SEO: Why you should fix your CRO before you work on your SEO with Luke Carthy (episode 099)

by April Buencamino-dy

Luke started his eCommerce career client side, then after being invited to speak at MozCon 2019 (oh yes!) he decided to go at it alone. He now spends his days helping his clients deliver sustainable eCommerce growth with SEO and CRO.

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Why Conversion Rate Optimization Comes First

You have a lot more control and influence over your own website, which makes CRO easier and faster to implement than getting search engines to rank your website.

Additionally, you have to increase your efforts and work harder to get those sales using SEO, versus capturing the same number of sales via CRO.

Luke also mentions that those who optimise CRO first will eventually have search engines ranking them higher because of better user experience. If your website is fast and easy to use, customers are happier and will spend more time there. This in turn will be rewarded by search engines.

Quick Wins

Luke gives us two easy ways to optimise our CRO:

  • With the right tools such as Screaming Frog or Sitebulb, you can scrape your entire site to identify categories that have zero products or that have a very small number of products. Combine that with the amount of traffic to identify how many people actually go to these categories, then either repopulate or move those categories around.
  • Analyze the category page itself as a template rather than specific categories. 

These are simple to do but can take a while to implement because category pages are typically the biggest template for acquiring traffic across an eCommerce site.

Category Pages

Asked if it’s necessary to have descriptions on category pages, Luke says yes because it helps to have content in categories.

Just think of key questions your customers might have relative to that category, and create valuable content out of these guide questions.

Doing CRO and SEO Together

Do an audit on your site first, and the results may have you repeating the work that you do because CRO and SEO are so closely knit together.

It’s a constant cycle and evolution, but Luke does recommend starting with CRO before going to SEO. Test your CRO, even though testing is the nemesis of SEO, and try to balance the two to meet your sales goals.

Google Analytics 4

Do one of these two things to cover the changes coming to Google:

  • Measure your data in both Google Analytics 3 and GA4 simultaneously.
  • Use other alternatives such as Plausible.

Watch Luke’s video on GA 4 to know more.

Insider Tips

If we’ve inspired someone to take their first step with SEO – what do they need to know to give themselves the best chance of success?

In the space of SEO, Luke’s tip is to have your faceted navigation under control, though this will not apply to you if you’re on Shopify.

Another piece of advice Luke has is to plan out your category structure because if you get it wrong, it’s difficult to change it. So make sure you get it right from the beginning.

Once you’ve started of course you’ve got to ‘keep optimising’! So what’s your favourite way to improve SEO performance?

To keep optimising, Luke says do one filter in Hotjar or whatever platform you use and let it be rage clicks.

While this is not an SEO tip, rage clicks show you where users repeatedly click on your website and can be signs of buttons that are not working, broken elements, or misleading content.

When you fix this, your conversion can improve.

If someone listening wants to learn more about SEO is there one cheap/free resource you’d recommend?

Luke recommends Traffic Think Tank, which gives you access to experts, content, resources, and even Q & A sessions.

It’s a paid membership, but worth the price for what it provides.

Crystal ball time – what’s coming up in the next 6-12 months that we should be getting ready for in SEO?

Transacting without actually having to touch an eCommerce store.

Shopify just launched their own link-in-bio tool, that can allow you to buy from a retailer using the shoppable links.

Interview Links

Luke on Social media:

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