How to Optimize Your Website for SEO and Conversions

by Neil Patel

Last updated on September 11th, 2018

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Have you learned how to optimize your website for both SEO and conversions?

If not, your website isn’t working as hard as it should.

SEO and conversions might exist in separate parts of the marketing sector, but they’re inextricably linked.

If you have good SEO, you can attract more traffic and get more opportunities to convert potential customers.

And a website optimized for conversions typically has better metrics, such as time on page and bounce rate, which means that Google might rank it higher.

The following tips and strategies will teach you how to optimize your website for both SEO and conversions so you get the both of best worlds.

5 Reasons You Need to Optimize Your Website

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If you’re not sure whether you need to spend the time necessary to learn how to optimize for conversions and SEO in tandem, there are plenty of reasons to set aside that time.

First you need to know how they work together to create a leaner, more productive website.

Let’s look at five specific reasons to optimize your site immediately and to continually optimize your site as time passes.

1. Make your website useful for your specific audience

Marketers sometimes feel as though they’re at odds with Google. The search engine fails to rank their best content, for instance, or they see a huge drop in traffic after an algorithmic update.

In reality, though, your goals and Google’s are the same:

  • Serve up the best possible content for your audience
  • Create a positive website user experience
  • Prioritize content that offers significant value

You just go about it in different ways. Google’s analyzing millions of websites, while you’re analyzing your specific audience’s behaviors.

Google uses more than 200 ranking signals to decide which pieces of content appear on the first page of the search engine results. The algorithm pays careful attention to signs that a particular web page will give searchers the information they seek.

When you focus on SEO, you choose primary and latent semantic keywords related to search intent. You write content that people love to read and make sure you provide meta information to help Google better understand the copy.

If you optimize your website for conversions, you focus on guiding visitors toward a specific goal, whether it’s joining your email list or buying one of your products. Just like Google, you want to give your audience exactly what those consumers want.

Knowing how to optimize your website for SEO and conversions simultaneously furthers both of those goals and creates a better relationship between your site and the search engines.

2. Grow your organic traffic

The average business spends about 1 percent of its total revenue on advertising. If your business rakes in $1 million per year, you might spend $10,000 on advertising.

While that might seem like a small percentage, it adds up. Some industries, such as retail, spend considerably more on ads.

Attracting organic traffic through SEO, however, is free. You have to pay to develop and promote the content, but that’s not nearly as expensive as pay-per-click.

When you compare the close rate between searchers who arrive at your site via organic search and those that come via paid ads, the results are illustrative. Organic search closes at nearly 15 percent, while paid search closes at less than 2 percent.

Invest your time and, if necessary, money into growing your organic traffic. It might take longer, but the results last longer and result in more conversions.

3. Capitalize on existing traffic

When people visit your website, you don’t want them to poke around and leave. Instead, you want to make a lasting impression and encourage them to return.

Learning how to optimize your website for conversions requires an understanding of the user experience. Figure out how visitors navigate your site, whether they scroll down the page, and how often they click on your calls to action (CTAs).

If someone signs up for your email list, you can contact them at a later date with offers, incentives, and more. You can also encourage visitors to follow you on social, visit your product pages, and read your blog posts.

Capitalizing on existing traffic helps improve your conversion rate because a higher percent of your organic traffic will convert. You know what offer your audience will respond to and how to present it to them in an appealing way.

4. Force your website to work harder

Anyone can build a website — even a beautiful website — but far fewer can create a website that reliably produces conversions. After all, the average conversion rate across all industries is less than 2.5 percent.

You want your audience to convert at much higher rates. To do so, you have to study your audience closely and give them what they need and expect.

If you’ve done the research and applied the data to your site, you can expect a jump in conversion rates. The people who visit your site find what they need quickly and appreciate your brand for providing it. Brand loyalty results.

SEO always comes first, though. Without traffic, you can’t have conversions. Create a site with valuable, sticky content and plenty of opportunities for visitors to convert.

5. Give your audience what they want and expect

Imagine this scenario:

You have an e-commerce site that sells shoes. A customer needs a new pair of running shoes and conducts a Google search for the best shoes for runners. You’ve written a long, in-depth blog post about choosing running shoes, including brand recommendations and information for different types of runners.

The visitor reads the article. At the end, you have a lead magnet that offers a free sizing and fit chart for runners. All the visitor has to do is sign up for your email list.

You send the lead magnet immediately to the visitor. A few days later, you send out a coupon code for your online store along with images of running shoes. The customer realizes you have what meets his or her needs, and the discount incentivizes an immediate sale.

As you can see, SEO and conversion rate optimization work hand-in-hand. If you meet your audience’s expectations and help them find what they want, you’ll secure a customer.

How to Optimize your Website for SEO in 8 Simple Steps

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If SEO and conversions go together, you know you have to start somewhere. Begin by boosting the SEO on your website so you draw more traffic.

The following steps will set you up for success in terms of SEO. You can then turn your focus to conversions while continuing to update and release new content.

1. Analyze all of your website data

One piece of data by itself might not tell you anything, but when you collect lots of data, you start to notice patterns.

If a few people visit your site and fail to click on your CTA, you might not have a problem.

However, if a large percentage of visitors ignore your CTA, you might need to make some adjustments.

User behavior reports and Google Search Console traffic data help paint a clear picture. User behavior reports, for instance, show you how people behave once they land on your site, while GSC data tracks key metrics, such as number of sessions, number of unique sessions, bounce rate, and more.

Analyze the data for specific patterns. Referral sources can tell you a lot about your audience. How are people finding your site? Look for pages that get more traffic and more conversions than others. Reverse-engineer that page’s success to replicate it across your site.

2. Conduct thorough keyword research

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Years ago, you could pick a keyword out of thin air, write a 300-word article, and rank for that keyword the next day. SEO doesn’t work like that anymore.

Tools like Ubersuggest help you find keywords related to your business and niche. Use it to find long-tail keywords that fit with your prospective customers’ user intent. Think about why they would search for a particular keyword and what they would hope to find on a page about it.

Start with a broad keyword. For instance, maybe you offer dog boarding, so you begin with a keyword like “dog kennels.”

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Ubersuggest will provide you with a list of keywords that you can filter in several ways. You’re looking for long-tail keywords you can use to attract a specific audience.

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Do this over and over again as you create more pages for your site. Write long, in-depth articles that provide as much information on the topic as possible.

3. Produce long and value-rich content

According to Buffer, the ideal length for a blog post is 1,600 words. That’s just a starting point, though.

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Before you decide on the optimum length for your content, Google your primary keyword and visit the top 10 result in the SERPs. Are some of those pages longer than 1,600 words? Then yours should be, too.

Length isn’t everything. However, it sends a signal to Google that you’re providing more information. If lots of people spend a long time on that page — reading to the very end — you’re more likely to rank higher.

4. Optimize for on-page SEO

On-page SEO tells you how to optimize your website when you’re building specific pages. Factors like headlines, subheadlines, URL slugs, and meta tags fall into this category.

Use your primary keyword in your headline, preferably as close to the beginning as possible. It should also appear in the slug and at least one subheadline. Throughout the body copy, aim for .5 percent to 2.5 percent. Try not to go over the higher end to avoid looking like a keyword stuffer.

Sprinkle your primary and related keywords throughout your body copy, subheadlines, and image alt text. Include plenty of context for each so Google accurately understands what you’re talking about.

5. Optimize for off-page SEO

Off-page SEO — also called off-site SEO — refers to the ways in which you optimize your website via external means. Guest blogging, social media activity, influencer marketing, and brand mentions can all improve your site’s SEO.

We’ll talk specifically about backlinks a little later, but links in general can make a big difference in SEO. You don’t want to get links from small, low-authority sites. They won’t help (and they can hurt). Instead, you want to target well-respected publications when researching backlinks.

6. Optimize the website for mobile

With more and more people accessing websites via mobile devices, you don’t want to leave those potential conversions out in the cold. Furthermore, Google has launched the mobile-first index, which means you might rank better if you focus on mobile friendliness.

Responsive design offers the easiest solution. You can download free and premium WordPress themes that have responsive design built in, which means you don’t have to worry about adding any extra code.

7. Speed up the pages

Page speed matters when it comes to both SEO and conversions.

If you visit a website that takes forever to load, you’ll likely click the “back” button and look for something else. Similarly, if you’re filling out a form that refuses to submit due to slow speed, you’ll eventually give up.

Google’s PageSpeed Insights gives you valuable insight into how fast your site loads across all devices and what specific things you can fix to make your site faster.

8. Get quality backlinks

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Backlinks are a prime factor in helping your website rank better.

When high-quality sites link to yours, Google interprets the link as a signal of your site’s credibility. As you build a solid backlink profile, your pages will climb up the ranks.

Getting quality backlinks takes effort, but you’ll see results. Consider emailing influencers and other blogs in your niche. Share your article with them and point them to a page where you’ve shared a piece of their content.

Can SEO Improve Your Website Conversions?

Now that we’ve covered improving your SEO, what happens to your conversions?

You won’t see results right away. Rankings take time to build, especially with the plethora of content that exists online, so you have to work hard to build quality content, attract backlinks, and establish credibility with Google.

However, you should start preparing for conversions now. If you know how to optimize your website, you can immediately see greater conversions even if you have low traffic.

SEO improves conversions by directing the right searchers to your content. If you make a page’s purpose clear, Google can rank it accurately based on search intent on the part of the consumer.

Additionally, writing longer, more value-driven articles increases the chances of a visitor converting. They recognize the value of what you’ve shared and become intrigued. As long as you present them with an attractive offer, you increase the chances of gaining conversions.

Optimizing Your Website for Conversions – Improve the User Experience

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User experience simply means how people perceive your site relative to navigation and finding what they want. A good user experience leaves the visitor satisfied and appreciative.

To snag more conversions, focus on the smallest details. For instance, examine your homepage and identify every element, from your logo and top navigation bar to the widgets in your sidebar. If you removed one of those elements, would you harm the user experience?

If not, get rid of it. Focus on driving your traffic toward the action you want people to take.

Try User Behavior Tools to Analyze What Needs Improvement

Guesswork only goes so far when it comes to user experience. You might think an element on the page is necessary, but user behavior reports don’t bear that out.

Running user behavior reports gives you unique insights into what people do when they arrive on your website. Heatmaps, for instance, show you where the most clicking activity happens so you can position your most important elements on the page.

Conclusion

SEO can prove extremely complex, but knowing the basics will give you a running start.

Begin by collecting as much data as you can and conducting thorough research. Write content geared toward your audience, but make sure it’s better than your competitors’.

Create separate campaigns for on-page and off-page SEO. Make sure your site loads quickly on both desktop and mobile and that you’re attracting backlinks as much as possible.

Then figure out how to optimize your website for conversions so you don’t waste all that good traffic.

Focus on the user experience and the patterns you detect through user behavior reports. Over time, you’ll see traffic and conversions increase based on your hard work.

Furthermore, even older content can continue to work hard for you. Don’t discount your efforts as only relevant to the moment.

If you write solid evergreen content, you can attract traffic — and generate conversions — for years to come.

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Neil Patel

Neil Patel is the co-founder of Crazy Egg and Hello Bar. He helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue.

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