Are you tasked with convincing your higher-ups to give you the green light (and funding) to implement an SEO strategy?
If so, you may run into a snag.
While search engine optimization is a popular topic amongst digital marketers, it’s less understood by C-suite executives and stakeholders.
SEO tactics are undoubtedly effective, with 61% of B2B marketers reporting that SEO (and the organic traffic it generates) drive more leads than any other marketing channel.
Then there’s the fact that 70% of digital marketers claim SEO is more effective than PPC (pay-per-click) ads for generating sales.
While these types of stats are common knowledge for marketers, the chances are high that your executives have never heard of them. Not only that, but they may need to learn what SEO work looks like.
As such, you’ll need to do a lot of educating and convincing to obtain SEO buy-in from your leaders.
That means sharing SEO success stories, case studies, statistics, and SEO-related KPIs to get your executives on board.
Not only that, but you’ll want to lay out a detailed timeline for your SEO strategy, including when your stakeholders can expect to see an ROI.
Since you’ve got such a daunting task on your hands, we’ve put together this guide to getting SEO buy-in from your C-suite executives. Read on to learn how to compile a rock-solid case for implementing SEO at your company.
Top Challenges Surrounding SEO Buy-In
Many C-level executives don’t understand SEO, which leads many digital marketers to have to fight for every cent they get to allocate toward it.
Most executives are concerned with what will affect their bottom line above all else. As a result, they tend to favor paid search ads, as they’re the fastest way to climb to the top of the search engine rankings.
While that is certainly true, PPC ads are more of a short-term game. After all, you lose all your rankings and momentum when you stop paying for them.
SEO efforts boast long-term benefits, as you’ll retain any rankings you acquire without having to pay for them. As a result, SEO has a compounding effect, where your past efforts continue to generate traffic, leads, and conversions.
SEO takes a notoriously long time to start showing returns.
In fact, it can take up to 4 – 12 months to start showing a profit from your efforts, which presents a serious challenge for obtaining buy-in.
Most executives won’t want to hear that it will take that long before you see an ROI, so you’ll need to focus on obtaining quick wins and the exponential benefits of being patient.
Also, a lack of education surrounding SEO is part of the problem for some executives, so you’ll want to do what you can to change that during your pitch.
What’s Most Important to Your Leaders?
To gain SEO buy-in, it’s a good idea to hone in on what matters most to each executive in the C-suite.
In other words, what makes your leaders tick? What type of metrics or SEO initiatives would get them the most excited?
To give you an idea of what we’re talking about, here’s a quick summary of what most C-level executives find appealing in marketing pitches.
Most CEOs are results-driven, so you’ll want to hammer home the benefits they’ll see as a result of your SEO campaign. Above all else, they’ll want to know why they should invest in SEO and how long it will take to see an ROI.
It’s best to be completely honest here, but don’t forget to mention quick wins.
While most of your SEO tactics will take at least six months to gain traction, SEO quick wins can provide traffic boosts within as little as a week.
What are quick wins?
There are a few types of quick wins, but the term most commonly refers to ‘striking distance’ keywords. These are keywords that you’re already ranking for, just not on page one or in the top 10.
Well, with some much-needed optimization (technical SEO tweaks, proper keyword usage, backlinks, etc.), you can move up to a top spot in a few weeks instead of months, enjoying a boost in traffic as a result.
CEOs will also want to know the main KPIs you’ll use during the SEO campaign, so don’t forget to include them (more on KPIs in a bit).
Let your CEO know how SEO will positively impact your conversion rate, website traffic, reputation, and brand awareness. At the same time, point out how the company will miss out on all these perks if you either ignore SEO or don’t allocate enough money toward it.
Your CFO will primarily be concerned with the marketing costs associated with an SEO campaign. As a result, winning them over will take a well-thought-out budget.
At the same time, be upfront with how much it will take to achieve your goals, including how long it will take to start seeing an ROI.
It’s best not to sugarcoat things here, as the last thing you want is to run out of funding in the middle of a content marketing campaign. As such, let your CFO know how much it will take to maximize your SEO success.
While they may cringe at how much it will take to see results, remind them of the compounding effect of SEO content.
Once you start to rise through the rankings, it’ll become far easier to maintain a top spot once you acquire it. That means you can let your foot off the gas after around 12 months, and your spending will drastically decrease as well.
It’s also wise to bring up SEO quick wins with CFOs to let them know that it’s possible to recoup some marketing costs before you start gaining serious traction.
Your CFO will appreciate it if you come prepared, so it’s a good idea to compare prices from SEO agencies beforehand. That way, you’ll already know which agency will provide you with the best deal.
Or, if you plan on handling your SEO in-house, you can include a comparison table illustrating how much money you’ll save by doing so.
CMOs are all about operational tactics, so they’ll want to know everything about your SEO strategy. In particular, they’ll want to know who will be involved and what processes will go into it.
Not only that, but they’ll want to know how many qualified leads you can generate through SEO. Don’t be shy about the fact that lead generation is one of SEOs strongest selling points.
You can mention this study from 2020, which discovered that leads generated through organic SEO efforts show greater loyalty and engagement than those generated through paid ads.
CMOs will likely want to know what your competitors are up to as well.
Take a peek at your top competitors’ websites, and see how well they rank on Google search for keywords related to your niche.
Why is this important?
It is because if there’s anything C-level suite executives love, it’s outdoing the competition. As a result, competitors performing well and generating leads from SEO will serve as a fantastic motivator to gain SEO buy-in from your leaders – as they’ll be eager to compete.
CMOs and brand exposure
Last but not least, your CMO will want to know how SEO will impact brand exposure.
You should be rubbing your hands together in anticipation of this one, as SEO is fantastic for widening your reach and influence.
Through content marketing combined with clever keyword research, you can establish your brand as a thought leader in your field, which will build customer loyalty like crazy.
A common tactic is to research some problems and pain points plaguing your target audience and then create content that teaches how to solve them.
For example, if you provide home renovations for your customers, you can create a blog or video content centered around topics like:
- How to spot mold and mildew in your home
- The best ways to maximize space in your living room
- How to find the best general contractors in your area
- Undermount vs. drop-in sinks
These are all content topics that your audience will find helpful, and they’ll appreciate that you educated them.
As such, the next time they have a question about home renovations, your website will be the first one they visit. CMOs will eat that kind of stuff up, so don’t forget to mention it.
Tips for Getting SEO Buy-in From the Entire Company
Now that you know more about what your C-suite wants to hear about implementing SEO services, it’s time to learn some candid tips for getting everyone at your company on board with your SEO projects.
After all, you’ll find more success if everyone on your team is aligned and has faith in your SEO strategy.
Otherwise, you may run into resistance from key players beyond the C-suite, such as your in-house writers, graphic designers, and digital marketers. If you’re handling SEO yourself, these employees will form your SEO team, so it’s imperative that they’re bought in as well.
Tip #1: Educate the company on the importance of SEO
A significant problem facing SEO buy-in is the lack of knowledge surrounding it outside of digital marketing circles.
In fact, many executives and associates won’t even know what the acronym SEO stands for, so it’s up to you to do some educating.
There’s also the common misconception that SEO and organic traffic are entirely free, which couldn’t be further from the truth. While you don’t have to pay whenever someone clicks on one of your links, SEO takes time, money, and effort, no matter how you slice it.
Rising to the top of Google and other search engines takes:
- A consistent content release schedule
- Link-building tactics such as acquiring backlinks
- Regular SEO audits
- Technical SEO tweaks
- In-depth keyword research
- Lots of monitoring and analyzing data
As you can see, an SEO strategy involves lots of work that takes a team of people working around the clock to achieve.
It’s crucial that your company is aware of this fact to acquire enough of a budget for your SEO campaign.
Your goal should be that everyone at your company knows the answer to the following questions:
What is SEO? How can it help our business? What role do I play in our SEO strategy?
If your team can answer these three questions with ease, you’re doing it right.
Tips for educating your team
Here are some quick tips for educating your staff on the basics of SEO and why it matters:
- Be vocal at meetings. Don’t be afraid to speak up about SEO during marketing meetings, as they’re one of the only times that the entire team is together in the same room. Educate everyone on the importance of SEO and what it takes to see results.
- SEO training sessions. This is an imperative step for your SEO team. Bring all your writers, designers, and editors together for dedicated training sessions where they learn SEO best practices.
- Lunch and learn. You can also educate your staff while they eat with lunch and learn meetings. You can introduce concepts like link-building and keyword research while also sharing SEO quick wins and other updates.
- SEO onboarding. It’s also a good idea to include SEO education as part of the onboarding process for new employees, especially those directly impacting your SEO campaign.
These are all reliable ways to educate your team on not only the importance of SEO but also the techniques involved with it. Before you know it, your team will consist of tried and true SEO experts, which is what you want.
Tip #2: Share a clear action plan
Once everyone is educated on SEO and why it’s worth the investment, you’ll need to lay out a clear action plan to put your strategy into place.
How do you do that?
The best way to do so is to lay out a 12-month action plan for your campaign. Your action plan should include a budget, all the required personnel, and a detailed content calendar.
To find success with SEO, you’ll need to release content for your target audience steadily.
Posting blogs one to four times a week will help you gain traction online, and it’s all about consistency.
Blogs shouldn’t comprise the entirety of your content strategy, though. While they should be the cornerstone of your content releases, you should also pepper in the following:
Video content is a must in today’s age, and you don’t have to go broke to produce it. Instead, it’s possible to create high-quality, viral videos only using a smartphone and basic editing software.
Why bother with video content?
You should because the average internet user devotes 33% of their time online watching videos, and 54% of consumers state they want to see more video content from the brands they support.
It’s also easier for consumers to sit and watch a brief video instead of reading a lengthy blog post. That’s especially true if the goal of your content is to teach users how to do something.
With a detailed roadmap for how you plan on achieving your goals, it’ll become far easier to gain SEO buy-in from your leaders and employees.
Tip #3: Share Essential SEO KPIs
Your CEO and employees will want to know how you plan on measuring the success of your SEO efforts.
Enter SEO key performance indicators, which will serve as the way you measure your effectiveness going forward.
Here’s a quick list of the most critical SEO KPIs.
Your C-suite will definitely want to know how your SEO efforts are affecting your conversion rate. Google Analytics will provide the metrics you need here, but you’ll need a benchmark.
After all, how will you know that your conversion rates are increasing if you don’t have a benchmark to compare it to?
To gain this benchmark, calculate the average amount of conversions you saw within a three-month period BEFORE starting your SEO strategy. That will let you know how much your efforts have improved conversion rates.
A significant benefit of SEO is getting your brand’s name in front of the masses, which is also known as organic visibility.
To measure this KPI, take a look at your total number of impressions in Google Search Console. If your impressions are on the rise, it’s a sign that you’re increasing your organic visibility, which is a great sign.
Return on investment
Lastly, SEO’s ROI tends to be the most valuable KPI, as it lets you know how much money your SEO efforts are generating compared to how much you spent on it.
As such, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your ROI, especially as you approach 6 – 12 months.
To calculate your ROI, measure how much you spent on SEO against how much revenue is generated via leads and conversions. If you aren’t seeing a return after six months or so, it’s a sign you need to go back to the drawing board and tweak your strategy.
Final Thoughts: SEO Buy-In
While SEO is an incredibly effective marketing channel, convincing your higher-ups to invest in it is an uphill battle.
That’s because there’s a lot of confusion surrounding SEO outside of the digital marketing space. Not only that, but the amount of time it takes for SEO to start working also raises the eyebrows of C-suite executives.
Yet, with proper education and strategizing, you can successfully convey the benefits of SEO to your leaders while obtaining the budget you need to make your goals a reality.
Do you not have in-house staff to focus on an SEO strategy?
Then you need to drop everything and check out our renowned managed SEO services at HOTH X. Our team of SEO gurus will work tirelessly to implement a winning SEO strategy at your company, so don’t wait to reach out today.