What is CRO, and How it is Essential to SEO

Subscriber and copywriter David Kimbell asked: “I’d love to hear your thoughts on CRO and list-building.” For the sake of brevity, I’ll come back to list-building.

To answer what is CRO? CRO, or conversion rate optimization, is an area that I don’t cover as much as I cover SEO. It’s likely because of how much the two work well together. They’re independent, but also inter-dependent. For example:

  • SEO’s goal is to attract more and better users to your website.
  • CRO’s goal is to convert those more users into leads/clients.

Improve your SEO and you improve your CRO at the same time. It’s easier to convert audiences who are more qualified from the start. That’s because the higher the quality of visitors are, the higher the conversions will be. By driving more of the right audiences to your site, you will drive more actions, too.

Trying to optimize your conversion rate when you’re dealing with the wrong audience is futile. By attracting ideal users first, CRO’s job becomes easier. But there converse is also true. For the more users you convert, the more users you will attract, too. Let me explain.

First, it’s easier to convert audiences who are more qualified from the start. That’s because CRO’s priority is to ensure you attract the right audience. The higher the quality of visitors are, the higher the conversions will be.

Trying to optimize your conversion rate when you’re dealing with the wrong audience is futile. By attracting ideal users first, CRO’s job becomes easier.

Second, the more people you convert, the greater the chances that Google will rank you higher and send you better traffic. Conversion rates are not ranking factors but Google has said they pay attention to related indicators, such as CTRs (clickthrough rates), dwell times, pogosticking, etc.

Does CRO Influence Rankings?

Maybe. It’s fair to say that CRO does because a higher conversion rate implies better content, a better user experience, and a lower bounce rate. These signals tell Google that your website is a relevant result to the users’ search query. So by focusing on SEO, you are also contributing to CRO.

But if you want some hacks (apparently, CRO hacks is trendy these days), here are a few high-level, user-centric CRO tactics:

  1. Know your users better;
  2. Improve your messaging;
  3. Improve the user experience;
  4. Experiment and test.

First, knowing your audience is critical. With SEO, your content should match search intent. With CRO, it should match user intent. It should not only be relevant content but also valuable content, too. The greater the value is, the higher the chances people will engage with your content and your site will be.

What’s going on in the minds and lives of your users will dictate their behaviour. So getting to know your market will help you in getting to know what they want, why they want it, and how they want it. Marketing guru Dan Kennedy calls this “message-to-market match.”

You can’t match your message if you don’t know your audience. Often, when I try to come up with a message that best fits the audience, I try to forget the content and focus on what the users are thinking, feeling, hurting, confused about, frustrated with, and so on the moment they hit the website.

If I’m stuck, maybe I don’t know my market enough, I didn’t dig deep enough, or I didn’t do enough research. Because I often find that the more I know about my audience, the easier it is to find the ideal message that will a) attract them to my site and b) convert them once there.

To Boost SEO and CRO, Think UXO

Next, you want the experience to be as smooth as possible.

Gary Halbert, a copywriting legend, often said that your copy has to read like a greased chute. This applies to the user experience, too. From headline to order form, the process needs to be smooth, uninterrupted, even encouraged.

Anything that helps to make the experience smoother will always improve conversions. Sometimes, it’s easier to improve the user experience (UX) by identifying and removing any snags that are hurting your conversion rates than it is by adding stuff in order to boost them.

You want to remove “speed bumps” from that greased slide, if you will.

  • Does the page load fast enough?
  • Is the font size big and easy to read?
  • Is there enough text-to-background contrast?
  • Are there any gravity elements driving the eyes?
  • Are calls-to-action obvious and easy to find?
  • Is the order form long and clunky, or short?

User experience is an important part of SEO, and in 2021 it will also become a ranking factor according to Google. By improving an optimizing the user experience, or UXO, you improve both SEO and CRO, directly and indirectly.

CRO is About Split-Testing, Too

A core CRO practice is split-testing. It’s also one of the most underutilized, too. I understand it can be overwhelming. Some nerdy marketers I know conduct hundreds of multivariate experiments with complex statistical analyses. But you don’t have to. You can simply start with simple A/B split-tests.

Just compare one version against another and pick the winner. Test different headlines, forms, colours, images, offers, prices, proof elements, etc. There are plenty of things you can test and plenty of variations of each, too.

The idea is to start. Test. One minor change could cause a major bump in your conversion rate. And with free CRO tools like Google Optimize, you can conduct experiments on a multitude of page elements easily.


Here’s another reason SEO and CRO work well together.

It may actually be the reason.

I’ve always said that SEO comes down to two elements: the quality of your content and the quality of the user experience. CRO is no different in that you can optimize your conversion rate by honing in on and experimenting with either of these: the content and the UX.

So offer great content and great user experience, and you create a domino effect: you drive better traffic, which leads to better clients, which leads to better traffic, which leads to better clients, and so on.

About The Author

Avatar of Michel Fortin
Michel Fortin is a certified SEO consultant, content strategist, and marketing advisor helping plastic surgeons, cosmetic surgeons, and medical aesthetic clinics attract more patients. Since 1991, he helps cosmetic and aesthetic professionals increase their visibility and grow their practices. He is the author of the More Traffic Memo™ SEO email newsletter.

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