Ben Silverman

Only 2 percent of businesses report being “very satisfied” with their conversion rates and 77 percent of businesses are neutral or dissatisfied. SEO is the strategy for driving traffic to your site, but conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the end goal. A good website will likely have a healthy SEO, and a great website experience will lead to a high CRO.

Search engine visibility and conversion rates are optimized by focusing on different features, but the fundamentals of managing them are often compatible. Do you think the following are features of good SEO, or of CRO?

  • Headlines that give a clear message.
  • Good site hierarchy and organization.
  • Simple, clear, powerful layout on your home page.
  • Freshly updated, timely, relevant content.

If you guessed SEO, you’re right. If you guessed CRO, you’re also right. Many of the elements of both website optimization processes overlap. The bad news is that optimizing your website’s conversion rate is a full-time job. The good news is that as an SEO, you already are halfway there.

Check your site

Here’s our checklist for determining how well your site is optimized for conversions.

How is your site’s navigation?

If your site has illogical or confusing navigation tools, you may be losing out on potential converters. When an audience isn’t able to easily access the point of sale, a newsletter sign up or asset download, the interested, qualified traffic turns into bounces.

Analyze where people are leaving your site to determine the weakest link in the chain. A disproportionately high bounce rate at a certain point on the journey through your site might mean a “leak” in the learning or buying process. How many steps does it take for an audience to convert?

Which CTAs are most effective?

Changing the size, copy and graphics can help to revive poorly performing CTAs. Experiment with which page each CTA is hosted on as well as where it is positioned.

How fast does your site load?

According to a site speed study conducted by Microsoft, a delay of 250 milliseconds is all it takes to convince people to visit a site less often. Besides losing traffic from their initial click to your site, a slow speed can make it harder for them to reach the point of conversion on your site.

A site that takes two minutes to reach a CTA, signup field or other conversion is considerably  less effective than a site than only takes one minute to move the viewer from start to conversion. Even after you’ve cleared up your site’s organization, low speed can make your site just as clunky and slow as poor navigation organization.

How long might it take someone to see CTAs on your site? What’s the average amount of time users wait on your page? How many people are lost before even seeing your assets for conversion?

How mobile friendly is it?

As mobile internet use continues to eclipse desktop use, design optimized for mobile helps to display your content to the widest possible audience. Are your site’s content and assets responsively designed?

What are your customers’ biggest objections?

Put yourself in the shoes of a viewer on your site. What are their problems and hesitations in navigating your site? Where are they lost, confused or frustrated? How does their experience differ if they’re a first time visitor or a repeat user?

What do you want to accomplish with your site?

What may seem like an easy question can actually be hard for many marketers to explain. If you have a clear, unique explanation for your site’s (and brand’s) function, you can begin to diagnose what happens in your readers’ minds as they browse your content.

Improve your site to meet your fans’ expectations

Your job as an SEO and CRO specialist is to figure out your audience’s problems, fears and expectations from your site. Now that you’ve completed our checklist and evaluated your site, you can begin to make changes to optimize for conversions.

Interview your audience

Asking your target audience directly is a great way to hear an honest, specific answer. Custom interviews for specific segments of your readership via email, phone and focus groups are common ways of getting quality answers, as are online surveys.

Plug the leak

Once you’ve pinpointed where you’re losing traffic, where your audience becomes uninterested, or where they get lost or confused, your next step is to plug the leak.

Do you see a sudden drop-off on a certain page? Perhaps the page:

  • Doesn’t match the link that users accessed it from.
  • Fails to meet their expectations, or is intended for a different group of readers.
  • Loads too slowly.
  • Is misleading.
  • Features too much, or too little, content.

Is an eBook downloaded by hundreds of readers on one page, but untouched on another? Are your assets at the top of a page being clicked while the ones at the bottom are unnoticed? Examining the glaring highs and lows of viewership and clicks on each page will help to provide insight on what parts of your website might be lacking.

Add testimonials and social add-ons

The more “proof” you include on your site, the better. Seeing unique reviews from satisfied users can instill trust in a brand, especially when they are current, or live-updating through social plug-ins. When readers are more comfortable with your brand, they are more likely to follow through on their journey and convert.

Test scientifically, and try seeing your site from the audience’s perspective

Be creative with how and what you test, but stay organized, patient and scientific. When testing and analyzing your website’s data, use separate experiments for every variable rather than just testing multiple factors and hypotheses at once. Design A/B experiments, use a control group and draw from the largest sample size possible.

Additionally, take advantage of third-party products to test the usability of your site. You might be so used to its flow and structure that you naturally see past its flaws. All brands need a fresh set of eyes to examine their sites’ usability.

Keep your pages simple

Focus on a single topic on each page. Consider a user’s intent when making a search query. Chances are they’re looking for an answer to a question or resolution to a problem. If your site quickly, efficiently and clearly educates or provides a solution, you most likely will observe SEO boosts. You’ll also observe conversion rate boosts because your page can solve a problem for the reader the better:

  • The more visible it will be to them.
  • The more fluidly they can move through the sales funnel.
  • The more satisfied they are with your product.
  • The more they’ll want to know more about your services.

Use proper page structure and headline tags

Not only do good heading tags and hierarchy help SEO, and help readers find what they need to convert, they help you organize your content and design your page with the readers’ experience in mind. Your content’s message progression will be better structured and more logically presented.


Search engine optimization and conversion rate optimization can work together, as they share many of the same foundations. Your job as a marketer is to boost your SEO to increase traffic, but without dropping conversions below your optimal level. A site needs visitors, but you want qualified traffic, and more importantly you want those qualified visitors to convert. A solid CRO strategy can save resources that would have been allocated for SEO and PPC, without wasting time and money on uninterested readers. When you mix your SEO strategy with CRO, you aim for traffic to lead to conversions and sales rather than bringing in traffic for the sake of traffic.