CRO and SEO: Why You Should Focus on Both

CRO vs SEO Banner
by: John Surdakowski07/26/2021

Quick Summary Many people are under the impression that a webpage should focus on either CRO or SEO; however, when you don't focus your optimization on both CRO and SEO, your eCommerce website can suffer and lose both views and potential customers.


CRO and SEO: Why You Should Focus on Both

A blend of both CRO and SEO at work for your page will improve user experience and website traffic, increase sales revenue, and contribute to a lower bounce rate of potential customers from your page to a competitor's. 

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What Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Commonly referred to as SEO, search engine optimization is the process of improving your website's ranking on search engines, driving more organic traffic to your website, and, in turn, hopefully raising revenue through more page views. 

Effective SEO is accomplished by publishing relevant content on your website containing keywords you hope to rank for sprinkled throughout the text and in section headers. 

Imagine you're hoping to rank for your company that sells high-end commercial bar products. You would want to have content on your website that focuses on topics such as different aspects of the food and beverage industry, how to use your company's products to make different cocktails, or how your customers are using your company's bar tools and products to level up their restaurants' offerings. This would boost your search engine rankings for keywords relating to food and beverage service, bringing more organic viewers to your page that are searching for those keywords and topics. 

What Is Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)?

Conversion rate optimization, or CRO as it's commonly referred to, is the strategic process of optimizing your website in a way that converts visitors to purchasers, increasing sales and revenue. 

However, CRO can also indicate the process of getting people to take action of some type on your website, such as contacting your company, filling out a form, or joining your mobile app.‌

How CRO and SEO Differ

Optimizing for both CRO and SEO is a technical and complex process that involves various strategies. They are each different strategies for curating a customer's experience on your website and achieving an end goal per visitor to your site. Some SEO strategies are detrimental to CRO and vice versa.

SEO

Search engine optimization works to increase traffic to your page. There are on-page and off-page SEO strategies for improving website traffic. SEO champions lengthy copy filled with keywords and a few Calls to Action (CTAs). 

SEO can take longer than CRO to produce customers. With SEO, the priority is on keyword placement in the body of content and headers, which will bring more organic traffic to a web page. 

CRO

Conversion rate optimization focuses on converting visitors already on your website into customers. Pages optimized for conversion typically consist of shorter copy and more CTAs throughout the website's pages than purely SEO-focused pages. 

With CRO, a website will have a precise, low word count where the priority is compelling sales copy that makes people want to buy. Headers are typically catchier and flashier than those optimized for SEO. 

How CRO and SEO Overlap and Relate to the Other

A common misconception is that CRO and SEO have to be two separate processes, with pages on your site being optimized for one or the other. While this is true in some respects, there is some CRO and SEO overlap. 

Without traffic on your page, there's no point in trying to focus on converting your nonexistent visitors to paying customers. On the flip side, if your site's user experience is convoluted, illogical, and not easy or intuitive, you don't want to be pushing visitors to your site and risk giving them a negative impression of your brand or product. 

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Some metrics where CRO and SEO overlap:

Page speed

If visitors to your page have to wait too long for it to load, they're likely to leave and look at a competitor's page. Studies show that 53% of mobile users will leave a page after only three seconds if it doesn't load correctly. After 10 seconds, everyone's gone, and the website may as well not exist at all. 

User Experience

If visitors to your page have a pleasant experience interacting with your website and they don't have to search to find what they're looking for, they're more likely to stay on the page and end up converting to paying customers. 

Simple Navigation

Simple, intuitive site navigation is imperative to making your site one that users want to use. Websites with complex or esoteric interfaces may be intriguing and beloved by a niche group, but they aren't the type of websites ranking high on Google and getting thousands of hits a day. 

Optimized for Both Mobile and Desktop 

More than half of all search traffic now comes from mobile devices. So, if the content on your site isn't optimized for mobile viewers, you'll miss out on more than half of your potential customers.‌

As a general rule, when working on mobile optimization, ensure the page layout is displaying the most important content above the fold — meaning the content that is immediately viewable when a user first reaches the page.

Easy-to-Understand Content

If users come to your website and don't find what they're looking for, they're going to go elsewhere pretty quickly. This is why it's crucial that your website is straightforward and not misleading in any way. If your page ranks for beauty and skincare products yet you sell no beauty products, for example, a user looking to buy beauty and skincare items will go elsewhere to spend their money. 

It's imperative that the content on your website matches what you're selling or relates to the goal you're hoping to achieve. If people coming to your website are "suckered into" clicking on it through misleading meta descriptions or other SEO ranking metrics, you're going to have a high bounce rate. This bodes poorly for both SEO and CRO. 

Tips to Optimize Both SEO Strategy and CRO Strategy 

In simple terms, the best way to optimize conversion rates and search rankings is by attracting more of your target demographic. 

By understanding the SEO funnel that consumers go through before clicking "confirm purchase", you'll be able to put a better plan in place for attracting your target demographic through SEO and converting them to paying customers through CRO.

The SEO funnel has four stages:‌

1. Awareness: Customers at this stage are aware that they want something and are beginning their search for a solution to fill their need, whether that's a LifeHack for the current situation they're in or a special type of skincare product to help them cope with their condition. 

2. Evaluation: The potential customer knows what their problem is or what product they want, but they're looking around for the best solutions before choosing. 

3. Conversion: Your potential customer is serious about buying your service or product, but they may need a nudge to seal the deal. This stage of CRO focuses on providing relevant information about your product — such as testimonials or why your product is superior to your competitor's product. 

4. Retention: This stage is valuable to consider if your product or service is the type that someone is likely to want to purchase again, either for themselves or for someone else. 

Additional Tips for Improving Both SEO and CRO Strategy 

You can speed up site speed by converting any PNG images on the website to JPEGs, as well as by utilizing tools for cleaning up unnecessary garbage code lying around in your website's backend. 

You can find data like heat maps that will help update web pages' design to be simple in their user experience yet enticing to spend time on. 

Optimizing your website for simplistic navigation makes it easier for visitors to navigate to what they want, and hopefully, some other things they didn't know they wanted. A simplistic design layout also makes it easier for Google and other page rankers to index your site. ‌

Ensuring that you keep up-to-date on mobile versions of your website to keep them functioning just as well as a desktop interface will go a long way for gaining and retaining viewers and customers. Keep in mind that more than half of all searches are done via mobile devices these days. 

Putting CRO and SEO Together to Grow Your Business

Though there are significant differences in how SEO and CRO work and the explicit goal of each, it's essential to keep in mind that you can use both effectively and reap the benefits of each. You'll be bringing in more organic web traffic and converting more visitors to your site into paying customers. 

Through good SEO, you'll get more users to your site. Through good CRO, you'll turn more of them into paying customers. Use both together, and you're set up to succeed. 

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