SEO Conversion Rate: The What, Why, and How | Linkflow
arrow-back Back to main blog

SEO Conversion Rate: The What, Why, and How

December 15, 2023

Web traffic is the #1 goal of almost everyone who invests in SEO. After all…if a successful SEO campaign is the input, that’s the direct output.

But what good is traffic if it isn’t printing you money?

If you aren’t engaging your target audience, bringing in qualified leads, and showing up on search engines for your customers, the big “organic traffic” number is nothing more than a vanity metric.

You need to focus on your SEO conversion rate.

What is your SEO conversion rate?

Your SEO conversion rate is the percentage of website visitors who take a desired action on your site. It’s simple math:

SEO Conversion Rate = Total Conversions / Total Organic Traffic

You’ll measure this on a macro level (over your whole campaign) and per individual page.

Depending on what exactly you’re measuring, an SEO conversion could be anything that ultimately contributes to your customer’s decision to purchase from you.

  • Filling out a form
  • Downloading a whitepaper
  • Signing up for a newsletter
  • Booking a sales call
  • Calling you directly
  • Sharing your content on their socials
  • Buying your product outright

If you’re measuring the impact of a specific page for a lead gen or demand gen campaign, a conversion might just mean filling out a form or getting in touch.

But if you’re measuring the overall effectiveness of your SEO efforts as part of a broader inbound marketing strategy, you’ll want to look at every possible conversion type.

And, if you’re justifying the expense, you’ll want to calculate SEO ROI by tying all your activities to top-line revenue growth.

Why track SEO conversion rates?

SEO conversions measure how successful your website is in turning visitors into customers or leads. You’d measure this for search engine optimization for the same reasons you would for paid ads: to cut out the guesswork, refine your campaigns, and show a return on investment.

You should track your SEO conversions because it will help you:

  • Determine if your SEO strategy is effective in reaching and engaging potential customers
  • Identify which pages and keywords are driving the most conversions
  • Optimize underperforming pages with higher conversion rates
  • Understand your target audience’s behavior and preferences
  • Tie your SEO efforts to tangible business outcomes and justify the investment

Beyond that, SEO and content marketing go hand-in-hand. Nearly half of today’s marketers agree it’s a critical deciding factor in whether content is successful (that is, it converts).

Google is a user-first platform. It’s nothing without people like you and me using it every day.

When we search for something, we expect to find the best content — stuff that answers our questions, solves our problems, and gets us to act decisively.

So, Google expects you to produce it. And if you do, it’ll reward you with higher rankings and more organic traffic.

And yes…the majority of people plan to convert after reading info they find on Google.

So, SEO encourages high-quality content production. 

If you’re producing high-quality content for an optimized website, naturally, it’s going to be a better experience for your users. That leads to higher conversion rates.

If your website isn’t converting, you either have a traffic quality issue or an on-site usability problem.

Either way, that’s bad for SEO performance. Tracking your SEO conversion rate helps you diagnose and fix these issues.

Is conversion rate an SEO ranking factor?

The short answer is no. Conversions don’t (directly) affect search engine rankings.

The long answer is: SEO and website conversions complement one another. So you might as well pretend like organic search performance depends on your ability to convert.

When you have a high-quality website with great content, what happens?

  • People spend more time on it (a direct ranking factor)
  • They share it with others (a direct ranking factor)
  • They link to it (a direct ranking factor)
  • They search for it more often (a direct ranking factor)

Conversion rate optimization means that these people giving you SEO value will eventually BUY from you. And when they do…

  • They’ll leave glowing reviews (a direct ranking factor)
  • They’ll come back to your website (a direct ranking factor)
  • They’ll trust your site over others when searching for terms you’re competing on (a direct ranking factor)

…assuming you have a great product, of course.

This creates a positive feedback loop where you become increasingly credible and authoritative, which means you’ll rank higher and convert more search engine users.

See what I mean, here?

How to improve conversions from SEO

SEO conversions are the most valuable because, well, people trust Google.

Search engine users are far likelier to trust what the search engine results page shows them because they searched for it on their terms. When you run an ad, you’re interrupting them.

  • In the professional services industry, organic search conversions are more than 5% higher than paid channels.
  • B2B companies get 2x as much revenue from search engines as all their other marketing channels combined.
  • 70% to 80% of users ignore paid ads, and 7 in 10 marketers agree: SEO > PPC.

But, again, you won’t reap the benefits of SEO without conversion optimization.

Here are my conversion rate optimization best practices to live by:

1. Map out your conversion funnel.

Like I said, there are multiple types of conversions.

You have to map out the entire customer journey from finding your website to converting because there are multiple touchpoints in between.

This will vary dramatically depending on whether you’re selling direct-to-consumer or to other businesses.

  • DTC companies (like an ecommerce site) need to focus on product page SEO, direct response elements, and checkout pages for conversions.
  • B2B companies (say, a SaaS company) will focus on SaaS content marketing, lead generation, and sales/buyer enablement.

Think long and hard about how exactly a customer will use your website before becoming a paying customer. And think about how long it takes for them to do it.

  • Do they sign up for a newsletter, then buy 3 months later? Build a landing page that convinces them to.
  • Do you need their email before you market to them? Create gated or interactive content.
  • Do buyers use your content to conduct product research? Create content for commercial keywords like “best {Your Product Category} and “{Your Product} vs. {Competitor Product}.”
  • Do people know they have a problem, but are unaware of your solution? Target informational keywords like “how to {Problem You Solve}.”

Once you have a fundamental idea of what content and landing pages to focus on, you can take a targeted approach.

2. Look at your current conversions.

You want to see whether the money pages are bringing the results you want. Is that lead capture form getting you email subscribers? Are people booking demos from your blogs and landing pages?

You can use Google Analytics or Google Search Console to check this data.

In Google Analytics (GA4), it’s easy.

Within the interface, you can mark any event as a conversion, which means you can track every step of your conversion funnel.

Google Analytics 4 Conversion Tracking Guide - GA4 Goals - Optimize Smart

To avoid analysis paralysis, I recommend focusing on the pages contributing to the specific goals of your campaign — product pages, lead capture forms, main comparison pages, virtual demos, how-tos, etc.

I’d also recommend looking at your conversion metrics from organic search, specifically. That way, you know how effectively you’re targeting relevant keywords.

In Search Console, choose the ‘Landing Pages’ report from the menu.

This will show you the basic GA4 engagement metrics like CTR, Pages per Session, and Bounce Rate.

It’ll also give you the conversion data you’re looking for.

3. Diagnose the technical problems.

Once you know which pages aren’t performing well, you can start looking into why they aren’t. Normally, it boils down to UI elements.

Here are some common problems I see:

  • Forms with too many fields
  • No clear call-to-action (CTA)
  • Too much going on in the page layout
  • Slow load time

You can figure out the basic problems using a Core Web Vitals report. To do this, run a PageSpeed Insights test.

It’ll give you an overview of its three main performance metrics: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) — and how the page stacks up to Google’s Core Web Vitals evaluation.

It’ll also diagnose the problems below the scroll.

And it’ll include suggestions for improvements.

Those are the technical fixes you should consider making to make your site more SEO- and conversion-friendly.

4. Optimize for mobile.

On mobile devices, other issues crop up. Remember: more than half of searches happen on mobile!

So, what works on desktop may not work on mobile.

  • Is the CTA visible when viewing your content horizontally?

You can check this using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool in Search Console (or just by visiting your site from a smartphone yourself).

  • Are all images optimized for mobile?

This means their file size is right, and they’re responsive.

  • How does your website’s navbar look on a mobile device?

Are there too many items visible in your dropdown menu because it doesn’t collapse correctly?

You’ll want to go one step further, and make sure the user experience (UX) is perfect.

  • Is the page easy to navigate through to conversion?

This includes making buttons that are big enough for any-sized fingers to click and having clear imagery.

  • Is your checkout process seamless on mobile?

It should feel like you’re using a smartphone app.

5. Find what’s wrong with your UI.

Technical fixes like those above are only the first step, though. They’re the basics.

If you want to know how to improve a particular page (regardless of its technical performance), you need to know how people use it.

That’s what heatmapping tools are for. A heatmap will tell you where people are clicking, how long they stay on the page, and how far down they scroll.

Mini-surveying tools like HotJar let you ask questions of your visitors while they’re still on your website.

The most valuable insights come from recordings, though.

Along with heatmaps, they show you what individual users did. You’ll be able to see how they used your page, where they clicked or tapped, and at what point many of them left.

By auditing the entire funnel with these tools, you’ll be able to see exactly what’s wrong and fix it. Plus, you’ll know where to put your most important content.

6. Test everything.

Believe it or not, changing something like CTA button placement or a simple color scheme can make a big difference.

Even if you have the most life-changing content in the world, it’s the bright orange button against the navy-blue background that’ll get you the final ~click~.

So how do you find the most effective layout, design, or copy for your website?

You can use an A/B testing tool like Zoho Pagesense or VWO to compare different versions of your page and see which performs better in terms of conversions.

Keep in mind that it’s not always about big changes — sometimes, small tweaks can make a big impact on conversion rates.

Improve your SEO, improve your ROI.

Making all these on-page improvements will directly impact your conversion rate, SEO or otherwise. 

Once you’ve got CRO down, connecting the dots between search engine performance and on-site conversions is up to you.

I promise you…it’s a lot easier to have someone do that for you.

Brittney Fred, SEO Analyst
Brittney has been working in SEO and digital marketing for ten years and specializes in content strategy for the B2B SaaS industry. She is based in Denver, CO and absolutely fits the Denverite stereotype. You’re just as likely to find her hiking, snowboarding, or doing yoga as reading sci-fi or playing video games.