How to Align SEO With CRO – Tips and Best Practices For Success

Search engine optimization (SEO) and conversion rate optimization (CRO) both play crucial roles in the world of digital marketing. SEO drives organic traffic to websites, while CRO converts site visitors into leads and paying customers. 

Prioritizing one without the other won’t yield the results you’re looking for. But prioritizing both without alignment between the two is even worse—as you could be spending valuable time, money, and resources on strategies that are counterintuitive. In some cases, your SEO and CRO strategies may be working directly against each other. 

If you want more site traffic and higher conversion rates, this guide is for you.

We’ll break down the key differences between SEO and CRO before diving into the importance of aligning the two. Then I’ll walk you through some actionable strategies that you can follow to enhance your SEO and CRO efforts that will add clarity to your approach and boost your digital marketing ROI. 

SEO vs. CRO: Definitions and Differences Explained

Having a firm understanding of SEO and CRO is necessary if you want to align them properly. Whether you’re a complete beginner or an experienced digital marketer, this section will quickly help you distinguish the key differences between SEO and CRO. 

What is SEO?

SEO is an acronym that stands for “search engine optimization.” It’s the process of creating and optimizing website content to meet the criteria of various search engine ranking factors. 

The goal of SEO is to increase your website’s SERP (search engine ranking position) for various keywords associated with your brand. The higher your site appears for a related keyword, the greater chance you have of getting organic clicks and more site traffic. 

Here’s a visual representation that helps convey how SEO works

Some common factors that influence SEO include:

  • Backlinks
  • Internal Links
  • Keywords
  • Site Structure
  • Navigation
  • Content
  • Authority
  • Page Loading Speed

As search engines constantly adjust ranking algorithms, SEO strategies must adapt accordingly. But ultimately, SEO is all about getting your content in front of the widest possible audience with the goal of increasing organic clicks and climbing the SERPs.

What is CRO?

Conversion rate optimization, or CRO, is the process of increasing the percentage of site visitors to perform a desired action on a page. 

To calculate your conversion rate, simply divide the total conversions on a page by the total number of visitors landing on that page. Then multiply that number by 100 to get your conversion rate as a percentage. 

If you have 1,500 site visitors and 65 conversions, you’d have a 4.33% conversion rate (65/1,500 x 100 = 4.33). 

Key factors that influence conversions and CRO include:

  • UX/UI Design
  • Mobile Optimization
  • Page Responsiveness
  • Loading Speed
  • Button Placement
  • CTA Copy
  • Personalization
  • Testing

Every website and every page on the site should have a different goal depending on where a visitor falls in the conversion funnel. For example, someone who lands on a blog post may not necessarily be ready to buy something just yet. So in this scenario, a site may want to use blog posts as a way to capture email addresses. 

Conversely, a visitor browsing through a pricing page or free consultation landing page is likely further down your funnel and more primed to buy. So completing a purchase or signing up for a free consultation would be the conversion goals in these situations. 

Why It’s So Important to Align SEO and CRO

On the surface, combining SEO and CRO can feel somewhat like a paradox or catch-22. CRO is irrelevant without SEO—but not all SEO strategies are good for conversions and some CRO strategies can harm SEO. 

Think of it like this.

By focusing on CRO, you could have the best landing pages on the planet that are perfect for driving conversions. But does it really matter if nobody is actually visiting your site?

Prioritizing SEO can get you 10,000 or 100,000 site visitors per month. But what if those visitors aren’t converting?

In short, traffic doesn’t automatically convert into dollars. At the end of the day, you need to look at your bottom line and see which digital marketing efforts are actually paying dividends and which ones are draining your budget without a return. 

Effective SEO and CRO alignment ensure that you’re driving the right type of traffic to your site, which increases the chances of getting conversions. 

While SEO and CRO may seem very different, there are still a few key commonalities between them.

Proven Tips and Strategies to Align SEO With CRO

Now that you understand the importance of aligning SEO with CRO, you can apply specific tactics to your website and digital marketing strategy. These tips below are the best place to start, and they’ll set you up for long-term success with your SEO and CRO efforts. 

Start With a Strong SEO Foundation

If you have a newer website with a low volume of site traffic, starting with SEO must be your top priority. SEO is a long-term game that doesn’t generate results overnight. So you need to set a strong foundation that will ultimately help scale your traffic in the coming years. 

Without organic search traffic, you’ll be forced to spend your digital marketing budget on paid clicks. While that may be fine for short-term traffic, it may not be a sustainable way to generate leads. 

So if you’re unsure how to spend your digital marketing budget, start with SEO.

Establish Clear Goals With Content Creation

Not all traffic is created equal. Once you understand this concept, you can create different types of content—each with unique goals for your SEO and CRO initiatives. 

For example, let’s say you have a personal injury law practice. 

Creating a guide on “what to do if you’re injured in a motorcycle accident” can be an effective way to target relevant keywords and drive highly targeted traffic to your site. The search intent here is directly related to your business, and it can help increase the chances of getting conversions from people reading this guide. 

However, it doesn’t mean that all of your content needs to follow this format. You may decide to create general blog posts that aren’t directly tied to your services with the goal of gaining backlinks for SEO purposes. 

Even if you have content that isn’t optimized for conversions, the potential backlinks and increased traffic can boost your overall domain authority and ultimately help your conversion-oriented content rank higher. 

Prioritize Macro Conversions

All too often, businesses waste valuable marketing dollars on conversions that don’t yield positive ROIs. While micro conversions (like newsletter signups or blog comments) can help move people through your funnel, they don’t always generate dollars. 

Instead, focus your SEO and CRO efforts on monetizable conversions. 

Let’s say you operate a B2B affiliate marketing blog. You review software products and get paid based on clicks or signups to the brands you’re reviewing. In this situation, it makes sense to highlight the affiliate products as early as possible in a blog post.

Here’s an example of this strategy from DPM:

When you land on this blog of the best project management software, the first thing you see is the brands in the review, along with clickable links to those sites. 

This is a macro-conversion strategy. It’s putting dollars ahead of other initiatives, like newsletter signups. 

But prioritizing macro conversions doesn’t mean you need to ignore SEO. For example, DPM includes a “What is Project Management Software?” section with a definition and explanation that’s great for SEO purposes. 

Here’s an excerpt from that same blog post:

You’ll see that including this information also helps the page rank in Google’s SERPs:

However, this section of the blog isn’t until the very bottom of the page—after all of the individual product reviews.

Why? Including this at the top of the page, say right below the introduction, isn’t as good for macro conversions. 

Use Data to Drive Decisions and Improve Strategic Testing

Data should guide both your SEO and CRO efforts.

First, look at the data related to the keywords and pages getting the most organic traffic. From there, you can look at the conversion rates of your highest-traffic pages. If conversions are low or could use improvement, start here with your CRO efforts. 

Depending on the pages getting traffic, you can also use data to identify where people are dropping in the conversion process. For example, one of your product pages might be getting a ton of organic traffic, but you’re losing people during the checkout.

In this situation, your CRO efforts can be used to shorten the checkout process and eliminate form fields or reduce the number of clicks needed to convert. 

From a strategy perspective, following this type of formula to determine which pages to run tests on makes more sense than just blindly selecting pages and modifying the design. 

Focus On Quality Content For Real People

You can’t lose sight of your audience when you’re implementing SEO and CRO tactics. Remember, the ultimate goal of SEO and CRO alignment is to get real people to click on organic search results and then convert when they land on your site.

This just won’t happen if your on-page copy is stuffed with keywords or illogical phrasing that’s geared toward search engines alone.

To help you succeed with this initiative, ask yourself the following questions whenever you’re producing SEO content or making CRO changes to your pages:

  • Does the page align with the user’s search intent?
  • Is the structure of the page optimized in a way that’s user-friendly?
  • Can a visitor quickly find what they’re looking for on the page?
  • Does the content add real value to qualified visitors?

If the answer isn’t yes to all of these questions, you’re doing something wrong and need to make changes to your approach. 

Final Thoughts

SEO brings people to your website, and CRO gets them to convert. But if SEO and CRO aren’t aligned, there’s a good chance they’re working against each other. 

Depending on your business type and goals, it’s ok to put more focus on one of these over the other. But regardless of the budget or resource allocation split, you still need to make sure SEO and CRO are logically balanced to work in unison towards the same common goals. 

I hope the tips and strategies outlined above make this easier for you. If you need help with SEO, CRO, or both, just reach out, and my team will be happy to assist.

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