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We were recently asked whether CRO is a viable alternative to SEO – it’s an interesting question that definitely deserves more than a single-sentence answer!

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and describes the process of developing a website to make it more appealing to search engines. The goal is to make your website appear as close to the top as possible on a search engine results page (SERP) for certain keywords or phrases. SEO is relatively simple to monitor – if your company specialises in barn conversions in the Shropshire area, with good SEO your website should have a high SERP for the phrase ‘barn conversion Shropshire’. If prospective clients can’t find your website through search engines, you will be relying solely on word-of-mouth and offline advertising to drive visitors to your site.

What is CRO?

CRO, or Conversion Rate Optimisation, describes the process of optimising your website with the aim of converting as many visitors as possible into customers. By performing a series of tests it is possible to determine which layouts, images and content are most effective at this conversion. If you are not selling products online, successful CRO can be reflected in the percentage of visitors responding to your Calls to Action, such as signing up to a newsletter or contacting you through a form.

A website with low CRO will see a large percentage of visitors leave without visiting other pages or responding to your CTAs – this high bounce rate typically indicates that something is amiss with your site.

Which is more important – SEO or CRO?

Deciding how you should spend your time and money on optimisation is important to get right. CRO and SEO’s order of precedence changes depending on how well developed your website is – the resources you invest in each of these disciplines should reflect this!

For a brand new website for a startup company, SEO is king. Attempting to perform analysis for CRO on a site with a small number of visitors can produce very unreliable results – the smaller your survey group, the bigger the margin of error! Your focus at this stage should be on driving traffic to your website through successful SEO and marketing.

CRO starts to become more important when your website begins to receive a steady flow of visitors. Improving your conversion rate will gradually become more profitable than increasing the traffic to your website. If your website had a 5% conversion rate with 1000 unique visitors a day, it would make more sense to focus on increasing your conversion rate by 5% than trying to double the amount of traffic you receive!

Increasing your conversion rate through CRO will also help with the organic SEO of your site – Google can monitor your visitors’ web activity and treats a high bounce rate as an indication that your site is not entirely relevant to the keywords you are promoting.

How do I perform CRO for my website?

In its simplest form, CRO can be performed by making changes to your website and monitoring the resultant changes in traffic through your preferred traffic logging software. There are drawbacks to this as you cannot tell what effects outside sources are having on the number of conversions you receive. If the market suddenly changes and people gain an interest in services which your company provides, a false-positive may be generated.

A more reliable means of optimising your site is through an A/B experiment. It is easy to misjudge the perceptions of your audience and create a website that does not appeal to the majority of users, so rather than replace a page with a different version, you can configure your website to alternate between the versions of a page that it displays. By doing this you can show half of your visitors the old page while the other half sees the experimental content – this also cancels out the risk of false positives since you are no longer comparing statistics to historical data. If one variation of a page has a much higher conversion rate than the other, you can safely assume that the content it displays is more appealing to your visitors.

CRO can also be performed through multivariate testing. This is a technique for testing different combinations of text, images and layout in a similar fashion to A/B experimentation. The aim of multivariate testing is to perform multiple A/B tests at once, without having to create unique pages for each combination of content. Due to the complexity of the testing, this can be a very expensive way of optimising your website.

If you have any further questions about SEO or CRO, please contact Ardant Design, we’re here to help!

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  • Fisher

    Google analytics on my web sites showing a large bounce rate but high repeat visits. Is something wrong?

    • Ardant

      Bounce rates can be a little misleading, depending on the layout of your website. Previous visitors may return to your website just to see if you have updated your news section – if nothing has changed (or your latest news article is shown in its entirety without your visitor needing to click on any links), they are likely to leave without re-visiting parts of the site they have already looked at.

      • Fisher

        Brilliant, thanks I was hoping it was something like that. The homepage shows the latest offers and latest news so I’ll see what happens if I move them onto different pages.

        • Ardant

          No problem, hopefully you’ll start seeing a more ‘realistic’ bounce rate!

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