The world of internet marketing, search engine optimisation and sales is littered with jargon, rules and “best practices”. When we get mired in these expectations we might miss out on our ACTUAL goal of producing revenue and get stuck in the dreary world of digital beaurocracy.
This means you need to know what success for you means. It’s different for each business & industry.
That’s why the field of conversion rate optimisation is so vital to making SEO worthwhile.
What does CRO mean? What do you need to know about it? How do you do it? These and many more questions are answered in this ultimate guide to conversion rate optimization and SEO.
What is conversion rate optimisation and should you care?
The aim of search engine optimisation is to get visitors to your site but what happens then? A conversion occurs when a visitor to your website takes an action that you want them to take. If there is no option to take an action, you cannot achieve a conversion. The action needs to suit the purpose of your business or enterprise and you get a benefit from it. Some examples are:
- Signing up for a newsletter
- Signing up for a course
- Downloading an app
- Making a purchase
This is the outcome that you can measure. It only has two options. They either do it or they don’t.
When you optimise your conversion rate you take steps to make that action more likely to happen. However, it is not always easy to work out how to do that. It is likely to require a structured and systematic approach to the process.
You are also likely to need to improve the performance of your website and this can mean re-examining all of your IT set-up and accessing appropriate IT support for business. A successful website has to be underpinned by efficient IT support that will identify potential problems before they even happen in your organisation.
This puts you in the best position to use your analytics and feedback to improve your conversion rates. It is important that your conversion goals are defined by your enterprise’s unique objectives and needs.
Attracting more traffic to your site may be part of your overall marketing strategy but taking the traffic you already have and making the most of it is what conversion rates are all about.
If you are serious about improving your conversion rate optimization you will not rely on guesswork and gut feelings. It will be based on data and innovation.
The Jargon you need to know
A Call to Action (CTA) is nothing to do with the military. It is an element that invites the visitor to do something. If they pop onto your site, read your content and then disappear then they have not been of much use to you. You need to get the most out of every visitor. At the very least, you want them to share your content so a call to action would be text saying ‘Please share’ or ‘Sharing is caring’ and a button that they can use to quickly and easily share a link to your content on social media.
Other versions would be a ‘Buy Now’ button which takes them to your sales page or a ‘Sign Up’ button taking them to a form where they can enter their email details.
You may have read about conversion funnels in marketing articles. This refers to the pathway that a user takes as they travel from being a visitor to your site (the start of the funnel) to becoming a paying customer (the end of the funnel). The purchase that they make is the conversion. A typical description of a conversion funnel would be Home page > search results page > product page > checkout.
If your SEO is working, you will be getting a lot of visitors to your site but the best way of getting them into your conversion funnel is not always easy to determine. You could use a method that is referred to as A/B or split testing. You try out two versions of your conversion funnel methods to see which works best. This could be different coloured buttons, different calls to action or different images.
Data and conversion rates
There is inevitably some math associated with this process but it is not complicated. You can collect all the data you need by setting up Google Analytics which only takes a few minutes and there are plenty of tutorials to teach you how to use it effectively.
To calculate your conversion rate all you have to do is divide the number of conversions (the number who purchased/subscribed/signed up) by the total number of visitors to your site.
However, that is not the whole picture. You need to establish how your SEO is influencing what people are doing on your site. Is it bringing in visitors who want to be there? Do they like what they see when they get there? Are they staying for a while or they clicking off you site immediately? The figures that you gain from your analysis can inform your SEO strategy going forward.
There are a few key parameters that you need to measure. The first is the bounce rate. This is the percentage of people who leave your site after viewing just one page (the one they landed on). If your bounce rate is high, this is a problem. Perhaps the visitors are not finding what they are looking for or don’t like what they find. You need to rethink your SEO strategy so that you can attract a different type of visitor.
It is also important to be aware of your exit rate for each page on your site. This is the percentage of people who leave after viewing that page. Therefore, if a page has a very high exit rate it may be an indication that it needs some work!
You can learn a lot from the data on how much time visitors spend on your site. This tells you if they are actually reading your content or if they are leaving very quickly. The more time they spend, the more opportunity you have to get them to convert.
It is useful to take a look at the average page views which is one of the engagement metrics that you can use to inform your SEO strategy. It tells you how many pages the average visitor looked at before they left. More page views can mean more engagement and that is good. It means that they are clicking on internal links and entering the conversion funnel. However, you need to be mindful that it can also mean that there is a lack of clarity and direction on your site so they are clicking all over the place because they don’t know how to make a purchase. This is obviously a bad thing!
Why is conversion rate optimisation important?
Firstly, there is never any reason to be complacent. You can never sit back and think that your SEO and CRO are working perfectly because your competitors will not be doing that! You need to keep things under review. You need to constantly look for new ideas and innovations in your SEO strategy and in making the conversion process as easy as you can.
Another reason is to do with money. If you are relying on paid advertising, this is going to get more expensive and more competitive as the web becomes more and more crowded. Spending more and more money to attract more and more visitors is not the answer. You need to do extra with the visitors that you get. You must identify and sort out glitches in your conversion funnel so that the process is seamless.
SEO is not about getting any kind of visitor, it is about getting the right kind of visitor. In the same way, CRO is also about getting the ‘right’ kind of converters. Ideally, you want customers who love your product, come back and buy more and tell everyone how amazing you are!
On the plus side, CRO does not cost you anything. It dovetails with your SEO strategy and makes the most of the traffic that you already have. It increases the return on your SEO investment and is a highly cost-effective strategy. If you look at the math of the situation, a great CRO strategy lowers your customer acquisition costs and this maximizes your profits.
The end result is that you have more money to spend on additional acquisition strategies. Only now, they can be highly targeted at the visitors that you know are most likely to convert.
Ultimately, this has the knock-on effect of making you more attractive to affiliates and partners and this is essential to bloggers for whom this is their main income stream. You will earn more and your affiliates will earn more and so everyone is happy.
CRO gives you the edge over your competitors. Your visitors are more likely to find what they are looking for on your site and are therefore less likely to go hunting for it elsewhere.
So, it is not hard to make your SEO work with your CRO to give your business the best chance of success. Make your call to action clear, your conversion funnel seamless and protect your visitor’s security and you will have a winning formula.