Alexander Kesler, Founder & President at inSegment explains, you can implement the best SEO strategy to increase site traffic, but if those visitors aren’t converting, your efforts are wasted. To ensure that your site not only drives traffic but converts visitors, you must implement an integrated digital strategy that combines SEO and CRO
Yielding high traffic is great, but what’s the point if those visitors aren’t converting? To reap great returns on marketing investments, you must employ an integrated strategy that combines both search engine optimization (SEO) and conversion rate optimization (CRO).
CRO and SEO rely on one another to function properly. While SEO works to increase prospect traffic and improve online visibility, CRO serves to improve how page visitors engage with your site. Therefore, if your site is attracting high volumes of page visitors, but failing to achieve conversions, your strategy is not fully optimized.
The principles of SEO and CRO are undeniably compatible. If you aren’t already convinced, here are a few fundamentals that apply to both SEO and CRO:
- A conversion-optimized page will prove user-friendly and more likely to receive inbound links and referrals, thus improving SEO.
- Having clear and relevant headlines, as opposed to excessively creative ones, will improve both SEO and CRO.
- Using clear content hierarchy, with proper heading tags, will help with SEO and keep focus on the progression of the message and aid conversion.
- A conversion-optimized page should include plenty of relevant keywords that match what visitors are searching for.
- Replacing complex presentations with digestible pieces of content will improve your SEO and conversion rate.
- Search engines will favor pages that are updated frequently. Moreover, keeping layouts and content fresh will prove beneficial for both SEO and CRO.
- Pages that focus on a single topic or product achieve better search engine rankings and improve conversion rates.
SEO Factors Guide CRO Efforts
The SEO field has consistently revolved around the standards imposed by search engines, especially those of Google’s ranking factors. Since stellar SEO involves proper consideration and implementation of these ranking-factor preferences, it’s only natural that the SEO insights most relevant to CRO are rooted in the foundation of these ranking requirements.
To convert site traffic into leads and eventually customers, your strategy must incorporate both SEO and CRO tactics.
1. Focus on User Behavior
Much like SEO, conversion optimization is data-driven and while web analytics may be your greatest asset, you will need to do additional research into your user behavior. Moreover, segmentation analysis is imperative for a well-oiled SEO and CRO strategy. To properly identify your page visitor’s intent, and develop your site accordingly, ask yourself this: “How do different segments interact with your website, and how can you optimize their particular experiences?”
The user-interaction factors most useful for CRO efforts are:
- Dwell time and click backs indicate how long people spend on your page before returning to the original SERP. Session duration – marking the amount of time people remain on your site – is another ranking factor often used as a site-quality signal by Google. Moreover, longer session times may likely result in more favorable SERP rankings.
- Bounce rate is used to calculate the percentage of users that navigate away from your site after viewing a single page. Although bounce rates cannot be ranking factors alone – as they cannot be applied broadly to identify quality content – they surely inform how you should strategize for conversion, especially in creation of A/B tests, fundamental to CRO.
- Direct and repeat traffic are powerful indicators of quality for Google. Google’s search algorithm often collects data from Chrome to determine how often users visit a particular site. Additionally, pages with a lot of direct traffic are favored in SERPs, as they are more likely to contain quality and engaging content.
2. Craft Multiple Conversion Paths
Conversion optimization extends beyond single pages, creating what we call “conversion paths” throughout a website. While, traditional SEO proclaims that breaking up content into multiple steps is usually a bad idea, CRO specialists tell us that multiple-step landing pages can actually convert better, by engaging respondents in a productive dialogue and facilitating proper segmentation. While there is still an open debate on the best site and conversion path orientation, there are clear correlations between great SEO practices and stellar CRO.
Some site-level SEO factors that improve CRO are:
- Site Architecture and Sitemap both improve your site’s relationship with Google, as they allow the engine to easily index your pages and navigate your content. To ensure that your site’s architecture is SEO and CRO-enhanced, make sure your website can accommodate conversion paths without messing up its natural flow.
- Domain TrustRank is a very important ranking factor and a link analysis technique. In short, it analyzes the authority of a site and then presents the most “trustworthy” sources in the primary SERP results. Moreover, if your site boasts quality content and presents itself as a leading industry authority – your site will be favorably displayed by TrustRank.
- Google, as well, indexes SSL certificates and uses HTTPS as a ranking signal. Many site visitors are reluctant to offer credit card details and other personal data over the Internet – and reasonably so. To provide a sense of security and convert more site visitors, obtaining an SSL certificate is crucial and lets Google know that you are running a legitimate and secure business.
- Mobile friendly sites have also time-after-time proven to rank better with Google. Even before the April 2015 “Mobile Friendly” Google algorithm update, it was not unthinkable to assume that mobile friendly sites had an advantage in searches from mobile devices. In fact, Google displays “Mobile Friendly” tags next to mobile search results.
Also, keep in mind that Google has precise standards for evaluating what constitutes mobile friendly design. For your reference, Google WebMaster Central offers details about mobile friendly requirements. Additionally, you can assess your website’s current mobile performance with this Mobile Friendly Test.
3. Provide Quality Content & Ensure Authoritative Page Layout
In both SEO and CRO, content is king. In SEO, quality content wins you backlinks, and in conversion optimization, it wins you customers. You should never allow technical aspects to eclipse what is truly important: creating a compelling value proposition and meaningful brand experiences.
Page-level SEO factors prove crucial for conversion
Using keywords correctly throughout webpages is critical to your online marketing strategy when trying to improve your search engine ranking and conversion rates. Keywords must be used in URLs, title tags, description tags, and heading tags. Also, fairly distributing keywords throughout your site’s content is crucial. While you may want your keywords to be the most frequently used elements on the page, be sure to not overstuff content with keywords – use them intelligently and always favor usability. A link or review from an established source – thanks to the quality of your content – will have much more of an impact than keyword density. On the other hand, keyword prominence might be an important relevancy signal. Moreover, make sure to include your keywords in snippets and in the first 100 words of your content.
Furthermore, a great page layout influences rankings and conversion – if not directly as a quality signal -at least by scoring in the “user-friendly category.” An easy to navigate site will always keep readers coming back for more. Moreover, ensure a quality and sensible page layout by making main and relevant content immediately visible and easily accessible.
Having effective content assets is critical to SEO and CRO. Considering that the average user attention span is becoming increasingly shorter, one would expect a rise in shorter content to efficiently catch the attention of users. However, on the contrary, long articles more often rank and convert better than shorter pieces.
4. Build Links, Build Trust, & Build Rapport
One of the driving goals of SEO is link building, while CRO most often deals with links in terms of conversion paths. Although landing pages usually do not contain links themselves, other than the call to action (CTA), many SEO factors concerning link building apply to CRO in crucial ways.
Here are some examples:
- The quality and word-count of the linking content make a significant difference in link value. For instance, receiving a link from a 2,000+ word well-written article weighs much more than a link from a short comment or a poorly written blog post.
- “Poisonous” anchor text pointed toward your site may be a sign of spam or a hacked site. Either way, it can hurt your SERP ranking and your conversion rates, particularly when the anchor texts in question are stuffed with pharmaceutical keywords.
- You have the option to disavow links. If there are low-quality links pointing to your landing pages, or you receive unnatural links warnings from Webmaster Tools, you can always use the Disavow Tool. It will not remove the harmful links themselves, but at least it will eliminate them from Google’s assessment of your site.
- Contextual links placed within the body of a page’s content are more valuable than links found in sidebars, footers, or anywhere else on the page. Therefore, on top of PPC ads, try getting your landing pages mentioned within relevant content on relevant websites.
5. Attract and Convert Customers via a Prominent Brand Identity
Over the last few years, user behavior has been shifting towards a multi-source, multiple stage process when individuals are faced with making a purchasing decision. Regardless of how persuasive your landing pages are and how well they present solutions to prospective customers specific needs, your brand needs to back up its claims with a healthy social media presence and SEO effort that encompasses social factors.
Here are a few of the factors that can inform CRO specialists on what needs to be done:
- Google favors real brands and real businesses, with real offices and real people, so it only makes sense they would verify businesses and brands by their website and social media location data. MOZ suggests that Google takes it a step further by looking to see whether a website is associated with a tax-paying business or not and factors this information into its SERP rankings.
- Having well-established social media profiles can help to not only position your brand as a leader but it can also increase your rankings and brand identity. Social media account authority weighs considerably in SERPs, especially since social media has become a major influencer of consumer behavior.
A link shared on multiple accounts will be more valuable than the same link shared multiple times on one account
Striking the perfect balance
When determining or assessing your digital strategy, it is integral to realize that SEO and CRO go hand-in-hand. In fact, developing integrated approach that balances SEO and CRO tactics can drive a greater volume of higher quality website leads. To guarantee that your site not only stands out in the sea of websites but also converts its page visitors, be sure to consider the tips outlined above.