December 18th, 2014 / 3 min read

Knowing the difference: SEO & CRO

and why you really need both to conquer the web

Posted By: Matt Baldwin

Search engine optimization is a big deal and has been for quite some time. I get bombarded with companies trying to sell me an SEO tool every time I search for anything related to creating better websites.

But there’s another form of optimization you won’t see nearly as many people talking about that’s even more important. It’s called Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) and it’s a new trend that could be the answer to some of your digital woes.

Often times, I find that companies just starting to build a web presence likely don’t know the difference between CRO and SEO.

Understanding the difference between SEO and CRO and identifying exactly what your company needs is paramount to establishing a greater web presence and achieving your digital goals.

First, let’s review SEO. It’s creating backlinks, better content, social media shares, meta tags and more to get your website higher on search engine results pages. Essentially, it is a set of standards that, when executed correctly, makes your website more attractive to search engines. Many times companies make this sound like an undertaking that only experts can accomplish. That’s not true.

Much of what makes SEO so widely known is that it can be achieved by improving a site’s structure and a site’s content. The more retweets, likes, and overall better structure to your page, the higher you will appear on search engines over time. SEO is an ongoing process, not a one-time change.

CRO is entirely different. It deals with the people who are already on your site, and works to turn those visitors into paying customers. SEO is about getting people to your site, CRO is about what they do when they get there.

Every website has a conversion rate, and most people don’t realize that you can actually change it. Websites are not a fixed asset. Optimization is achieved in a multitude of ways, but it always begins with analytics and eventually leads to changes in design that can range from moving a button and changing the color scheme to totally redesigning the landing page and testing new messaging, pricing, and/or images.

The key to CRO is testing — split testing, A/B testing, whatever you want to call it. As the website is tested, changes are made to maximize the percentage of site visitors who actually do what you want them to do (this is called converting). While this is an ongoing process just like SEO, the benefits of CRO are more permanent than those of SEO, (For instance, your Google ranking can drop randomly overnight).

Different types of optimizations may play a more important role in different situations. For example, an online news site would probably be more interested in SEO, because this would increase traffic from search results. An eCommerce store would be more interested in CRO, as they are trying to maximizing the number of site visitors that actually order a product. Most of the time though, optimization strategies work hand-in-hand. SEO is implemented to get more visitors to your site and CRO converts those visitors to actual users, which then increases web traffic from other sources and adds back to the SEO. Overall, it is simply a matter of what comes first, what is most important for your site, and the long-term goal of your web presence.
Posted By: Matt Baldwin

Matt Baldwin was one of two Business Development Inters at LionsMouth this past summer. With experience in everything from founding a mobile app company to starting his own affiliate network, this Baylor Bear thrives in developing marketing communications, sales plans and execution strategies. Matt continues to stay active at Baylor through All University Sing, intramurals, and Greek life.

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