Blog & Insights

What is Conversion Optimization

Conversion Optimization is the process of converting visitors to customers. CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) often goes hand-in-hand with search engine optimization and search advertising, and we will take a closer look at CRO today.

The very foundation of conversion optimization is to get visitors to do what you want them to do on your site or page. If you are running an e-commerce business, the goal is almost always to get the visitor to make a purchase, but especially on other types of sites it can also involve things like signing up for newsletters, requesting a quote, or sometimes as much interaction as possible (if ad views are the goal).

How Do You Get Started with Conversion Optimization?

The first step for almost everyone who works with conversion optimization is to clearly define the objectives and determine how to measure them. It may sound extremely basic but let me use this site as an example. We generally want the site to generate more clients with larger budgets. However, this is not exactly easy to measure, which is why we have broken it down to objectives that work better for us. We then define the goals as visitors who contact us, either via contact form, email or telephone.

A visitor who contacts us does not necessarily mean a new customer, but as soon as they have done so we have got an overview of who they are and what they want. Before they had done any of the three things mentioned above, we had no or very little idea of who the visitor actually is. We have therefore defined these three forms of contact as conversions.

Next Step – Making Decisions

The next step is to make decisions and choose a focus. Each visitor will first come a page on your site, a landing page. When the visitor reaches the landing page, what do you want them to do on the page and how will you make it easier for that to happen?

Let’s take a look at an example,, which is one of our own projects. In general, we want the visitor to shop for garden equipment in the store. On this specific page that we see in the picture, we want them to buy Gnistan. Now this is no conversion miracle, we have just started working on the conversion rate of Gardenhome and it is a process that takes time.

Based on the goals of the individual pages, the plan is set up. Start by familiarizing yourself with what is preventing the visitor from buying the product on that page – it is often a matter of removing obstacles. There may be many shortcomings, the page may not inspire the confidence required or perhaps it is unclear what you are expected to do on the page?

Usually one way forward is to remove unnecessary things, making it easy for the visitor to understand what you offer. Also, you have a bit of luck here; you don’t need to be spot on immediately, because you will have the opportunity to test this.

Tools for Conversion Optimization

Fortunately, there is a tool that enables you to proceed; otherwise we would all just grope in the dark. It’s all about A/B testing or multivariate testing. The idea behind A/B testing is simple: you show one version of the page for some visitors and another version for other visitors. Once you have reached a sufficient quantity you know which version works best. You then start with that in the next iteration. The multivariate testing is a bit smarter, as you can test more things at the same time. To perform these tests there are tools and we have two favourites among these:

Google Analytics Experiments

Visual Website Optimizer

Draw Conclusions Based on The Data

When you have the data for how the visitor reacts to your changes, you need to draw conclusions. Why is one page better at converting than the other? Can you develop this even further, or is there something else missing now? At this point, you need to go back to the planning stage – you have to understand what do with your new and more effectively converting page. What is missing that could further improve conversion?

Now you can iterate this process again and again. Make a plan, implement it, measure, and draw conclusions.

A Summary of The Method

Start by defining what you want to achieve. What is a conversion? The next step is to familiarize yourself with what the visitor needs to do, in order to do what you want them to do. Implement and test your thesis. Go back once again and look at the page when you have received the test results, implement and test once more. Continue.

How Is Conversion Optimization Related to Search Engine Optimization and Advertising?

In many of the steps when working with search engine optimization and keyword advertising, you need to keep the focus on conversion. It is easy to think that conversion optimization begins when the visitor arrives, but to be really effective it needs to start before that.

Think carefully about your keyword analysis. Consider a visitor who searched for ‘buy fire pit’ as in the example above. How big is the likelihood that the visitor actually buys the fire pit compared to someone who searched for ‘how to make a fire’? It is a somewhat extreme comparison, but every page in the search results above could be relevant for ‘what is a fire pit’ or ‘free fire pit’. None of those keywords would be as good at converting as ‘buy fire pit’.

Here you will also get better control of what is expected of each page on the site. With a properly implemented search engine optimization based on a keyword analysis, you will already know what the visitor is looking for on the specific page. You can also make sure that your offer is shown to the right people. For keyword advertising, this is vital. Here you test ads in the same way we talked about testing landing pages earlier. Which version offers the best conversion rate at the best price? That is the question you should constantly be asking.

CRO And SEO Are Not the Same Thing

Finally, there are those who insist that these disciplines are the same thing. CRO and SEO have many similarities, but the work itself is unconnected. Should building stadiums and playing hockey be part of the same job description, or do they each require specialist skills, so that it is unreasonable to think that the NHL guys should build their own ice hockey rinks?

Magnus Bråth


Magnus is one of the world's most prominent search marketing specialists and primarily works with management and strategy at his agency Brath AB.

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