If you think that conversion rate optimization (or CRO) and search engine optimization (or SEO) are the same thing, then take 3 minutes to read this post. Because the names might sound the same but they are two completely different services with two very different ROI’s. Essentially, SEO is focused on driving targeted traffic to your website which might actually convert into buyers. CRO, on the other hand, is focused on converting a higher percentage of existing and future traffic into buyers. But here is a more detailed breakdown of the differences between conversion rate optimization vs. SEO:
Conversion Rate Optimization vs. SEO
CRO Does Not Increase Marketing Costs
CRO experts don’t generate SEO content, buy clicks, or have anything to do with increasing traffic or marketing costs. Instead, conversion rate optimization may actually reduce your marketing budget while delivering more sales by eliminating non-converting keywords from your marketing campaigns.
CRO experts specialize in using web analysis to find and fix problems in the copywriting, design, and web programming that are harming conversions. Next, a team of copywriters, web developers, shopping cart experts, and various programmers and online marketing experts will work together to fix the problems. Once fixed, the new conversion rate will be statistically verified via testing everything over a large traffic sample.
The end result is a site that may convert 50, 100, or even 300% better than the original. While the average increase is around 40%, the screenshot below is from a recent split test of a VSL optimization:
CRO Generates More Conversions Long After Job is Complete
When it comes to overall ROI, the clear winner in the conversion rate optimization vs. seo debate is CRO. The reason is simple: The ROI continues to climb for up to years after an optimization is complete.
Conversion rate experts make permanent changes to your website’s core components and then statistically verify the new c/r over a large traffic sample. The end result is a new conversion rate that might generate 40% more conversions, on average, than your original site configuration–for many months, even years, after the job is done. Yes, the entry of new competitors and changes to your business model could cause a decline but that’s true for any investment.
Easily Measure ROI from CRO
Conversion rate optimization is all about stats, facts, web analytics data, and you can track the ROI from start to finish without any problem. With SEO, you need fuzzy math and a team of experts to calculate the ROI and even then: You’re never really sure, you know. But from day one, the conversion rate experts are dialing-in your site analytics and tracking platforms and helping you measure your site’s success or failures in ways you never knew existed. But once you do, you can’t imagine how you ran a site without this vital info. So when it comes to transparency, score one to CRO in the conversion rate optimization vs. SEO comparison.
However and to be perfectly fair here: There are tools on the market today that can help you estimate ROI from an SEO campaign.
Here is a link to one such SEO ROI calculator that you can use to at least estimate the effectiveness of your SEO campaigns:
CRO is 100% Focused on Generating More Sales and Profits
If you aren’t careful, your SEO experts are going to drown you with search engine rankings and monthly organic traffic stats that distract you from the only thing you should care about: Is this investment making me money or not?
With CRO, fixing weak conversion rates and boosting online profitability is the business: To generate more sales out of existing traffic and increase overall profitability. A CRO firm looks for ways to reduce your marketing costs, increase conversions on primary sales or landing pages, improve email marketing conversions, reduce customer acquisition costs: All the “boring things” that actually move the needle on your website’s bottom line!
At the end of the day, an investment in SEO, PPC, SMM or any traffic-generating investment is only technically creating more traffic–but absolutely no guarantee that any it will actually convert at a high marketing-to-sales ratio. You are technically buying more visitors, not necessarily more buyers. And shady SEO, PPC and SMM companies will purposely target low competition keywords so your traffic may go up, but the traffic will be of low quality and not convert well at all.
Conversion Rate Optimization Makes SEO More Profitable
By making permanent changes to your website to fix the conversion problems, CRO experts actually boost the conversion rate for all traffic sources. So if your organic traffic is converting at 2% now, it might convert at 2.5-3% after optimization long after the CRO work is complete. So by investing in conversion rate optimization, SEO and all other traffic generating investments will generate a higher ROI for long after the job is done.
Final Thoughts on Conversion Rate Optimization vs. SEO
The CRO vs. SEO debate isn’t a debate: It’s apples and oranges.
- CRO Increases Conversions vs. SEO that Increases Traffic
- CRO Has No Recurring Fees or Costs vs. SEO That Requires Constant Investment
- CRO Reduces Marketing Costs vs. SEO that Increases Them
- CRO Has a Much Higher ROI that is Easier to Measure
- CRO Actually Makes SEO More Profitable
When it comes to the conversion rate optimization vs. SEO debate, just remember one thing:
With SEO, it might be 2 months before you even start to realize that your investment is going nowhere. With CRO, you’ll know almost immediately.