A CMO’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) in 5 Minutes or Less

Checkered flag for user conversion on a website.

SEO without CRO is like running a race but never crossing the finish line. Sure, you have traffic, but are they converting into leads and revenue?

The ultimate goal of a successful digital marketing program is sales. It starts with driving traffic through many digital channels, like organic search, and ends with more revenue. If you’re a CMO interested in conversion rate optimization, keep reading.

In this post:

What Is a Conversion?

A conversion is when a visitor to a website completes a desired action that either brings them closer to a sale or to an actual sale. Micro conversions include small steps, like downloading an ebook, while macro conversions create revenue, like purchasing a product.

Examples of a micro conversion:

  • Sign up for an email list
  • Download a content asset
  • View a video

Examples of a macro conversion:

  • Request a service quote
  • Buy a service or product
  • Subscribe to a service

In the SEO world, we want to know what conversions happened as a result of the organic search channel. This could be newsletter sign-ups, revenue from sales, or others. Whatever the desired action, SEOs need to quantify how much the organic search channel contributed.

By the way, according to BrightEdge research, the average share of revenue from the organic channel is now more than 50% for B2Bs and tech companies and 36% to 41% for others.

Research on organic share of revenue.

No matter how much companies invest in building websites, no matter how many engineers they hire, no matter how much money they invest in driving visitors to the website … if visitors do not convert, none of that matters.

–Khalid Saleh, CEO of Invesp and Bruce Clay Inc. CRO partner

What Is a Conversion Rate?

Conversion rate is the percentage of website visitors that have completed the desired action out of the total number of visitors.

To calculate a conversion rate, take the total number of conversions divided by total website visitors. So, say you had 100 visitors, and 10 of them bought a pair of jeans. You’d calculate the conversion rate as 10 / 100 = 0.10, or 10%.

A good conversion rate varies based on the type of marketing channel and industry. My sources at Invesp shared data that shows the following conversion rates on average per marketing channel for enterprise ecommerce sites:

  • Paid ads, branded: 7%
  • Email: 6%
  • Organic: 3.8%
  • Paid ads, generic: 1.5%
  • Social: 0.8%

What Is Conversion Rate Optimization & How Does CRO Relate to SEO?

Conversion rate optimization, or CRO, is the practice of optimizing websites so that more visitors convert.

SEO and CRO have a symbiotic and cyclical relationship. Conversion optimization can help SEOs:

  • Maximize the opportunity for traffic
  • Get insights about how webpages are performing from search
  • Create trust among an audience, a key criterion in Google’s E-E-A-T
  • Improve rankings

Wait, did I just say CRO can actually improve search rankings? Let me explain. When you drive organic traffic to a webpage that does not offer a good user experience, your chances of converting those visitors are slim to none. What you do have is a good chance of their leaving your site rather quickly.

This high bounce rate, in turn, may cause search rankings to suffer, thanks in part to Google’s RankBrain. RankBrain applies machine learning to determine the best search results based on a variety of factors.

And clicks to a webpage along with engagement on that page, could, over time, impact rankings. The question Google is trying to solve is: If no one is clicking on a result or not many people are staying on the site, is it a good search result worthy of top rankings?

So SEOs are concerned with driving clicks and keeping people on a webpage, too. That’s where having a whole-SERP SEO strategy to get more visibility in the results (more chances for clicks) or optimizing meta tags for a better click-through rate can help.

How to Get Started with CRO

A good place to get started with CRO is by looking at your most important or high-performing pages. Which pages drive the most traffic? Which pages are key to conversions?

Then you’re going to dive into a four-step process that you can read more about in our conversion rate optimization tutorial.

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FAQ: How can I enhance my digital marketing sales using SEO and CRO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) work in tandem to improve digital marketing sales.

The SEO Foundation

To enhance your digital marketing sales, starting with a strong SEO foundation is essential. SEO ensures that your website ranks higher on search engine results pages (SERPs), driving organic traffic. This means optimizing your website’s content metatags, ensuring mobile-friendliness, improving visibility, and attracting a more targeted audience.

The CRO Edge

Once you’ve laid the SEO groundwork, it’s time to leverage Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). CRO optimizes your website’s design and user experience to convert that organic traffic into paying customers. A/B testing, compelling CTAs, and intuitive navigation are just a few CRO techniques that can significantly boost your conversion rates.

The Synergy Unleashed

The real magic happens when you combine SEO and CRO strategies. You can maximize your conversion potential by driving more relevant traffic to your site through SEO and then fine-tuning the user experience with CRO. For instance, understanding the keywords that lead to high conversion rates allows you to tailor your content and design accordingly.

Measuring Success

To continuously enhance your digital marketing sales, you need to monitor and analyze the results of your efforts. Tools like Google Analytics help track traffic, user behavior, and conversion rates. Regularly review these metrics and adjust your strategies to ensure you’re staying on the path to success.

Staying Ahead

Staying updated with the latest SEO and CRO trends is crucial. SEO algorithms change, and user preferences shift, so a proactive approach to adapting your strategies is key to long-term success.

By integrating SEO and CRO effectively, you can enhance your digital marketing sales and establish a strong online presence that resonates with your target audience, ultimately leading to sustainable growth.

Step-by-Step Procedure: Enhancing Digital Marketing Sales with SEO and CRO

  1. Begin with a comprehensive SEO audit of your website to identify areas for improvement.
  2. Research and select relevant keywords that align with your business goals and audience.
  3. Optimize your website’s on-page elements, including meta titles, descriptions, headers, and image alt text.
  4. Ensure your website is mobile-responsive for an improved user experience.
  5. Create high-quality, engaging content that incorporates your chosen keywords naturally.
  6. Utilize social media, email marketing, and other online channels to spread your content.
  7. Google Analytics and Search Console can help you monitor your website’s performance.
  8. Implement A/B testing to identify and refine key elements of your website that impact conversion rates.
  9. Focus on creating compelling calls to action (CTAs) that guide users toward desired actions.
  10. Simplify website navigation to enhance user experience and reduce bounce rates.
  11. Use heatmaps and user behavior analysis tools to gain insights into how visitors interact with your website.
  12. Continuously test and refine your website design and content to improve conversion rates.
  13. Combine SEO data with CRO insights to optimize content and design for higher conversions.
  14. Regularly track and measure key performance indicators (KPIs) such as traffic, bounce rate, and conversion rates.
  15. Analyze user feedback and adjust your strategies accordingly.
  16. Stay up-to-date with SEO algorithm changes and industry best practices.
  17. Adapt your SEO and CRO strategies to reflect evolving user preferences and trends.
  18. Keep refining your content and design based on ongoing data analysis.
  19. Collaborate with digital marketing experts or agencies for additional guidance and support.
  20. Stay committed to a continuous improvement mindset for sustained digital marketing success.

By following these steps, you can effectively enhance your digital marketing sales using the synergy of SEO and CRO.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the BruceClay.com website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

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5 Replies to “A CMO’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) in 5 Minutes or Less”

We have learned a lot over the years about conversion ratio optimization. Page load time, content, and proper image placement and good calls to action we’ve found to make a positive difference. Having an amazing moving service is one thing but connecting new prospects to this service requires some work and getting the most out of it via optimization is key. It’s all about getting attention but conversion ratio is taking that attention and getting the best ROI therein. Thanks for the great article, keep them coming!

You have very logically explained how conversion rate optimization can have a positive impact on search rankings as well. Having a good user experience can increase leads and also improve rankings.

Search Engine Optimization play an important role to increase your CRO.

I need good conversion rate for my Income Tax business website. This should help me with my local SEO.

Owner CEL Financial Services
IRS Registered Tax Preparer
Registered bonded California CTEC Tax Preparer

Your Dummies book took me from dunse to doyen in just over a week, or perpahs that’s a little pompous of me. On SEO you are great. What you’re touching on here is marketing because converting is all about combining content with meaning and quality with a vistors preconceptions, which vary with people and markets. A lightweight be profound (and old) book covers this nicely – Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind Ries/Trout. It is not the whole story – site needs to give not just take. I like the work you do. Haven’t used your principles on my site – not a good example – going to be working on it.


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