This happens way, way more often than you would think. We start out with a client, and we start seeing all their KPIs trending in the right direction, but their organic conversion rate keeps going down. Why does this happen? Is it bad? Should I be worried? Is it eventually going to go back in the 'right' direction? Let's discuss:
So to recap, here are the big points we hit.
Why Would My Organic Conversion Rate Go Down?
Because SEO. When we start working with most clients, especially clients who have either never done SEO, or only had limited success, there's usually only a small handful of keywords they're ranking highly for, and a small number of pages attracting organic traffic. Optimizing your website will change that in two ways:
- If you're creating useful content, then that content will likely attract organic traffic. However, things like blog posts, infographics and resources pages tend to be top-of-funnel touch-points. This means that, while they're attracting valuable traffic, they're likely to attract traffic that's further from converting.
- Doing content marketing and link building will help improve your Domain Authority, which in turn, will help all the pages on your site rank better.
But Why Does Ranking Better Decrease Conversions?
Ranking better doesn't necessarily decrease your organic conversion rate. Rather, ranking better for top-of-funnel keywords is going to drive down your site-wide organic conversion rate. To quickly illustrate what I mean by 'top-of-funnel keywords', here's an example from my hypothetical cat furniture e-commerce retailer. With a typical new client, or any SEO neophyte, a disproportionately large percentage of their organic traffic comes from navigational search. But the reason you invest in SEO is to increase your revenue from organic traffic, which means doing things like:
- Using technical and on-page SEO, as well as link building, to improve your ranking for higher competition, lower volume "transactional" keywords.
- Adding pages to your site that target less competitive, higher volume "research" keywords.
- Adding awareness-level pages like blog posts, targeting "informational" queries.
Then Why Measure Organic Conversion Rate?
Good question, and the answer is...we usually don't. That isn't to say that organic conversion rate is never a useful metric. For example, if you're making updates to product pages, then measuring how those changes impact the page-level organic conversion rate can be well worth tracking. However, if you're just looking for a snapshot of how your SEO campaign is performing, it's better to look at the month-over-month or year-over-year movement in your organic conversion numbers. If you're interested in learning more about what measure, and how to measure it, check out our e-book