CRO vs SEO – Do They Hurt Each Other?
Most business owners are aware of search engine optimisation (SEO) and how important it is for most businesses. Not so many are aware of conversion rate optimisation (CRO) and how it impacts SEO. Let’s take a look at when you should focus on SEO, when you should focus on CRO and when you can do both at the same time.
When to focus on SEO
Landing pages that require SEO are those that are designed to increase organic traffic or to encourage social sharing of your content. Ultimately, the goal of these pages is to help your website grow as an authority in your field, and as this happens, Google will naturally rank your web pages higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
These include pages where you focus on increasing your brand exposure and growing the trust and loyalty of your audience, as well as engaging your readers and increasing the social shares of your content.
On these pages, when a visitor finishes reading your blog post for example, they may well simply leave your site. On the other hand they may share your post with their social network or even purchase one of your products.
The whole point is that the focus on these pages is not on conversions, but is on increasing traffic, building authority and promoting positive relationships with your audience by using engaging and interesting content. If someone purchases a product, that is a bonus, but not the main focus of these pages.
When to focus on CRO
You need to focus on CRO when the focus of your web page is on conversions and sales, rather than on traffic and authority building. So you might have a page where the goal is on increasing subscriptions to your email list, signing up for a free trial or purchasing a product or service.
These pages are specifically designed to convert visitors from browsers to buyers. You don’t need SEO here, you don’t necessarily need to focus on keywords and you don’t need to worry about building relationships. You don’t even need to worry about sharing these pages across any social networks.
These pages are built to convert and nothing more. You are not trying to rank these pages as with those that are focused on SEO and high quality content. If by chance they are shared, that’s great, but their focus is on conversions.
When to focus on both CRO and SEO
There may well be pages on your website where you want to focus on both SEO and CRO. So this means that you not only want to convert visitors on these pages, but you also want to rank these pages in the SERPs.
Unfortunately, achieving both of the goals and doing so really well, usually only works for web sites that have a high domain authority. These sites are usually branded companies that have a high profile both online and in their physical stores and have built a strong reputation within the community.
This means that if you have a page where you want to convert visitors to buyers and rank the same page, the best plan of action is to focus on SEO first and build an authority site with engaging and sharable content. So your first goal should always be to build positive relationships with your audience, giving them content that they like and will want to share and to rank these pages.
That’s not to say that one of your pages won’t achieve both goals, even if you are not a big player. It is just that if you have not first built a considerable reputation within your field, both online and offline, achieving both goals on the same page will be difficult.
So is there any point in focusing on both CRO and SEO on the same page?
The short answer is yes, because you can optimise a page for conversions, that already ranks well in the SERPs and you can also try to rank a page that is converting well.
Both SEO and CRO actually work well together, it’s just that there are times when you really do need to focus on one or the other.
Increasing the traffic, ranking and share worthiness of highly converting pages
If a page is already converting well, then there must be enough high quality content that helps these conversions. Your content must already be engaging and your bounce rate not high or else it would not convert so well.
So all you need to do on a highly converting site, is to include the keywords in the title of the page and optimise the content by sprinkling these keywords throughout the page. So once a page is converting well, focus on keywords and optimised content to increase your domain and page authority.
Increasing the conversions on a highly ranking page
If your page is already ranking well, then you have a good amount of traffic, social sharing and authority. All you need to do now is to add your conversion pitch and links. Anything you do at this point to increase conversions, will not affect your domain or page authority.
Some people who are ranking well are too afraid to make any CRO changes in case they lose their rankings and some of those that are converting well are afraid to optimise for search engines, in case they lose their conversions.
How to rank well in the SERPs
No-one really knows the exact algorithms Google uses to rank sites, but we do know that it involves information in 5 well defined areas. These areas are:
- High quality content.
- Keyword and content optimisation.
- Domain and page authority.
- User-friendliness, bounce statistics, average time on a web page, etc.
- Does your website employ spammy SEO techniques i.e. keyword stuffing, too many keywords in anchor text links, etc.
Making CRO changes to a high ranking page can only affect 1, 2, or 4, it is very unlikely to affect the other ranking components. So unless you make some serious mistakes by including a lot of spammy links and changing your keywords, CRO should not reduce your rankings.
So the take home message is that even if you don’t perform perfect SEO on a highly converting web page or you mess up the CRO on a highly ranking landing page, you most likely won’t affect your domain authority or your page authority.
For more information on CRO, SEO or web design, call us on 02 8211 0668, email us at [email protected] or complete our online enquiry form.
Meg is a Project Manager/Producer at Cornerstone with a special interest in conversion rate optimisation. She has a business analysis background and thinks the web would be a better place if everyone looked at their web statistics daily.