Should SEO’s be thinking about conversion rate optimization?


  • Conversion rate optimization should be a consideration as part of quality SEO
  • Freelance SEO’s who aren’t at the very least thinking about or implementing low level CRO are letting their clients down
  • Conversions should always be the main focal point (sales, customer enquiries)
  • Be careful about how much time/effort you spend impelementing/testing CRO.
  • A qualified expert should be consulted for indepth assistance (which is NOT the responsibility of the SEO)


Marc:                    And when you talk about, I guess, conversion rate optimization or looking at how a user looks at the page, at what point in your SEO process do you look at that, why you create the content I suppose, but later on, do you also go back and check, say anything we need to do in terms of CRO?

John:                     Yeah, conversion rate optimization is, as you know, it’s kind of well outside SEO and it certainly makes for an interesting discussion, and I know that I’ve seen this question come up in a lot of Facebook groups and forums and Reddit groups and so forth over the years. And there’s a real fucking divide in the SEO industry about conversion rate optimization and as to how much of that we as SEOs should be responsible or even thinking about that at all.

John:                     And I’ve seen a lot of discussions get quite heated with SEO’s saying, “Fuck conversion rate optimization. They’re not paying me for that. I’m only getting $300 a month. It’s got nothing to do with me. I don’t care.” I think it matters. It matters because I think SEO… Let me back up a second. I think SEOs that aren’t measuring the metrics that matter. They’re sending their client a fucking keyword or a rankings report. Doesn’t fucking mean anything.

John:                     “Bob, you’re on the first page for fluffy bunnies.” Bob’s at the other end going, “Fuck me, I’m paying $5,000 a month. Phone’s not ringing.” SEOs that are doing that couldn’t give a rat’s ass about conversion rate optimization because they’re not tracking again the metrics that matter.

John:                     And as you know, as part of my training, I talk heavily… That’s how I base my whole premise around fucking demonstrating a positive return on investment. Because you’re tracking conversions, telephone calls, and customer inquiries, or sales. You can segment that out and see how much of that comes through organic search. So conversion rate optimization definitely becomes an interesting conversation. For me, it matters because if I can’t achieve that desired outcome for my clients, then everything we’re doing is a fucking waste of time. And that’s why I do it.

John:                     But you got to be real careful here and this is something that I’m mindful of. I will pull a site apart, because as you know someone comes to SEO, “Marc, I’m interested in doing SEO.” It’s a mess and you look at it and go, “It’s not going to convert.” So we’ve got to fix the site first, add in our calls to action add in our goal tracking, call tracking, everything else. Make sure that we can accurately track and measure our efforts through SEO, so that at the end of the month we can say, “Okay Bob, you paid us $2,500, you made 80 grand out of this, out of organic search.” Bingo. But I think there’s a fine line there between how much conversion rate optimization you actually do as an SEO.

John:                     I care enough in order to get the phone ringing. I’m talking about lead gen. Lead gen, the phone’s got to ring. Customer inquires, e-commerce is a little bit different. I care enough to make that happen at the basic level, but if a client ever says to me, “John let’s organise split testing and changing the headlines.” That shit’s definitely for someone who is a conversion rate optimization specialist.

John:                     But it makes for an interesting conversation. I’ve seen a lot of SEO’s. I saw one just recently. I read SEO Signals, people almost having arguments. “Fuck off. I don’t want to know about conversion rate optimization. I’m just getting paid to build links and fix meta tags.” “No you’re not.” And that’s where I think people that do my training and come out the other end and go, “Holy fuck, this changes everything because I can demonstrate return on investment.”

John:                     And that’s where conversion rate optimization matters. Because if you’re doing SEO on a site that’s fucking broken, it’s not converting, then you’re wasting everyone’s time.

Marc:                    Fair enough. Yeah. I’ve got a client at the moment who is a pretty much ranking for all of the keywords that they care about. So now I’m sort of thinking, “Right, what are we going to do now?” So their website could certainly use a do-over. But yeah, question is if they’re going to go with it or if we’ve just tried to fix the old website and an improved CRO on this website.

John:                     Yes. It’s an interesting conversation. One thing that I know with absolute certainty is that business owners, right? “Fuck the phone’s not ringing.” First thing I say is, “We need more traffic.” And you know what? Sometimes, I mean, I shouldn’t say sometimes. In almost every case, they don’t need more traffic. They’re just wasting the traffic they’ve already got.

John:                     So once you set up goal tracking and start tracking accurately, measuring conversions, you’re can look and go, “Well, Karen, your site’s converting at 0.2%. let’s fix the fucking website, get this thing to 2 or 3%. That’s like tripling or quadrupling the amount of traffic that you’re getting.” Because people are landing on the site and they can see a fucking inquiry form there. Or there’s the phone number on the home page. “Wow.” I mean, a lot of this shit is common sense, right? But as we both know, you land on someone’s site sometimes, say, “Where the fuck’s the phone number here? Can’t find anything.”

John:                     So conversion rate optimization really matters. And when you do SEO right, the right way, it’s absolutely crucial to be thinking about that. Because I have a lot of conversations with business owners, Marc, that come to me and they say, “Fuck, John, I’m so glad that you said we need to fix the website at the beginning of the campaign because I’ve just spent two years working with another agency and after two years, right, they’ve come to me and said, “Well, maybe we probably should have fixed the site first.” That’s why we’re not getting results.” Fucking crazy.

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