SEO and Conversions: Two Halves of a Pie

Two pie halves on crumpled paper.

So, you’ve invested time and resources into SEO and got more targeted traffic. Without converting that traffic, what do you have to show for your hard work and investment?

You want to ensure your website is set up to maximize the value of your organic traffic. And that starts with optimizing for conversions.

In fact, SEO and conversion are two halves of a pie: SEO drives traffic to your site. Conversion optimization helps move those website visitors to action. Let’s look closer at why conversion optimization is an important part of your internet marketing program.

In this article:

What Is a Conversion?

A conversion is when a website visitor completes a desired action that either brings them closer to a sale or to an actual sale. A conversion can be any action that moves a visitor further down the conversion funnel.

Some examples include:

  • A phone call
  • Filling out a form
  • Clicking on a link
  • Downloading a content asset
  • Watching a video
  • Buying a service or product
  • Subscribing to a service

What Is Conversion Rate Optimization and Why Does It Matter to SEO?

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a strategy to increase the percentage of website visitors that take a desired action. CRO does this by making variable changes to a webpage. The outcome? Make it perform better and ultimately boost your bottom line.

Conversion optimization is important for any website owner for at least these three reasons:

  1. Potential customers are leaving you. The average website conversion is between 2% and 5% depending on the industry and device type. According to Statista, for instance, e-commerce websites in 2020 saw only 2.06% conversion rate. That means on average, about 98% of people who visit an e-commerce site leave without making a conversion.
  2. You’re losing money. By optimizing and retesting the same webpage in iterations, you can improve performance. That means claiming more of the money that you lose every time a visitor bounces. Each time you make an improvement to a page, that improvement continues to perform even after the test is complete.
  3. Your competitors are already testing. Top companies participate in some form of conversion testing. For instance, Google ran more than 600,000 tests to improve Search in 2020 alone. Chances are, you have already been a participant in one of these tests without knowing it.

CRO can be the critical next step in getting the most value from your SEO traffic.

Remember: The most important metric to measure SEO success is traffic. Conversions are typically out of the scope of an SEO program and in the hands of the website publisher.

Of course, website publishers can get expert advice on how to maximize conversions and then put in place those recommendations. But it is up to you to make those changes on your site.

3 Steps to Get Started with Conversion Optimization

Get Executive Buy-In

Getting executive buy-in can be a challenge – mostly in smaller businesses. In small businesses, it’s not uncommon for the president of the company to play a big role in the website.

This gives them a “parent” complex, where they view the site as their child, and directives are often subjective. This contrasts what the website should actually be treated as: a salesperson.

The best way to counterbalance the parent mentality is through evidence and facts. Be prepared when you meet with your boss. Go in armed with case studies and examples of real-world results. A single Google search can dig up countless case studies to support your cause for conversion optimization.

One approach is the attitude of “it’s only testing.” This shows your boss that the changes you’re proposing are only temporary unless they outperform what already exists.

Need help getting buy-in from your organization? Watch our on-demand webinar 6 Successful Ways To Get Company Buy-in for SEO.

Set Goals

Ultimately, you want every page on your site to funnel visitors toward conversion.

How do you do that? Set clear goals.

To set clear goals, you need to answer these questions:

Who is your audience? A good SEO program should have done the legwork of defining who your audience is if you don’t already know. You can look at things like demographics, keyword research, and customer interviews for more insights.

Creating personas based on audience research will help you to target your actual customers, rather than people you think are customers.

Related: 3 Steps to Define Your Audience for Your SEO Program

What are the goals for your audience(s)? What do you want this segment to do? Even without testing, if you orient website changes around your audience, it will typically show some improvements. And through testing, you can increase the success of those improvements.

What are the goals for any given webpage? Understand what goals you have for any given webpage and how visitors are expected to accomplish those goals. Keep your goals and audience in mind even when designing what may seem like minor elements like an “add to cart” button or hero banner call-to-action.

Test, and Then Test Some More

A room full of executives or marketing staff could sit around for weeks thinking up new designs, navigation, headlines, images, and more; but in the end, all they will have is an educated guess at best.

In fact, many times these folks are so out of touch with actual customers that calling it an “educated guess” isn’t even valid. Only through testing can you confirm those ideas and know for sure whether they are effective.

Many site owners shy away from conversion testing because of the potential negative impact it could have. However, there is value even if the testing produces fewer conversions on a webpage than it did prior. This way, you know what not to do.

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that educated testing seldom produces negative results. Even when negative results occur, you are not bound by those results.

(Typically a test can run anywhere from a few weeks to a month, so it’s a short-term period that likely won’t have a lasting negative impact on business.)

Also, the benefits of knowing what you should not do to your site based on negative test results can justify the value of having to run that test.

Ready to increase your conversion rate on your site? Our SEO Training course will help you take website visitors and turn them into customers.

FAQ: Why is conversion optimization important for maximizing the value of your organic traffic?

Conversion optimization is an invaluable strategy for businesses seeking to maximize organic traffic. By increasing the conversion rate on the website, conversion optimization can increase visitor value from organic search. Conversion optimization plays a pivotal role in strengthening an organization’s online presence.

Organic traffic is invaluable as it comes from users actively searching for your products or services. But to be successful, conversion optimization involves more than simply visitors. To be truly effective, it involves leading users toward desired actions such as making purchases, filling out forms, or subscribing to your newsletters.

By optimizing your site for conversions, organic traffic won’t go to waste. Visitors will be empowered and encouraged to interact with your content instead of passively browsing — this results in higher conversion rates, sales increases and overall an improved return on investment from organic traffic.

Conversion optimization involves improving the user’s experience on your website. You can do this by observing user behaviors, conducting A/B tests and adding user-friendly design elements that ensure an enjoyable, seamless journey for visitors. This will ultimately cause them to stay longer, view additional pages and convert into customers.

Conversion optimization provides another great opportunity to identify potential friction points or barriers in the user’s journey and eliminate them. By analyzing data and gathering feedback from users, conversion optimization enables you to identify obstacles preventing visitors from converting and take proactive steps to address them, improving not only conversion rates but also user satisfaction and loyalty.

Businesses cannot ignore the significance of optimizing for conversions in today’s highly competitive online environment. By investing time and resources to optimize your website for conversions, businesses can maximize the value of organic traffic while simultaneously increasing revenue growth and business success. A well-optimized site not only draws visitors, but also encourages them to take desired actions that lead to greater revenues for increased business success.

Conversion optimization is essential to unlocking the full value of organic traffic. Your website can become an effective business development tool by improving conversion rates, improving user experience and eliminating barriers that inhibit conversions.

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 website.

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

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4 Replies to “SEO and Conversions: Two Halves of a Pie”

For many businesses the SEO is all for naught without conversions. Great article.

True to the article stated, SEO and converting into customers is a long and enduring process.

Thank you for sharing your insights and knowledge with us.

You want to ensure your website is set up to maximize the value of your organic traffic.


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