If you’ve been in SEO for any amount of time, chances are you’ve ran into others who just don’t seem to geek out about 404s, redirects, backlinks, spiders, canonicals, and indexing the way you do. Instead, when you discuss any on of these elements in public, you probably just get a blank, confused look in return.
This is pretty standard, but when you’re getting that same look from the decision makers in your company, that may be more of a problem.
SEO is an important component to any business’s success. Many small business owners and CEOs, however, are often uninformed and uneasy about diving into SEO. They know that they need it, but they don’t know how it works or understand the great time commitment and value of it.
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 Understand the Terminology
Every field has its own industry jargon. The SEO industry isn’t any different. The same way your eyes glaze over when the accountants start getting excited about their extensive spreadsheets, someone from another department will easily get lost when you start busting out the industry lingo.
Coming into the SEO conversation with this realization will help you lay a good starting point.
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. Explain Exactly Why You’re Taking a Certain Course of Action
SEO involves a lot of work that happens behind the scenes and doesn’t often yield instant results.
Many people in business have a hard time trusting SEO because it doesn’t deliver the kind of results they want in their desired timeframe. It can be difficult to convince the boss of your proposed course of action when there is a lack of tangible benchmarks and no set timeframes.
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?
Well, since you’re an SEO professional, you know all the reasons why duplicate content is a bad idea. And when they ask about it, you could fall back on the old standby reasoning: “Because Google hates it.” But that’s not enough to satisfy your boss’s need for 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 less questions when you pre-load them with the right answers.
3. Craft the Right Explanation for the Audience
Depending on the size of your organization, you may have regular meetings with a variety of audiences. People from the IT department to the marketing department to the executive office will want to know what’s going on and why SEO matters.
People in IT would like to know the technical details as well as any fixes or bugs that need to be worked out. The marketing department would be more interested in how SEO is attracting the right audience to the website, and the executive leadership will likely care less about what your SEO plan is, as long as it boosts the company’s bottom line.
For example, a meeting with IT personnel may entail how certain technical implementations will be needed to make 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. Document, Document, Document
When talking to others who don’t know much about SEO, you may get a lot of blank stares and sarcastic remarks. For all they know, you could just be taking advantage of their ignorance and making things up.
This is why you need documentation and data to back up your SEO strategy, your reports, and your claims of success. Again, it is important to focus on particular metrics that would be most beneficial and interesting to the audience. Keep your explanation simple and limit SEO jargon.
5. Build Your Personal and Your SEO Credibility
It can be difficult to prove the power of SEO to executives. It can also be just as difficult for you to be taken seriously.
How do you build your own credibility so that leadership will listen to you?
It begins by being a leader in your department. Write articles on behalf of the company, answer questions customers may have in the company’s website content, and provide valuable industry resources, such as how-to guides.
Record conversion data from organic search traffic and equate those numbers to revenue. Get set up on Google Analytics and Google’s Search Console, so you can monitor 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. Compile a list of 5-10 competitors who are currently beating your company for the top 10 keywords and show what 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.
How CEOs See SEO
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, they just care about the company’s bottom line.
Some CEOs have some knowledge of SEO and understand how it basically works. It is still a good idea to rein in your zealous enthusiasm and spare them of all the stats and numbers. You can touch on the SEO topics they are familiar with, but avoid the urge to go too deep. As much as they may be interested, they have busy schedules and want to know if the resources going to SEO is paying off.
The best way to deal with this is to agree on some clear key performance indicators before the campaign even starts. Since SEO takes time, monthly check-in meetings are also good ideas to keep leadership informed and reassured that you are gradually but consistently moving toward those KPIs.
It can be hard to get support for an SEO initiative. It can also be frustrating communicating with others who don’t understand the nature and workings of the search engines. Knowing your audience, proving 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.