Evangelizing SEO Executives SEO Career

Selling SEO To the C-suite

Woman ginger climbing a ladder, blue/pink background

If you’ve spent any time as an in-house SEO, you know how difficult it can be to get buy-in for an enterprise SEO program. In many ways, it’s because SEOs tend to not speak the right “hreflang-uage” when it comes to advocating for their projects and getting approval from the C-suite.

The reality is it’s not the C-suite’s job to understand the ins and outs of technical and content SEO. It’s an SEO’s responsibility to sell them on the benefits and impact of organic search on the bottom line, why it’s a powerful performance channel, and prove that it can be an efficient lever for sustainable business growth. With more than half of website traffic coming from organic search, it’s mission-critical that SEO projects and priorities align to business goals and outcomes. However, that often requires an in-house SEO to get strategic approval that goes beyond just a content strategy or a JavaScript change. 

When it comes to organizational buy-in, there are a few tips you can use to step up your salesmanship game to get the resources and budget to make a massive impact. This method works whether you are the director of marketing or an SEO specialist just cutting their teeth in the industry.

Speak the Language of the C-Suite And Align to Stakeholder Goals

Do you know what 90 percent of executives care about? 

Not hreflang, that’s for sure.

Instead, they are interested in creating a profitable business, satisfying shareholders (or other stakeholders they report to), and other business priorities that transcend beyond performance marketing tactics. Your responsibility is to help them understand the business value of organic search and its return on investment, and sometimes that means speaking their language.

Before scheduling a meeting to pitch your projects, remember they are trying to set strategies that will impact many different areas of the company. Whether you’re speaking to the CFO who is focused on reducing costs and maximizing budgets or the CRO who is primarily looking to achieve revenue targets, the more you can do to connect your role to their priorities, the more appealing your project will be.

Ask yourself:

  • Does my request tie into other initiatives going on in the organization?
    • Ex. If your organization is in the middle of a major rebranding, consider how SEO can play a role. What do your current branded keyword results look like?
  • Does my project support larger business objectives?
    • Ex. Will fixing some JavaScript issues also improve some cart checkout issues that customers have been experiencing and in turn, overtaxing customer service? 
  • Does my project have a clear roadmap to success that isn’t overly technical?
    • Ex. Are there milestones and deliverables that make sense – like “Final Code Deployment” or “Copy Written?”

“Learn to identify what is valuable to each and every SEO audience, then how to effectively communicate how SEO can help them reach THEIR objectives and goals. SEOs who master the art of business communication are the ones who will earn the resources, the nice titles, and the big paychecks.” – Ren Lacerda, Head of SEO at CarMax

When presenting your ideas, assume none of your stakeholders are SEOs or have any knowledge of how the marketing channel works: that’s why they hired you. Education is an important part of any presentation, but it’s always important to keep it high level and provide just enough detail for it to resonate. 

Focus on how SEO can directly connect potential customers to your business. Talk about the psychology behind user intent and how it can inform product development or how SEO is an evergreen marketing play that pays dividends for the business over time. Highlight the long-term impact on the business’ bottom line. A full SEO strategy – including alignment on both content and technical SEO throughout the organization – sets up a performance marketing strategy that’s both profitable and sustainable. Focusing on that instead of just SERPs is a big part of your role in “managing up” SEO.

“If you want to grow in your current role, become more effective at accomplishing key SEO projects, and level up your career, the most important thing you can do is tie your efforts to business value.” Jordan Silton, Senior Director, SEO & Analytics at CoStar Group

Tying Organic Search to Conversions and Revenue

In addition to speaking the language of the C-Suite, you need to tie your SEO efforts to the larger business KPIs. If you are focusing on vanity metrics like SERP position, traffic, or amount of content published, you aren’t thinking about how SEO fits into the larger picture of your company. 

It’s that kind of thinking that keeps SEO in the background of most organizations. 

You can drive thousands of sessions to blog or content pages, but that traffic may not be valuable if you aren’t able to assign real value to it. To show the power and impact of SEO, you need to think about the KPIs that matter most to your company, like:

  • Lead quality
  • Long term value of a customer
  • Assisted conversions from Google Analytics 
  • Average cart value
  • Engagement 
  • Average value of an organic session
  • Customer retention
  • Funnel conversion rates

Most of these numbers aren’t something an SEO can readily find in a tool like Google Analytics. It requires you to talk to your business intelligence (BI) team to truly understand the impact your traffic and conversions have on your business. 

For example, If you can determine that an organic visitor who signed up for your newsletter is worth X dollars based on how likely that user is to convert for your product, you can better demonstrate the value of SEO. The only way you would be able to get to that estimation is through understanding the value of an organic visitor signing up for your newsletter.

A good starting point is using Google Analytics reporting with assisted conversions applied to show how specific URLs on your site impact your other marketing efforts by taking the following steps:

  1. Login to Google Analytics
  2. Navigate to Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions
  3. Choose the “Organic Search”
  4. Filter the “Goal” you want to track
  5. Filter the dates at the top to see the date range you want for both actual date range, and the date range of the first customer interaction (90-30 days typically before conversion)
  6. Isolate the URLs you want to track by adding a “Secondary Dimension.”

This will give you a very clear idea of how much revenue the pages in question helped generate, not just through organic search, but through all of your digital marketing channels. That allows you to make the argument that the SEO investment your organization has made doesn’t just directly convert, but also has a measurable impact in the context of the entire marketing ecosystem. 

If you can tie your SEO initiatives to the larger business picture, you won’t be struggling to get resources or prioritization for future initiatives.

Context, not Content is Key.

Now that you have all the context you need to go win the support of your stakeholders, what are you waiting for? Start that presentation or take notes today on what you need to do differently to be an agent of change in your organization. As the leader of SEO in your organization, it’s your job to implement a winning SEO strategy from technical improvements to content creation.

Botify is the enterprise SEO solution designed to help professionals like you easily prioritize SEO projects and quickly show the value across the entire search process. From diagnosing JavaScript errors to discovering new opportunities to enhance search results through content improvements, Botify is the performance marketing platform specifically designed for SEOs to earn a seat at the decision-making table. 

Want to learn more? Request a demo today.

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