I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – marketing people, especially digital marketing people, love a good initialism. One which is often on their lips is SEO – which I hope you know by now stands for search engine optimisation. Closely following, hot on the tails of SEO as a collection of letters often on the lips of coffee-carrying, big glasses-wearing, Macbook-using marketing people is CRO. CRO stands for conversion rate optimisation – which I’ve covered in an earlier blog post.
As I covered in the aforementioned article, it’s all well and good nailing the SEO for your website, but if you’ve got people coming in who ain’t converting, then you’ve got a problem. So you must turn the practice of CRO to ensure that people who are coming to your website, both via organic search traffic and otherwise, have the best chance of converting into a lead.
That being said, here are a few things you might not know about how SEO and CRO relate to each other.
Google (there are obviously other search engines, but as it’s the most popular and widely used by far, let’s focus on Google) uses hundreds of ranking factors or “signals” when deciding where to rank your website for a keyword. This includes everything from the age of your domain to how helpful it believes the content on your page to be. Some of the signals Google looks at are a bit of a mystery, and SEO gurus can only guess at what they think makes a difference. One signal which can be overlooked, but is definitely used, is behavioural data. Google considers how often users bounce straight off your page after visiting, how long they spend on your page, and other statistics to help it decide whether you’re relevant to that particular keyword or not. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to make your page engaging, and to effectively move visitors through the flow of your site into next steps, in order to signal to Google that your site is relevant, helpful and trustworthy.
It’s all about keywords
As I’ve already alluded to, and as you’ve probably heard by now, SEO starts with keywords. You need to have a good understanding and feel for what your customers and prospects might be searching for in order to seek out your product(s) or service(s).
Once you’re performing well for a range of keywords in the search results, you can drill into which ones convert best, and therefore deserve more of your attention and focus. Granted, this is more difficult for the organic results as it is for PPC, largely because of ‘not provided’ traffic, bit it’s still possible by using Analytics and Search Console query data to get a bit of insight into which keyword or keywords are leading to the most conversions.
If you’re doing PPC as well as SEO, this unlocks even more powerful conversion data, and you can use this to feed your SEO strategy. You could also flip this – is there a keyword you’re ranking really well for, and getting lots of traffic for, but it’s simply not converting? In this case, you probably want to look at your landing page and apply that all important CRO lens – is it delivering what was promised in the search results? Too much content? Not enough? Next steps not clear enough? Whatever the reason, this can be a great way to leverage traffic you’re already getting and convert them into all-important leads.
Paths, funnels, and other words
Realistically, how often will a prospect search for a keyword, land on your site, and convert right there and then? Probably not as often as you’d like to think. They might land on your site originally via a search engine, take genuine interest in your content, but leave without taking any action. They might then come back multiple times using different methods – maybe they forgot your name so have to search again. Then the second time they remember or note down your name and come to you direct. After multiple visits, they’re ready to convert. Now, there’s a chance this series of actions might happen on their own, but if you understand and leverage how people are interacting with you across multiple touch points, you can turn that into a nice little uplift in conversions.
If you have goal tracking set up, you can use Google Analytics to uncover this information. Go to your Analytics dashboard, and on the left-hand side select Conversions, then Multi-Channel Funnels. Using the various views within this section, you can get a feel for which channels are working in harmony together to lead to the most conversions. In the example below, we can see that Organic Search followed by Direct Visit were the most highly converting paths. Using this information, you could consider how to improve the organic visibility as well as the user experience on your landing page to ensure that more first time organic visitors come back and convert.
I think that’s a nice neat point to end on. Just like anything in marketing, you can’t look at one tactic, asset or channel in isolation. It’s important to consider how everything fits together in order to lead to the engagement and conversions you need. This is particularly important when it comes to the two tactics in this article, because strong SEO leads to better conversion rates, and strong user experience and CRO in turn influences better SEO performance.
If you’d like any more advice on optimising your website for search engines and humans, get in touch.