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Ask An SEO Expert – Check Out Conversion Rate

November 3rd, 2012

by Emily Burgett

It takes a lot of work to optimize ecommerce sites in order for Google to want to send users to it. There are many competitors that offer a very similar product and use similar tactics to attract customers that need to be weeded out. What happens if you’ve done all of that work and you’re getting an increase in traffic, but that traffic is not converting at a rate you had hoped?

In this week’s Ask An SEO Expert feature, Jesse Laffen discusses whether or not a low conversion rate can affect how valuable Google perceives your ecommerce site to be. If you would like more advice on how to optimize your website, check out this webinar series on increasing conversions for your ecommerce site.

Do you have an SEO question that you would like to have answered? Simply submit your question on our website or via Twitter by using the hashtag #AskAnSEOExpert.


Ask An SEO ExpertHere’s a question I really like. Do you think a low check out conversion rate can affect your listing? First of all, I really like this question because there are so many synergies between conversion rate optimization and SEO. It’s really, really hard to do one of them really, really well and not really get into the other one some. I mean, what are you going to do with all that traffic when it gets to your site, right? You want to convert it.

So, awesome question, let’s tackle this. The answer is yes and no. That’s not a cop out. I’ll tell you why. The first reason is that Google likes to employ people to look at websites. I know that kind of sounds maybe weird or random but they do. They want to return really good websites in their search results. What better way to do that than to A: take a look at some of the data that their users are actually performing on and their other properties? Then two: actually sit people down at a desk, thousands and thousands of people looking at thousands of websites and say, ”What do you like about this? Why did you perform that action? Why is this good content, but this isn’t?”

In a way, certain search engine signals that Google and Bing might be using are kind of parallel to maybe some of the reasons why your website isn’t checking out or converting at the rate at which you would like it to. So for example, Google had a recent page layout algorithm update that kind of looked at the way that your page was put together and it decided, “All right, maybe this isn’t quite the right quality content.”

Really, really likely that they took data from their user set, who are actually looking at those websites and said, “All right, 95% of the people don’t like these ads over here or just don’t like the way there’s a 37 step checkout process. That’s weird to us. We don’t want return sites like that.” So, that’s one actual concrete way that Google might be doing this. Again, they’re not necessarily looking at your conversion rate, but they are measuring things that are parallel to a reason why your conversion rate might be low.

There are also these ideas of Google wants to return pages with a great user experience. So, maybe your page isn’t converting because your content is really thin. All that might be another thing that Google is measuring that maybe your rankings are as good as you’d want them to. Maybe you don’t have a product that people are searching for a lot. That could be a reason why you’re not converting well, just low awareness.

That’s something that Google could look at data for and say, “All right, whenever we have somebody typing in these searches, they’re typically looking for these other things. That’s what gets all of the clicks on that SERP.” It doesn’t mean it’s the best product. It just could mean that the brand awareness or the product awareness isn’t quite there. So, maybe, some of those signals are kind of missing.

So, there are a lot of different things about your conversion rate that Google can measure. But they’re not necessarily going into your analytics and saying, “All right, well both these sites sell blue widgets, but this site over here converts at 2% and this one over here converts at 2.1%. So, I’m going to rank this one higher.” There’s nothing that we’ve seen that would indicate that’s happening.

Google is very adamant that they don’t do things like that. But I think that there are a lot of synergies from a ranking factor, like signals, criteria that are going into this. The reason why, is because Google does, at the end of the day, again, they want to return relevant search results.

If you have a great website that people love to use and they love to come there and buy from you, that’s a great thing. Google should want to rank that website. So, I think those are some of the ways in which your conversion rate and your search results, or your actual rankings, could be correlated but not caused by one or the other.

Emily Burgett

Marketing Coordinator at Slingshot SEO, Emily Burgett is a Marketing Coordinator at Slingshot SEO.

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