According to Econsultancy, only 22% of businesses are satisfied with their conversion rates. That’s not much of a surprise, considering that for every $92 businesses spend acquiring customers, only $1 is spent on converting them.

A lot of marketers argue that conversion rates suffer because we prioritize SEO too much. Here’s the big difference between the two:

  • Conversion rate optimization (CRO): Making changes to your website so more visitors convert into customers
  • Search engine optimization (SEO): Making changes to your site to improve its rank in search results

But here’s the deal.

There’s no point in having great SEO if visitors don’t know what to do when they get to your site. And without SEO, those visitors might not find your site in the first place.

So conversion optimization and SEO both matter – a lot.

This post will help you make sure you have the right balance between SEO and conversion optimization on your site.

Target Keywords that Drive Conversions

The keywords you optimize for should focus on driving conversions if you’re going to get the most out of SEO and CRO together.

Take a look at what keywords are currently bringing traffic to your site in Google Analytics. Do those keywords just bring traffic, or do they drive conversions as well?

Informational Keywords

If you run a blog, you probably target a lot of informational keywords. People search for these keywords to find out more about a product, service, or industry, which can help them make a purchase decision.

Here are a couple of examples related to the digital marketing industry:

  • How to build backlinks
  • Ways to market to influencers

These kinds of keywords don’t drive conversions directly, but they lead to conversions if you have the right calls-to-action (CTAs) in place. So if you get a lot of traffic from informational keywords but no conversions, your CTAs are probably the problem. More on that below.

Commercial Keywords

Use commercial keywords to target people who are ready to buy a product. They imply commercial intent. For example:

  • Marketing software price
  • Web design discount
  • Purchase marketing automation tool

Try turning some of your other popular keywords into commercial intent keywords by adding key terms like these:

  • For sale
  • Coupon
  • Buy
  • Discount
  • Deal
  • Shipping

You might find that keywords with commercial intent don’t rank as well but draw much more traffic, like this example from Search Engine Watch:

Screen Shot 2016-10-13 at 10.56.47 AM

If you sell a product or service, be sure you’re investing some SEO effort in commercial keywords. These keywords are opportunities to improve conversions with the help of search traffic.

Have Lots of Landing Pages

Create different pages for each service or product category on your site. This will help you with SEO, because you can optimize each for very specific keywords.

For example, say you have an auto repair shop in Seattle. You could try to rank for “auto repair Seattle” on your homepage, then have pages for all your different services.

Screen Shot 2016-10-13 at 10.56.54 AM

With all these different pages, you can optimize for keywords like “buyers inspection Seattle” or “transmission repair Seattle,” which have a lot less competition.

Having a lot of landing pages can be great for conversion optimization as well. Use these pages as an opportunity to show visitors that you’re the best company for the job. Include your unique selling proposition, reviews or testimonials, and illustrative photos.

Give Your Traffic Clear Direction

A big mistake that many marketers make, especially with blog posts optimized for informational keywords, is not giving visitors enough direction to turn them into conversions. They have one CTA at the bottom of the page, and it looks the same for every post.

To get the most out of SEO and conversion optimization together, create content that seamlessly blends conversion opportunities. Backlinko is a site that’s really good at this strategy.

Brian has a prominent CTA above-the-fold to sign up for the email list, other resources that could help a visitor convert, and the irresistible “content upgrade”:

Screen Shot 2016-10-13 at 10.57.09 AM

Using your CTAs to give visitors direction on your site is also good for SEO.

Someone from search could come to your page, get the information they need, and bounce. But if you convince them to download a content upgrade or sign up for a newsletter, you improve your clickthrough rate – an important rank factor.

You should also make sure your CTAs are as relevant as possible to the pages they appear on. When optimizing your CTAs for conversions, I recommend following a method that HubSpot used – basing them on the search keywords that brought visitors to the page in the first place.

HubSpot figured out that 75% of their blog traffic went to old posts people were searching for. So they went back and changed the CTAs to match the search terms:

Screen Shot 2016-10-13 at 10.57.17 AM

The method helped them increase their blog’s conversion rates by 87%.

Improve User Experience

User experience (UX) is all about making your site easy for visitors to navigate and find the information they’re looking for. Having good UX on your site is really important for conversion optimization.

There are a few different areas to consider for UX:

Web design

Given 15 minutes to consume content, two-thirds of people would rather read something beautifully designed than something plain. So make sure your design is visually attractive to optimize conversions.

Content

You should also make sure all the content on your site loads and reads well – 39% of people will stop engaging with a website if images won’t load or take too long to load.

Site speed

If your site takes too long to load, many visitors will become impatient and just head back to wherever they came from. Want to learn how to improve your site speed? Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool:

Screen Shot 2016-10-13 at 10.57.26 AM

Device

Mobile devices now account for two of every three minutes spent online. Optimize your site to work well across devices to improve UX and conversions.

Navigation

After reaching a company’s website via a referral site, 50% of visitors will use the navigation menu to orient themselves. If your navigation isn’t easy to use, they might just leave.

Customer service

Forty-four percent of website visitors will leave a company’s website if there’s no contact information or phone number. So make it easy for visitors to find your email and phone number on every page.

And maybe you’ve guessed – search engines care about UX as well. If your site has a high bounce rate, that’s a sign your UX is poor, and your rank will suffer.  

Build Links with Content Marketing

Google recently revealed that links are one of the top three rank factors for search. So if you want your SEO efforts to work at all, link building is a must.

If you build links through content marketing, it will be great for your conversions as well.

Create content that’s informative and answers people’s questions about your niche or industry. Then promote it on social media and other platforms, and partner up with influencers to promote the content. This will help you build links.

And here’s why it’s good for conversions:

  • Building links with content marketing can bring in more traffic outside of search that you can convert.
  • Before making a purchase decision, 81% of shoppers research online.
  • Having lots of content gives you more opportunities to place relevant CTAs.

Develop buyer personas as part of your content marketing strategy. Then create content that really speaks to their feelings, interests, and needs. When you promote your content on social media, niche blogs, and industry forums, you can build links and attract your audience to your site.

Track and Test

The best way to know where you should be investing is by monitoring results.

Monitor your SEO and conversion optimization by paying attention to traffic changes and user flow on your site. This will help you visualize how your strategies are working together (or not) to achieve your goals.

Use Google Analytics to keep track of key information:

Traffic sources

Drill down to see where your traffic is really coming from (search, social media, referrals). Then you can gauge the importance of SEO in your conversion efforts.

Landing Pages

See what top pages on your site are drawing in visitors. Just go to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages.

Screen Shot 2016-10-13 at 10.57.48 AM

Use these pages as a benchmark to improve other content.

Exit Pages

Look at which pages people are most likely to exit from. This information is also found in Behavior > Site Content. How can you improve them to get conversions instead?

Conversion Reports

A more advanced tool you can use is Conversion Reports. You can find out where conversions originate on your site based on goal URLs, such as a thank you or confirmation page. Then, use the Goals Overview report to see what sources are driving your conversions.

Screen Shot 2016-10-13 at 10.57.57 AM

The tool also has advanced features, such as tracking the goal completion journey across your site.

Know any other advice to help optimize for SEO and conversions together? Tell me in the comments!

Ultimate SEO Guide

Andrew Raso
CEO & Co-Founder
Andrew is the CEO of OMG and one of the founding members. He has a long illustrious career in the SEO and SEM industry and has written for many prestigious websites, including entrepreneur.com, jeffbullas.com, searchenginejournal.com, kissmetrics.com and contentmarketinginstitute.com. He was also featured on Sky News Business and awarded the 30under30 award by Anthill.