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How To Make Your CRO and SEO Strategies Work Together For More Ecommerce Sales

Business owners should be thinking about balancing their efforts between attracting website visitors and converting them into buyers.

Note: This article is based on Episode 49 of Drive and Convert: How do CRO and SEO Exist Together? You can listen to it here:

Tell me if this sounds like your business.

You have finally gotten organic search results on an upward curve after months of effort. Traffic is no longer a concern–conversions are.

You search Google for a solution and come across a series of conversion rate optimization strategies. The tips you find sound great, but you’re hesitant. What if what you try backfires, and instead of increasing conversions, you decrease your organic traffic?

This feeling is natural but tends to be exaggerated. Yes, every tweak to a page can affect search rankings, but conversion rate optimization done right provides ROI that can boost traffic…or at least recoup the traffic in time.

Search engine optimization (SEO) and conversion rate optimization (CRO) are not in a competition. Instead, think of these two key ecommerce growth strategies as collaborators that amplify your ROI when used together strategically.

Why the Fear of CRO Ruining SEO is Exaggerated

First and foremost, Google officially sanctions A/B testing and even offers a tool for it through Google Optimize. That alone shows a proper CRO strategy enhances SEO results.

Think about it. Google’s known ranking factors center around user experience. Metrics like session time, pages per session, and page load speed all reflect the user’s experience. CRO also revolves around optimizing the user experience, so a successful CRO is successful SEO at the category and landing page levels.

With that being said, there is a kernel of truth in the fear that CRO testing can affect SEO results. If someone really didn’t know what they were doing, they could do something like completely delete all the text, so a buy button is all the visitor sees. 

This would tank SEO results, but this is an exaggerated example. CRO tests are never that dramatic. In reality, CRO focuses on small and iterative A/B tests that build on each other. 

Ninety-nine percent of the time, the content that was written for SEO isn’t even a part of the conversion conversation. There are only rare cases when a substantial change to a page is made, and in those cases, it is never advisable to do it to a page ranking on the first page of Google.

Let’s look at some tactics for fusing SEO and CRO into a holistic digital ecommerce strategy.

4 Tactics for Using CRO and SEO Together

The following are our tactics for building an SEO-friendly CRO strategy. In addition to tips you can apply yourself, you will get a foundational understanding of how elements from both disciplines work together in practice.

1. Be Strategic About Which Pages You Test On

As we mentioned earlier, the main way CRO can negatively impact SEO is by making a dramatic, negative change to a page that is getting great organic traffic to begin with.

Iterative A/B testing works best on pages that see a steady flow of SEO traffic, but do not make up the lion’s share of traffic to your site. For example, a product page that ranks 5th for its target keyword is a better choice to run A/B tests on than a product page ranking in the top spot.

Also, changes to the page copy have the most potential to affect search ranking. Keyword density is still one of Google’s core ranking factors. The less keyword-rich content a page has, the harder it is for the algorithm to dub a piece of content the best result for a given query.

Focus your CRO changes on design and it becomes virtually impossible to create a negative SEO effect.

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2. Keep a Level-Headed Perspective Regarding Rank Changes

Going hand in hand with the first tip, keep the value of search rankings in perspective. The reality is that, for most category-level keywords, an ecommerce giant like Amazon or Walmart will hold the top spot. Getting the first ranking is certainly the ultimate goal of SEO, but sometimes just getting into the top 10 results is an accomplishment.

When you understand how much it takes to try and outrank major companies, you quickly realize you may never win against them in a battle for most organic traffic. CRO allows you to focus on extracting more value from the traffic you already get rather than pushing to feed more traffic into your funnel. 

3. Create Separate Budgets for SEO and CRO

Oftentimes when prospective clients come to us, they think of CRO and SEO as initiatives that come from the same budget pool. They want to move money from SEO to add CRO to the mix.

The problem with this thinking is this is actually more likely to hurt your SEO rankings than any on-page iterative testing. By shrinking your SEO budget, you are giving your efforts fewer resources while maintaining the same expectations. It’s a recipe for frustration.

The key to merging CRO and SEO at the strategic level is to keep them separate in your budget. And to know that each deserves its own share. 

4. Unify Your SEO and CRO Strategies Under a Common Revenue Objective

We alluded to this earlier–both CRO and SEO initiatives revolve around the user’s experience. The better the UX, the more people buy, which satisfies the goals of both CRO and SEO.

This sounds simple in theory, but in practice, it is easy for these two disciplines to be at war with each other if they are completely siloed. The best solution is to have the teams that manage each effort in touch with each other through all stages of their processes.

The likelihood of conflict goes down drastically when the left hand knows what the right hand is doing.

CRO And SEO Should Work Together

The relationship between SEO and CRO is key to building a powerful ecommerce brand.

We understand that the “chicken or the egg” can come up frequently when deciding what to focus your effort on, conversions or traffic, but we’re here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way. 

Business owners should be thinking about balancing their efforts between attracting website visitors and converting those visitors into buyers.

If you’re struggling, we can help you do it.

If you enjoyed this article, check out the Drive and Convert podcast for more ecommerce insights from Jon and Ryan.

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Subscribe to our newsletter, Good Question, to get insights like this sent straight to your inbox every week.

Jon MacDonald smiling at the camera for The Good

About the Author

Jon MacDonald

Jon MacDonald is founder and President of The Good, a digital experience optimization firm that has achieved results for some of the largest companies including Adobe, Nike, Xerox, Verizon, Intel and more. Jon regularly contributes to publications like Entrepreneur and Inc.