Your website won’t perform at its fullest potential unless you optimize it. Optimization allows you to improve your website so that it helps you achieve your goals. While there are several optimization strategies available, however, none are more effective than search engine optimization (SEO) and conversion rate optimization (CRO). What’s the difference between SEO and CRO exactly, and which optimization strategy should you deploy?
What Is SEO?
SEO is an optimization strategy that centers around increasing your website’s organic search rankings. Search engines return pages in response to search queries. Known as search engine results pages (SERPs), they contain organic listings and paid ads. SEO includes processes that encourage higher rankings for your website’s organic listings.
There are onsite and offsite SEO processes. Onsite SEO processes are performed on your website, whereas offsite SEO processes are performed elsewhere. Publishing engaging and high-quality content on your website is an onsite SEO process. If your website has content that visitors want to consume, search engines will award it with higher organic search rankings.
Other onsite SEO processes include making your website load faster, creating optimized meta tags for pages, using descriptive permalinks or URL slugs, creating internal links, adding alt text descriptions to images and using structured data markup.
Offsite SEO processes are limited primarily to building brand mentions and backlinks. A brand mention is any text mention of your website’s unique brand name. A backlink is a link from another website that directs users to a page on your site. Of those two offsite SEO processes, building backlinks is the most valuable. Backlinks are a digital vote of confidence. They indicate that another website trusts your site enough to send it some of its own traffic.
What Is CRO?
CRO is an optimization strategy aimed at increasing your website’s conversion rate. Whether your website generates revenue from product sales, affiliate commissions, membership signups or lead acquisition, it has a conversion rate.
Your website’s conversion rate is the percentage of its visitors who perform the desired revenue-generating action. If your website brought in 2,000 visitors last month, 200 of whom made a purchase, its conversion rate for that month would be 10 percent. CRO includes processes that encourage visitors to perform the desired revenue-generating action, thereby increasing your website’s conversion rate.
Unlike SEO, CRO consists entirely of onsite processes. You might be able to increase your website’s conversion rate by changing its call to action (CTA). Changing the CTA’s size, color, message or placement could encourage more visitors to click it.
Displaying customer reviews or testimonials on your website can increase its conversion rate as well. Visitors are often hesitant to perform revenue-generating actions, such as making a purchase or even completing an online form, because they fear websites won’t follow through with their promises. When they see a positive message from a previous customer, they’ll feel more comfortable performing the revenue-generating action.
Some SEO and CRO processes overlap. Making your website load faster, for instance, may have a positive impact on both its organic search rankings and conversion rate. When your website loads fast, fewer visitors will leave prematurely.
Benefits of SEO
By investing your time and resources into SEO, your website will generate more traffic by reaching more visitors. Higher organic search rankings almost always translates into increased traffic. Most search engine users don’t scroll through the multiple pages of the SERPs. A report by HubSpot found that three in four users click listings on the first page. Without SEO, your website may rank well beyond the first page, where it’s rarely seen by search engine users.
A properly planned and executed SEO strategy can easily rank your website on the first page of the SERPs. More users will find, and therefore visit, your website. As it climbs higher up the first page, in fact, it will attract even more visitors. High organic search rankings are only possible if you use SEO.
Although there are other ways to increase your website’s traffic, SEO is among the most cost-effective. Paid advertising can work wonders for increasing traffic, but it comes at a burdensome monetary cost. If you use Google Ads, you may have to pay $1 or more per each new visitor. You may incur some basic expenses with SEO, but you won’t have to pay for the traffic it brings.
Benefits of CRO
While SEO can increase your website’s traffic, CRO allows you to capitalize on its traffic. Your website may attract thousands of visitors per month, but if none of them perform the revenue-generating action, the traffic is pretty much useless.
With CRO, your website will make more money from its traffic. More visitors will complete the revenue-generation action. As its conversion rate increases, so will your website’s revenue. CRO is an invaluable optimization strategy for all money-making commercial websites. If your website’s primary goal is to generate revenue, you can’t ignore CRO as an optimization strategy.
You can use CRO to create a better experience for your website’s visitors. A low conversion rate indicates an unsatisfactory user experience. If a visitor doesn’t enjoy using your website, he or she won’t click the CTA or otherwise perform the revenue-generating action. When your website has a high conversion rate, on the other hand, it’s typically a sign visitors enjoy using it. As a result, CRO doesn’t just lead to more revenue; it creates a better experience for visitors.
Why You Should Combine SEO with CRO
Rather than only using SEO or CRO, you should use them both. SEO and CRO work synergistically together to maximize your website’s performance. You can use SEO to increase your website’s traffic without spending a fortune on paid ads, and you can use CRO to turn the traffic into revenue.
Website optimization is a two-sided coin. One side consists of SEO, whereas the other side consists of CRO. The former optimization strategy brings visitors to your website. The latter optimization strategy turns generates revenue from its traffic. When combined, SEO and CRO will guide your website down a prosperous path for success.