20 Nov 2019

How to Sell Your Boss on SEO

Having done SEO for several years, I run into people all the time who aren’t always thinking about 404s, redirects, backlinks, spiders, canonicals, and indexing like we do. Talking about this stuff in public will get a confused looking person with their eyes glazing over.

That’s typical, but when you get the same blank stare from the decision-maker at your company,  this could be a bigger issue.

SEO is a crucial part of any company’s success. Lots of CEOs and small business owners are really under-educated and nervous about SEO. They know they need it, but they don’t understand how SEO works or get the time commitment it takes or the value it brings.

Whether you work for an agency or an in-house marketing team, trying to convince executives to bolster their SEO budget can be a good challenge. There are some simple tricks, though, that can help you communicate the importance of SEO and the reasoning behind your tactics and choices.

1.  Help Them Learn SEO Terminology

Many fields have their own industry jargons,  SEO too, no exceptions. The same way you start nodding off when accountants get excited about massive spreadsheets, somebody from another department will lose you when you start talking in industry buzzwords.

Don’t be like these guys! “NO BRANDCUFFS!” 😀

Starting a conversation with this in mind is a great way to start.

Take time to teach and educate your audience about the basics of SEO and clearly define any and all jargon terms. Clarifying, defining and discussing relevant metrics can also be handy in helping your audience get a better grasp of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

2.  Describe Exactly Why You’re Taking a Certain Plan of Action

SEO involves lots of hard work that happens behind the scenes and often, it doesn’t bring overnight results.

Lots of people in the business world have trouble trusting SEO since the results don’t seem to come in their desired timeframe. It can be challenging convincing your bosses to take your recommendations without a set timeframe or concrete benchmarks.

As you explain why you chose to do something or why you made a certain decision, try to keep the overall big picture or goal in mind and to explain both what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

For example, if you discovered an epidemic of duplicate content on the site, you might immediately set about rewriting the content or redirecting unneeded pages the ones you want to focus on. Your boss may then question you about that. After all, why not leave those pages alone because the more content – even duplicate content – is just more exposure, right?

And because you’re knowledgeable on SEO – you know about how duplicate content doesn’t help your site. And when they discuss it with you, you could say ” well Google doesn’t like it.” but you need to explain more to get your boss the right information.

Instead, explain a little more about how Google works, how the same content would literally compete with itself on the search engines, and all the other reasons beyond “Google doesn’t like it.” They’ll have fewer questions when you pre-load them with the right answers.

3.  Craft the Right Message for the Right Audience

Depending on how large your organization is, maybe you have regular meetings with lots of different departments. Employees from marketing and the IT department, all the way up to the c-suite are going to have questions about what’s happening and why SEO is important.

Someone from IT would like to know the technical issues as well as any bugs or fixes that need working out. The marketing department would be more interested in how SEO is attracting the right people to your site, and the CEO will likely care less about what your SEO plan is, as long as it boosts the company’s bottom line.

If you want higher buy-in and support for your SEO plan, you need to relate to your audience. Then you can craft your presentation in a way that “speaks their language.”

For example, a meeting with IT department may detail which technical implementation is necessary for making the website more mobile-friendly. A similar meeting with leadership may involve discussions about the time and resources that your SEO plan will need, the opportunities that it will open up, and the potential ROI that can result should the plan be successful.

4.  Collect Data

When you speak to people who aren’t educated about SEO, you might get a weird stare or sarcasm. They may think you could be making stuff up to take advantage of their ignorance.

That’s why data and documentation to back up your  SEO strategies, your SEO wins, and your reports. Again, you should always be remembering to focus on the kind of metrics that would be most beneficial and interesting to the audience. Keep your explanation simple and limit SEO jargon.

5.  Increase Your SEO & Personal Credibility

It can be hard, proving the power of SEO to a CEO. It can also be just as difficult for them to take you seriously.

How do you improve your own credibility so your leadership listens to you?

It begins with leading your department. Answer questions customers may have in the company’s website content, write articles on behalf of your company, and become a valuable industry resource by providing educational content like a how-to guide.

Like I said above, you’ll need to be documenting all of these things to show how your SEO effort helps by contributing to an increase in the company’s bottom line. To accomplish this, you may try things like:

Record conversion data from organic search traffic and tie that number to company earnings. Setup Google Webmaster Search Console & Google Analytics, for monitoring revenue from contact forms and e-commerce, which will speak to leadership and the marketing department.

Report on how you are doing compared to competitors. Create a list of 3-10 competitors who are currently beating your company for your most important keywords and show them the average monthly search volume of those keywords or terms are. Showing these lost opportunities can be enough to spur any executive to bolster and support your SEO efforts.

5.  How Your SEO Sees SEO

Several company executives realize that SEO is a critical part of their company’s success. However, they may not know or care to know how SEO works.

That’s why they want someone to do it for them.

However, you can geek out on them all day long about how this or that is doing great and blowing the competition out of the water, and they just won’t seem to get on board with your enthusiasm.

Again, all they care about is company revenue.

Sometimes CEO’s know about SEO and get the basics on how it works. You should still refrain from getting overzealous and spare them the numbers and statistics. You can communicate via SEO topics they know about, but fight the urge to go really deep. Maybe they’re interested, however, they’re super busy and their primary concern is whether their investment in SEO is worth it.

The best way to do this is agreeing on some indicators of success and performance ahead of time before the campaign gets started. Because SEO takes time,  bi-monthly reporting meetings are great for keeping leaders in the know, reassuring them that you’re moving towards those goals.

It can be challenging getting buy-in for SEO initiatives. It can also be frustrating trying to communicate with people who don’t know the nature and challenges of working on getting sites to rank. Know your audience, prove the value of SEO, and always using data to back-up the successes of your strategy are some ways these difficult and frustrating conversations can become more successful.

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