Article

David Wells
David Wells 20 February 2020

SEO vs. CRO: Increase Traffic Without Damaging Your Rankings

There are two aspects of digital marketing that are vital to the success of a business: SEO to get customers to your website, and CRO to get those customers to convert. Part of the challenge is that the needs and desires of these disciplines are not always aligned. In this article, David Wells takes a look at some of the ways you can optimise your site for conversions without causing problems for your SEO.

There are two aspects of digital marketing that are absolutely vital to the success of a business: search engine optimisation (SEO) to get customers to your website, and conversion rate optimisation (CRO) to get those customers to convert once they get there. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But part of the challenge here is that the needs and desires of these disciplines are not always aligned.

Sometimes the things that a business does to improve its SEO can have a negative effect on its ability to convert at a high level. And making changes that make more visitors more likely to buy can actually put Google off your website and lead to a drop in your hard-earning positions in the rankings.

However, SEO and CRO can co-exist peacefully – in fact, with a bit of careful planning the two can complement each other perfectly. Here we take a look at some of the ways that you can optimise your site for conversions without causing problems for your SEO.

Not everything that is good for SEO is bad for conversions

One of the classic battlegrounds between SEO and CRO is image size. Want to rank higher on Google? SEO best practice says that you should focus on quick page loading speed – and that means using images with small file sizes. But hold on a minute, says CRO, if you want customers to convert on your site, you need beautiful high definition images – and that means large file sizes.

The truth here is that you need to find that middle ground that benefits both aspects. Beautiful images might well be inspiring and aspirational for customers, but that doesn’t mean they’ll convert. And guess what has a big effect on conversion rate: that’s right, page loading speed.

A recent study showed that pages that load of 2.4 seconds had a conversion rate of 1.9%. Pages that load at 4.2 saw that number nearly cut in half, at less than 1% conversion rate. So, it turns out faster page loading is a win-win for SEO and CRO.

Target the right traffic

Testing is an absolutely vital aspect of CRO – to get the right calls-to-action, or button colour, or banner images, you’ll need to test them out and see how they work on your site. But one thing that can get overlooked is testing the traffic coming into your site. It is vital to understand which keywords deliver which type of traffic to you.

It is no use pumping all of your SEO efforts into keywords that don’t convert. You might have heard of the Pareto Principle (or the 80/20 Rule), and it is certainly relevant here: 80% of your conversions will originate from 20% of your keywords. It is up to you to find that 20% and exploit it.

Get the best of both worlds with on-page content

Another issue dividing these two digital marketing fields is that of on-page content. A larger word count on a page is correlated with higher rankings – it is also much more likely to get social shares, organic traffic, and visitor engagement. But here’s a problem: if you want your pages to convert, they’ll need to be easy to read.

Using brief, succinct text and getting very quickly to the point are the best friends of converting content. So, while pouring your heart out, Leo Tolstoy-style might get visitors to your site, they probably won’t be sticking around to convert.

But of course, this doesn’t need to be an either-or scenario. Prioritise snappy, short-form content at the top of your page, providing those customers looking to convert with all the information they need, and add in-depth content well below the fold. This means those a little further back on the customer journey can get everything they need from your site.

Getting your links right

Facts are facts: links are still absolutely vital to SEO in 2020. Many businesses, however, think of building links as something unrelated to CRO. However, it is important to start to implement conversions into your thinking as your considering your link strategies. Get it right, and links can have a positive effect on your conversions, not just your rankings.

Final thoughts

It is vital that businesses start to think of SEO and CRO, not as two opposing forces, but rather digital marketing challenges that are much more effective when they are synchronised. Every decision your company makes about SEO should consider the CRO implications and vice versa.

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