The marketing world is so vast, it can seem pretty intimidating at times — and phrases such as search engine optimization (SEO) and conversion rate optimization (CRO) don’t really help with that. That said, both SEO and CRO are hugely important — arguably a requirement — to any successful brand’s digital marketing strategy.
Therefore, even just knowing the basics can help you win customers and grow your brand. As experts in all things digital and social, we’re here to break SEO and CRO down so you can get a sense of how your business could benefit from these marketing strategies.
What is SEO and Why is It Important?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of people that visit your website. An example would be if you are a Texas winemaker. If someone searches “Texas wines” on Google, you’d want your website to be the first thing they see and click on.
That is SEO. It has to do with understanding your true audience, what they’re searching for, and what kind of content you could provide that answers their intent (i.e. Texas wine products for Texas wine drinkers). However, it also has to do with the search engine itself, such as Google. Search engines will send out “crawlers” or “bots” to scan your website and determine if it’s a worthy answer to a user’s search query (i.e. it determines that you are a Texas wine producer; therefore, your website has a high chance of showing up in the search results of “Texas wines”).
SEO is one of the most cost-effective digital marketing strategies that businesses use to draw in crowds of relevant people. CRO, on the other hand, helps turn those visitors into paying customers.
What is CRO and Why is It Important?
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the marketing tactic that turns website visitors into loyal customers. CRO involves designing a user experience that nurtures leads and convinces them to buy your product or service.
Similar to SEO, CRO is not a single event or action. It’s the accumulation of multiple tweaks, changes and edits to how a user experiences your website and brand.
This has become especially pertinent in the smartphone era. The traditional sales funnel is no more. Customers in the 21st century can enter and exit your sales funnel at several different locations and for a variety of reasons. Industry research reveals that over 90% of consumers will visit your website for the first time just to look at it. They want to see that you’ve created a site they want to interact with in the future.
The Competitive Advantages to SEO and CRO
There are several proven benefits to SEO and CRO:
- Your competition likely isn’t focused on these efforts, allowing you to get ahead of the game. If they have already done so, then it’s time for you to catch up.
- SEO and CRO are long-term wins for your brand. A healthy combination of long-term and short-term wins are what we believe to be the sustainable success of a business.
- CRO allows you to better monetize all traffic, whether from SEO or inorganically through advertisement.
- SEO has the biggest return on investment out of any digital marketing strategy. Advertisements and other paid forms of placement may be necessary, but the traffic (and eventual revenue) brought on by SEO will bring your cost to acquire down and will top search results without any dollars behind it.
Getting Started with SEO and CRO: What to Do First
While you may be ready to jump in now, some prep work must be done first. This makes things much easier down the line as you start tweaking your website’s design and content. It all starts with data, data, data.
1. Get to Know Your True Audience by Reviewing Your Data
Data is important for a reason. It helps you uncover the “why” behind the users visiting and interacting with your brand.
There is a myriad of ways of doing so:
- One way is through your Google Analytics account to find out who is currently visiting your website. If you don’t have Google Analytics, that’s the first thing you need to do to start acquiring information about your current audience.
- You can also set up Google Search Console, which gives you some — keyword some — information about what organic search queries people are using to arrive at your site.
- Another is Your Website Search tool. These applications typically have reports that tell you what people are searching for once they click on your site. Use it to gain a broader understanding of your user and use it to answer questions and solve their problem.
- Customer surveys also contain a treasure trove of direct information from your customers.
- Ask your customer service or sales reps for commonly asked questions you’re getting that you could then address and add to your site.
- The use of buyer personas greatly benefits you as well. We could write several blogs on the importance of buyer personas, but essentially they are grouping your customers by their common attributes and needs.
So, what’s the point on all of this? By gathering data and truly looking at it from a number of different perspectives, you can get to know your audience like never before and then begin to build a better solution for them with the use of CRO and SEO.
2. Understand the Primary Focus of Your Website
Every business needs goals, and their website is no exception. Your website should have ONE main focus (or action you want users to take) that falls in line with your overall business goals.
Here are a few examples of different goals a website has:
- That Texas wine producer we mentioned earlier wants visitors to buy their wine, which may include joining their wine club.
- A nonprofit wants users to donate to their cause.
- A software company wants users to download their product.
- A services company wants users to fill out a form to contact them so they can render their services.
Whatever your goal may be, that’s what drives virtually everything on your site, from the content you create to the layout of a page.
What About a Secondary Goal?
It’s perfectly fine to have a secondary action. However, don’t let those distract users from your one true goal. Let’s go back to our winemaker example:
- The winemaker’s goal is to obviously sell more of their wine.
- An example of a secondary goal might be getting a user to sign up for your email newsletter or follow you on Instagram.
- That’s a great secondary goal because it allows you to nurture that relationship by engaging with your customer.
- Eventually, they may want to buy even more wine through a sale from your newsletter or social giveaway.
3. Get Your Keywords Ready
A part of the preparation phase is determining your keywords. These are words or phrases that users search type into the search bar so they can find the answer or solution to their problem or interest. This is what’s called a query. A keyword or search query can be one word like “wine” but it can also be a long phrase like “Texas wine made with organic grapes.”
You’ll want to develop an initial list of 25 to 40 keywords to get started. These are the most relevant search terms for your business. If you are a chiropractor, then you’ll want to focus on queries that relate to chiropractic AND possibly your location, such as Texas.
There have been literal books written on this stuff, but a good place to start is to:
- Use your current data. Remember that Search Console tool we mentioned above? This can help you jumpstart your list. Find out what keywords are currently driving traffic to your site.
- Use other keywords tools. After you find what keywords are currently bringing traffic in, it’s time to find new opportunities. There are many free tools out there, such as Ahrefs, Google Keyword Planner and WordTracker that can show you where you could improve.
- Dig deep for golden nuggets. Find keywords that a lot of people are searching for and are relatively easy to rank for (this is also called keyword difficulty). Those reports should tell you how easy (or difficult) it will be to rank highly for those search terms.
- Make sure they are relevant. Remember these must align with your website’s main goal. Going after fringe or unrelated keywords just for the sake of traffic is wasting your time and will only drive down your conversion rate.
Next Steps in Your Digital Marketing Journey
Now that you’ve adequately prepared, it’s time to act. We recommend re-examining your value proposition, the thing that makes your business unique against your competitors. This is perhaps the most important thing you can do and could have the biggest impact on conversion.
Now, how to do that? Stay tuned for our next blog post in this expanded series on SEO and CRO — or watch the original webinar below!