How to Combine Conversion Optimization with SEO

| August 11, 2009

Note: This is part one of a two-part series on the overlap between CRO and SEO and how they work together. Part two discusses how to do CRO without hurting your SEO. There’s also a video interview where I talk about SEO and CRO a bit too.

We all know what a beautiful thing an effectively search-engine-optimized site is. Traffic flows in from natural search rankings without you spending huge monthly fees for pay-per-click ads.

However, you also know that site traffic is useless unless those visitors become customers – and that’s where Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO, also known as Conversion Optimization) is required.

(Note: WiderFunnel’s Conversion Optimization services are often confused with Search Engine Optimization or SEO. If you get confused with the word ‘Optimization’, you’re focusing on the wrong word. If we were in the business of ‘Pancake Optimization’, we would probably be pursuing the perfect pancake, right? Likewise, Conversion Rate Optimization is the pursuit of the optimal Conversion Rate, not a higher Search Engine Ranking.)

Without Conversion Optimization, all the Search Engine Optimization in the world will, at best, increase your traffic levels, but your conversion rate will not improve. Or worse, unsophisticated onsite SEO techniques will actually lower your Conversion Rate. (You know the type of site I mean; the copy is so filled with repetitive keywords that it’s nearly impossible to read. That’s a credibility killer.)

If you’ve already been successful driving traffic with SEO you may be nervous (and justifiably so) that testing a new layout or content could hurt your search rankings. In our experience, however, that is rarely a significant risk.

How can I say that?

SEO and CRO Can Play Well Together

Fortunately, the principles of SEO and Conversion Rate Optimization are totally compatible. Here are some foundational principles that apply to both SEO and CRO:

  • You will achieve better Search Engine rankings with pages that focus on a single topic or product. This will improve your conversion rate too.
  • Changing clever headlines (ie. your ad agency’s ‘Big Idea’) to Clear and Relevant headlines will improve both SEO and CRO.
  • Replacing complex content presentations and animation (ie. Flash-esque content) will usually improve your SEO and Conversion Rate.
  • Using clear content hierarchy with proper heading tags will help with SEO and force you to think about your message progression, which will likely help your Conversion Rate too.

As a Google Authorized Consultant, I’ve spoken with key individuals at Google about this question and their stated policy is to not penalize pages that have been tested using Google Website Optimizer. They’ve told me that Google wants to reward pages that provide what visitors are searching for. In fact, Google has requested that we provide any examples of conversion-optimized pages that have decreased in search or quality score ranking due to conversion rate optimization so they can address it. We have yet to see a single example.

Conversion optimization can help your SEO efforts 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 index pages more highly that are updated frequently, so it doesn’t hurt to keep the layout and content fresh
  • A conversion optimized page should be using more relevant keywords that match what visitors are searching for

Read the next post, for the process to use to ensure your Conversion Optimization efforts don’t hurt your SEO rankings.

Sign up for the conversion rate optimization blog here to make sure you don’t miss any upcoming articles!

If you find this interesting please share with your friends or colleagues:

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  • seo reseller

    Without Conversion Optimization, all the Search Engine Optimization in the world will, at best, increase your traffic levels, but your conversion rate will not improve

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    If you have the right strategy about link building then you will get the successful results from it otherwise without a good strategy not only it will be a waste of time but also it will give or produce your low quality results.

  • dentals websites

    As a Google Authorized Consultant, I’ve spoken with key individuals at Google about this question and their stated policy is to not penalize pages that have been tested using Google Website Optimizer

  • Agnes

    I couldn't agree more than what you have expressed through your article. You can get loads of leads or sales when you combine conversion optimization with some SEO stuff. I would like to give a suggestion, it is adding a squeeze page to both of the things mentioned above. Thanks.

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    This is the post just what I was looking for and finally found here and through the assist of this post I have come to know that what is the exact way to combine conversion optimization with seo. Thanks

  • maine seo

    Nice post on SEO and conversions, I learned a few things to take into consideration.

  • Shobhit

    A good practice to improve conversion rate on static business sites is to add a “request quote” button which scrolls through out the page along the scroll bar. It improves the number of leads coming to a site.

  • Jon – Pro Seo Web

    Well done, Chris. Simple, clear and very important post,
    It may be obvious, but we forget about it too often. Content may be the king but conversion will always be the queen needed for everything to work. Visits and money are not the same thing, but a good CRO put them closer.

  • Web Marketing

    Pretty great post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to

    mention that I have truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts.

    After all I will be subscribing to your feed and I’m hoping you write again soon!

  • Alex Becker

    At the end of the day making money online comes down to 2 things.

    1, Traffic (seo, adwords, fb , the 100 other ways to generate traffic)
    2. Conversions

    • Adam

      Right on!

  • akkalaria

    Nice article

  • Adam Erhart

    Great article! Thanks for posting this!

  • Eddie

    Hello Chris, this posting is indeed very meaningful. It's true nowadays many new online users pretending they are good SEO analyst, but the crucial fact is among them many don't know the proper meaning or work schedule of search engine optimization or CRO properly. Thus, I think this post will be an ideal education for those who have intention to learn the difference between SEO and CRO, and how to combine these two together.

  • Wyatt Miller

    Great Piece

  • Aaron Rogers

    Great tips on SEO. Too many people forget the basics of good search engine optimization and their websites suffer for it.

  • Internet Marketing

    Never believe anybody who promises you number 1 ranking on Google and other search engines. The progress of your website in search engine results (SERP) once you're done with your SEO campaign depends on a number of factors including the level of competition. If the competition in your niche is high then making it to the first page becomes hard let alone making it to the first spot. One more thing; just because your website makes it to number 1 on Google does not necessarily mean that it will stay there; if any unethical tactics have been used, your website is at risk of being banned or demoted.