For many years, the acronyms (and their respective budgets) have been feuding. But our blog title is a bit of a trick question, because if either side wins, your organization is the one that will lose.
In fact, neither hurt one another. Rather both of these departments need to work in tandem for higher profitability.
What is CRO?
Did you recognize that one? Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) as explained by Moz:
"simply focusing on the conversion as the core metric when optimizing any particular page. I personally see this as an offshoot of Landing Page Optimization (LPO) and is sometimes seen as just another way of saying LPO. Most people see LPO/CRO as just for PPC campaigns, but anyone that assumes that is missing some great information they could be using in their SEO efforts."
If SEO focuses on ranking for targeted search queries, then CRO takes over after a visitor has landed on your site and deals with user experience. Search engines are becoming increasingly about the user experience on your site and therefore so should you.
But what ultimately defines success?
Most businesses see a conversion as a form completed or a sale. However, a conversion can really be anything, so long as it's your business' goal. --Tweet This!
Time on site or bounce rate can be a conversion goal if your website was designed to make money off impression advertising. Additionally, links themselves can be a conversion if you ran a content campaign specifically to generate inbound links.
In all honesty, neither SEO or CRO or PPC or any piece of your digital marketing strategy can stand on its own. They all must work together for the best results.
How do you effectively integrate SEO and CRO?
We can all agree that qualified visitors are much more valuable because they're likely ready to make a buying decision. But conversion optimization can help SEO in other ways too:
- A page that's optimized for conversions will be more usable and visitor-friendly, which makes it more likely to receive inbound links and referrals
- Search engines will reward pages that are updated frequently, so it doesn't hurt to keep things fresh (both layout and content--and makes a great case for constant testing!)
- A conversion optimized page should be using more relevant keywords that match what visitors are searching for
So let's jump into why and how SEO and CRO can effectively work together:
1. Strategically using keywords
Before you can optimize a page for conversions, you need to first understand visitor intent. Keywords are the quickest and easiest ways to glean that information. An effective landing page will use keywords to let visitors know they are in the right place, and then makes it easy for them to see why and how to take the next step.
Now, after some testing, you might identify that visitors are are searching for "pet obedience training" but want to see information about "organic dog treat options" because responsible doggie parents want to give their fur babies holistic and healthy rewards during their training sessions. So how do you include information about organic dog treat options without hurting your rankings?
With SEO, there are a few on-page heroes: title tag, content and internal links. Keep both the title tag and internal links focused on "pet obedience training" to give them what they're initially looking for. The big change will come within the content itself. Provide a balanced focus on both "pet obedience training" and "organic dog treat options", but use "organic dog treat options" in the header.
URL slug: /dog-obedience-training.com
Title: Dog Obedience Training from Local Company
Headline: Organic Dog Treat Options for Sessions
Copy: Obedience training is essential to having a well-behaved pet, but as a responsible pet parent, we know you want to reward your furry four-legged family member with organic dog treats.
Internal anchor link: "obedience training"
2. Balance design with rankings
The marketing team did some of their own testing and discovered that Flash-based elements have higher conversion rates. But, knowing what you know about SEO components, flash content is virtually invisible to search engines. Impossible solution? Negative.
Compromise by incorporating Flash above the fold and incorporating text below with all your appropriate keywords. A well SEO'd page can use Flash, so long as it isn't the only element. All other ranking factors should be the same. The title tag should be strong, your on-page content should be strong and your URL should be strong. Remember, there will be some people who can't see Flash, so strong, static content is non-negotiable. All that said, be sure to keep an eye on your page load speed--Flash can be a hindrance and thus affect your ranking.
3. During your conversion optimization testing, use a proper tool
Smart online marketers utilize tests all day, every day. But, there's a pervasive misconception, or maybe an irrational fear, that A/B testing can hurt your search rankings. It's false. --Tweet This!
I'll share a few tips:
- Add your variation pages to to your robots.txt file during the testing period to block spiders for a double layer of protection against duplicate content penalties.
- Use the same title tag, URL slug and meta description on your variation pages as in your control pages.
- Once a winning page has been determined, it should be double-checked for SEO best practices.
- When you replace your control (or old) page with the new higher-converting page, use a 301 redirect from your variation page URLs in case anyone linked to one of the variation pages during the test.
This is an important topic for any small business or marketers wanting to achieve both top rankings and conversions. Any other tips? Please feel free to add your comments or questions below!