Conversion rate optimization (CRO) can dovetail effectively with most marketing channels.
However, it is rarely systematically included within search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns, and that is often a mistake.
While SEO and CRO have clearly defined roles to play (which we will explore next), they can also provide substantial cumulative gains, outweighing the value of each when used in isolation.
In this post, I share three of the most impactful reasons for businesses to reconsider a more integrated approach to deploying SEO with CRO.
The Role of SEO
Fundamentally, SEO is positioned to drive awareness and deliver relevant people to your website, ideally on the page(s) most suitable to their search intention and query used.
As an expansive form of earned media, SEO delivers a breadth of coverage, brand, and topical exposure to audiences throughout the information seeking and buying process.
It is the understanding of the user’s desired outcomes through their search behavior and available data sets which enable SEO experts to fuel the marketing funnel with volumes of low-cost potential buyers.
The Role of CRO
By contrast, CRO has a goal of maximizing every website interaction to enhance the ultimate value derived.
Put simply, CRO aims to increase the value of what you already have as well as what you acquire.
CRO can often be left to wait dormant for the required level of traffic to make meaningful decisions.
Or it can be paused until other resources become available such as developer time to implement website change.
Both these items are a mistake.
3 Reasons You Need to Integrate CRO with SEO
The function of SEO does not end by landing a prospective customer on a website.
If it did, customers would not deem SEO as a persistent and “always-on” fundamental element of their marketing strategy.
CRO does not simply pause until a specified number of people land on a website or a company can justify developer time for change to happen.
The fact is that both of these business and marketing specialisms are always required to return closer to the optimum value from any website.
It can be useful to see these disciplines as overlapping rather than completely distinct specialisms to nurture an environment of interaction between the two.
1. The Bulk of Search Opportunity Is Pre-Click
The notion of “conversion” can be brought further forward and support digital marketing goals before people land on a website.
A large part of the untapped opportunity with most search marketing exists within the gap between impressions (people seeing your advert) and clicks (people going to your website).
Click-through rate (CTR) optimization is an ever-active part of delivering SEO and can be supported hugely with the call to action (CTA) depth of expertise of the CRO and SEO experts combined.
What Is a Call to Action?
Purchases are the most obvious use case for CTAs.
But the most important calls to action are often the ones that keep leads engaged with your brand before they’ve decided to make the purchase, for example:
- Email signups.
- Content downloads.
- Free trials.
- Webinar signups.
With digital marketing, often the initial conversion barrier is getting over the obstacle of enticing a would-be user to click onto your advert and land onto your website in the first place.
2. Everything Can Work Harder
While the focus on this post is the value gained by combining SEO and CRO, the fact is CRO can work perfectly well at a holistic level, as well as integrating CRO with other channels such as PPC.
For businesses, it is the mindset and continued expectation setting that “everything can work harder” which brings CRO to the fore with SEO and other areas too.
Typically SEO will be one of the largest traffic sources for a website and with an associated low cost per visit, this makes SEO an ideal partner for CRO.
With SEO increasing the number of people landing on the commercially impactful parts of your website, CRO has the role of constant iterative testing, ongoing learning, and experiential refinement.
This marriage between specialist services is necessary to reduce wastage and inform each expertise area with insights needed to make them contribute more towards business goals.
As an example of this in action consider the following approach:
- Both SEO and CRO experts focus on the same key service category page.
- On-page SEO changes include keyword insertion into headings, content expansion to cater to new search intent, and technical updates to help the page appear in Google Rich Results.
- CRO focus makes the page load faster and provides access to related content identified as preventing conversions historically.
- It also offers new CTA messaging and placement to support in reading action-taking.
- While these changes have been made, the CRO team is also running an experiment on the page displaying a variation of the page with a new short-form in place which shows to 50% of visitors.
- After 4 weeks of this page being active increases are seen with both traffic and rankings achieved for the page.
- Plus more people are contacting the business without leaving the page.
- The CRO experiment also demonstrates that a persistent short-form generates new conversions (this then feeds into the next experiment on short-form fields and placement).
From the above simple example, you can see how the value derived from both services are enhanced.
Plus there are always the next actions and experiments occurring for future gains to be achieved.
3. The Solution Is Not Always More Traffic
A vast amount of digital marketing emphasis is placed on increasing the amount of traffic to a website.
For SEO, this is more true than paid search due in no small part to the low comparative cost of the traffic acquired through the organic search channel versus paid.
This low-cost traffic association with SEO can lead to excessive wastage when it comes to the revenue-generating potential of SEO.
As well as the total site benefits accrued from the added application of CRO.
Both SEO and CRO can effectively target every part of the purchase funnel.
From Awareness and Interest, through to Desire and Action, each has a function to play to positively impact the outcomes:
As marketing experts and companies increase the emphasis placed on tracking, impacting, and improving the collective value from marketing channels in addition to the direct attributed value of them in isolation, the more marketing becomes increasingly invaluable and impactful.
- How to Use the Synergy Between PPC & SEO to Leverage Campaigns
- A Complete Guide to SEO: What You Need to Know
- 5 Strategic ‘Must-Haves’ to Diversify Your Digital Marketing
In-Post Image: BronHiggs, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
All screenshots taken by author, October 2020