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SEO + CRO – combining opposing concepts to attract and retain quality traffic

Willem Blom
Willem Blom
Impact investor & Global SVP Growth – DEPT®
5 min read
1 April 2021

Many people believe Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) are two different concepts. SEO revolves around getting traffic to your website while CRO converts users once they are on your platform. Yet these two ideas actually complement each other, and together they can help you secure high-quality traffic.

Boost your organic traffic

SEO is about making a site appealing to search engines. That way, when a user has a question or query, your site shows up in the top results when possible. When it comes to showing results to a user, your content is evaluated based on search intent, your authority as a brand, backlinks, exit rate, page speed, content quality, and even mobile-friendliness. This information is piled into an algorithm which crunches the numbers and spits the results back out. These results are then ranked and showcased, giving the user the most relevant answer to their question.

So SEO is about optimising processes for machine learning which, in turn, provides users with the best answer given their search queries. One could say SEO is a natural way of directing organic traffic to your website. It’s a long-term strategy and involves various techniques such as using targeted keywords, technical optimisation, creating valuable content and link building. But by meeting certain criteria and being in the top search results on Google or Bing, you can drive more traffic towards your website. 

Increase your conversions and revenue

CRO is about enabling website visitors to take a specific action when they visit a site. By designing and tweaking certain elements, this will result in higher engagement levels and/or sales depending on your company goal. Because if your customer has to struggle to complete their purchase or even find what they are looking for, they will close your tab and simply move on to the next vendor. Simply put it’s a way of converting a website visitor into a customer. 

There are very easy ways you can improve your CRO. First, start by having clear goals and KPIs which reflect your company’s needs. Based on these objectives, you can delve into existing bottlenecks and optimisation opportunities using tools such as Google Analytics or heatmaps. Lastly, once you have identified bottlenecks and established a game plan to change these, you will want to A/B test potential modifications to ensure these tweaks meet your desired criteria. Thus, CRO is about optimising your websites for your consumers so they can successfully complete the sales funnel.

SEO and CRO – a love story

By combining SEO and CRO, you are optimising two different stages of your sales funnel. First, you make it easier for customers to find you, and then you help them have a smooth experience on your website and complete their intended action. 

So now, when optimising pages, remember that each page has its own goal. For example, your homepage is about telling your brand story, but it also helps guide users to the most important categories on your website and showcases your brand personality. That’s why tabs should be clearly visible to users, so they can quickly access what they are searching for or see what is available.

Quick links are also important, especially for mobile users, to make navigation easier. So instead of showing generic categories, this is an opportunity to show specific categories. These categories are based on data such as which pages or product categories people visit the most, or which item is the most purchased. Creating quick links around that information means mobile users can easily access what they are looking for.

Your homepage probably also includes a Call To Action. Making it descriptive not only benefits your SEO ranking (since it refines your purpose and keywords), but it also allows the customer to know what to expect from your website.

Lastly, keep pop-ups to a minimum. In fact, consider not having any pop-ups on the home page, as they’re very intrusive. Users might close your tab if that is the first thing they see and it could also prevent Google from indexing the content properly.

To combine SEO and CRO, there is an easy four-step implementation process:

  • Ensure the basics are in place — this is more SEO focused. It’s important to have the right tools in place to see what’s working and to be able to measure results/failures.
  • Research user behaviour — this step is more CRO focused. Based on data, identify how users navigate your website and where potential bottlenecks are. Look at what keywords are being used to find your site since this tells something about consumer expectations and the needs of the audience that’s landing on your website.
  • Start testing — based on the above results, tweak content a bit to match consumer needs/expectations and see how that affects various metrics (such as bounce rate, exit rate, time spent on page).
  • Learning and evaluation — it’s all about continuous optimisation, but also find your strong points so you know what not to change.

Ultimately, both concepts depend on the other for success. They both require quality content and user-friendly website design since page speed and mobile architecture affect both your ranking and conversion rate. Let’s break away from the traditional view that these are two opposing tactics, and combine them to attract quality traffic to your website, and retain it.

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