What SEOs Can Learn from CROs
SEO is a complex discipline. In 2017 it’s set to become even more of a broad skillset, with SEOs wearing multiple hats. You’ll see SEOs switching from being a content marketer one minute, to a technical ninja the next. An SEO is increasingly also a CRO (conversion rate optimizer) and an UX (user experience) specialist.
By optimizing websites for conversions and users; and not just chasing after more web traffic, you’ll have a more lasting impact on your digital profile. Here are some key lessons that all SEOs can take from CROs. (Because let’s face it – we all need to learn how to do better SEO with people and sales at its heart).
Religious user testing
CROs are great at:
- Testing their assumptions rigorously &
- Analyzing data.
If you want to succeed at SEO, you’ll need to adopt the same approach. Get comfortable with user data and learn how to draw accurate conclusions from what it’s telling you.
Data analysis and user testing can tell you what parts of the site are letting the side down, and what content topics users are engaging with the most.
Converting leads is more cost-effective
Driving after new traffic is less cost-effective than making the most of what you’ve already got.
SEOs need to switch some of their traffic generation efforts to lead generation in order to maximize SEO return on investment.
- Shift the focus away from the curious SEO’s “what’s out there”, to “what we can do with what we’ve got”? Work with the existing site and business infrastructure to maximize lead generation. Is there a contact list that needs resurrecting with an email blast? Content downloads not being followed up well? Core keywords being neglected on category pages? Low social media referrals caused by unclear messaging? Optimize what’s in front of you before running off into the SEO sunset.
- Use SEO-friendly and sales-oriented landing pages to better capture search traffic (and convert paid traffic). Here is how to build effective and converting landing pages.
Putting the users first
We’re all learning how to better put users first.
Instead of ‘forcing’ people to behave in a certain way, it’s now all about creating an integrated sales and search funnel.
- Be clear, but don’t talk down to your audience. Never treat customers like unruly children who need to be forcibly funnelled down a certain path. Move away from more manipulative search tactics like keyword repetition, and drop the annoying salesy pop-ups. Focus on providing users with information that they are going to find valuable instead.
- Think about what users really want – what questions are they asking (and why)? What problems do they have? A keyword research tool like AnswerThePublic can really help you get under people’s skin.
- Conduct in-depth market research to help you understand the market you’re operating in. You can’t put people first if you don’t even know who they are!
Integration with design, development & content teams
For the best digital results, there needs to be integration and buy-in at the highest level.
CROs know that they need design and development time in order to meet their targets. To do their jobs well, SEOs need equal access to designers, developers and writers.
Don’t rush in and change everything at once
CROs are very good at isolating out individual tactics and focusing on them one by one. SEOs could also benefit from a more systematic approach to web improvements. Learn how to prioritize well.
Focus on the journey
To get to the goal, you need to first understand the journey.
SEOs need to approach the on-site user journey with the same enthusiasm they reserve for the search journey. Not sure where to start? Here is how to map a customer journey.
Tie it to ROI (return on investment)
CROs may have the luxury of being able to point to a percentage lift in conversion rates, but a lack of clear metrics shouldn’t stop SEOs from also thinking in terms of ROI.
- Look at how a rankings lift will impact projected traffic, and how that would then increase the number of potential leads and sales. It’s important to try to estimate the commercial value of SEO tactics in order to justify an investment.
- SEO is a long game – this needs to be made clear from day one. KPIs (key performance indicators) should reflect that, and never mislead people into expecting immediate results. Clear KPIs mean no nasty surprises
Online results are always better when they involve smart integration of different tactics, disciplines, and teams. Integration helps you meet targets and build a brand, rather than just a business. What online goals are you setting yourself in 2017?
Do you do your own SEO or do you use a different company?
Please leave me a comment and let me know which way you go on this.
One of my first jobs was running a cash register in my grandmothers diner. My job was to talk to customers and and to keep everything in my area neat and organized. Now years later those lessons I learned help me in managing client files and projects. Making sure our team is working to help our clients reach their business goals is what drives me everyday.
I am a strong believer that to succeed in life you have to work hard and never let roadblocks stand in your way. You have to read and study but you also have to experience life and all that it can teach you.
My mission is to help clients and our team have the materials and knowledge they need to make every project a success, while making sure to spread some of the information I learn around for others to enjoy.