entice the visitor and draw them deeper into your site.

Shane Jones

Shane Jones

Director of Earned Media at WebpageFX
Shane Jones is the Director of Earned Media at WebpageFX, a Pennsylvania marketing agency. Additionally, Shane is a Reporter at Econsultancy US, where he covers Conversion Marketing and UX Design. Shane loves making friends and wants you to connect with him on Twitter, Google+ or if you reach out via his blog.
Shane Jones

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8 thoughts on “Driving Landing Page Conversions: SEO Tells You Where, But CRO Tells You How

  1. This is all great advice! Thank you for the article. When incorporating social proof, do you recommend requiring moderation of comments? Is this possible with all major social networks?

    1. Thanks so much! I’m glad you found the post helpful. I would say it’s always good practice to moderate comments in all situations :)

  2. People are still obsessed with link building. Example is above ‘a comment without any sense of blog content’

  3. Aside from all the technicalities that you’ve used in your article, the GPS example is so cool!

    The way of writing is also quite interesting – I suppose its inverted pyramid – conclusion first and then the explanation in details.

    Those stats – identifying images, visitors’ reaction and about influence from video are awesome.

    And lastly, the X factor i.e. emotional caricature via legitimate ways.

    Good read indeed! \m/

  4. I think PPC can really help to find those gems (good converting keywords) and then SEO can be used to optimize and rank pages for these keywords. Overall, i think you explained in detail the importance of landing page. Getting traffic to your landing page won’t help much (with SEO/SEM) if the landing page does not sync in with the keywords/ad copy.

  5. I think you’re absolutely right Sandesh. PPC is a very powerful way to find the high converting stuff, instead of taking the much longer time to build a data set via organic traffic. It just goes back to the idea that the best marketers are the most well-rounded!

    Thanks for reading and for the comments!