How to Convince Your Executives The Value of SEO

Your C-Suite executives want to invest in SEO.

In fact, they want to allocate budget for every marketing channel capable of effectively driving leads and sales.

But you need to give them reasons to do so.

If you can prove to them, based on evidence and data, that SEO is an effective channel, they’ll likely go all in.

SEO alone can drive millions of monthly visits to any business, almost regardless of the industry the brand operates in.

It’s a marketing channel that clearly drives ROI — otherwise, SEO wouldn’t be the $80 billion industry it is today.

growth of seo

But many C-level execs still don’t think it is important enough to be a priority in their marketing budgets. So you’re tasked with convincing them that it’s worth making the investment. Their approval determines whether or not you’re able to get all the resources needed to execute your SEO strategy.

For example, you may need to hire an agency or increase your spending to ramp up your SEO efforts — but you won’t get to that step if your execs don’t think SEO should be prioritized  among the range of available marketing channels.

Here’s how to change that and convince your C-Suite executives that SEO belongs in their A-list of marketing channels.


1. First, you need to convince yourself

You need to arm yourself with data-backed examples of the value of SEO before pitching it to anyone else.

Find studies, real-life stories, and research that, beyond the shadow of any doubt, prove to you SEO drives bottom-line results for businesses like your organization — because that’s what your C-Suite will care about.

If they’re going to shell out thousands of dollars on SEO or provide you with any  other additional resources you need, they want to be sure it’s a channel that genuinely drives results for their type of business.

Your confidence that SEO drives ROI will significantly aid your pitch.

A simple Google search for SEO case study will get you thousands of success stories you can read, and cite as examples:

google serps

Whether you’re trying to convince your execs or clients SEO is worth their money, these stories will help sell you on the benefits of SEO to others.


2. Reveal why they need SEO right now

Every exec — from your CEO to CFO, VPs to Managers — has her own different questions about the impact of SEO.

They’re likely to ask:

“Why do we need it now?”

“Why don’t we revisit it next quarter and see if it’s still important for us?”

“Wouldn’t influencer marketing drive much better results than SEO?”

Executives ask questions like these when they’re considering investing in any marketing channel — in this case, SEO — and their different questions are based on their role in the organization:

  • The CEO cares about one thing: results
  • The CMO cares about two things: operation and results
  • The CFO cares about one thing: making the best use of money

To get a “yes” from each role within your executive leadership, tell them about key benefits that appeal to each of them first, and spend less time explaining the tactics you use to drive those benefits.

Show them why you’re rooting for SEO.

Here’s how to sell your CEO, CMO (or marketing manager), and CFO (or finance manager) on the benefits of SEO that appeals to each of them individually:

Note: These three executives might not be the only people in your C-Suite you’re looking to convince, but they’re usually the ones whose decisions matter the most to your SEO pitch. In much larger businesses, the CEO might not be involved in the decision, but the CMO and CFO usually are.

Convincing the CEO

Tell them how you’ve found — from your research or experience — that, executed properly, SEO can drive [enter specific results here] for their business. Show them examples. Preferably, look for studies that show how SEO drives results for businesses like theirs.

So if you’re in the drone industry, show them how a drone business is driving mouth-watering ROI every month through SEO.

You’ll need visuals here. Get screenshots of Google Analytics (GA) showing how similar brands are driving specific amounts of traffic that leads to conversions and sales every month.

Also, if possible, show them that SEO is one of the three biggest traffic drivers for businesses like theirs:

seo results

This is what your execs (or potential clients) are looking for. More than you telling them how important SEO is, they want to see visuals that prove to them that SEO actually works.

Convincing the CMO

Your CMO doesn’t only want to see the results — even though those are important, they want to see how you achieve them, or at least a high-level overview of how you want to get the results you’re promising.

Besides showing them examples of results that businesses like their organization get monthly through SEO, tell them about the tactical aspect of your SEO strategy, like how you’re going to be:

  • Analyzing your competitors’ SEO efforts — to see what they are doing and how to beat them in search results.
  • Doing in-depth keyword research — to optimize your efforts around keywords your customers search with regularly and identify the ones you can rank for.
  • Basing your keyword research on different customer buying stages.

While other execs outside your marketing department might not be so concerned with the operational aspect of SEO, your CMO — since they understand and are experienced with marketing — wants to see how you’re hoping to drive results through SEO.


Convincing the CFO

It’s all (or largely) about the money for your CFO.

Their job is to make the best use of the company’s financial resources.

So pitch SEO to them in such a way that they see their budget properly used.

The above screenshot is also useful here; when your finance manager sees that Google is the biggest traffic driver for a similar company, they will know SEO is worth prioritizing in their budget.

You can also convince them it is a more cost-effective and higher-performing channel than another channel they’re currently investing in.

For instance, in the marketing arm of most organizations, there’s usually at least one underperforming marketing channel that’s yielding less-than-par results for the money invested in it. You can advise your C-Suite that SEO is a better channel to fund than that other underperforming channel.

So, ideally, the CEO, CMO and CFO are the most relevant people to your SEO pitch. Do a good job at convincing them, and you can have the entire organization buying-in to your SEO strategy.

3. Don’t avoid the “how long” bit

Your C-Suite execs, besides the CMO, might not want to go into all the details of doing SEO, but they want to know when they’re getting ROI — or at least when they should be expecting it.

They’ve probably run Facebook, Instagram or Google Ads and seen how quickly results can add up, so they are accustomed to seeing fast results from their marketing spend.


Results will come in time…

SEO results usually take months to show up. While you might get a few hits in a few weeks after implementing your strategy, significant results don’t happen until months later.

But your execs want to know when the results are coming in.

Your greatest adversary here is uncertainty.

So you have the option to avoid the “How long do results take to show up?” question, but that’s a faulty move — especially because your bosses will surely pop the question.

You’ll need to be ready with a good enough answer.

As you probably know, you might never be able to precisely ascertain when they’ll start ranking on page #1 for the most important, customer-intent keywords in the industry. But here’s what you can do…

Give them a range

Tell them results typically come in 4-12 months.

But would that really convince them?

Frankly, it depends on how you present it to them. Don’t just tell them it takes that number of months to start seeing results, tell them why. Break down what happens in each of those months.

You don’t have to go in-depth into all the SEO technicalities; executives don’t need it. Instead, highlight the main task of every month and why each of them is important.

For example:

Month 1: Customer and keyword research

Why it’s important to understand the keywords your customers are searching online.

keyword research deliverable


Month 2: Technical SEO audit

Why it’s important: to make sure search engines understand your website and mark it as a good resource for searchers (potential customers) — and that without this, all SEO efforts can end up futile. In fact, this alone might mean a complete website revamp, which can take months.

technical seo audit


Month 3: Content strategy and creation

Why it’s important that search engines rank content that adds value to their users. This creates a channel acquisition opportunity for you — because many of those searchers are at different stages of their buying journey.

This way, you present what will be happening every month and why they’re all important. If you can get visuals, that’s even better; it will help make your case more persuasive. As I mentioned in my Semrush review, the tool offers a number of reports you can generate to help with status updates.

For example, when you show them what keyword research looks like on a spreadsheet, they see what thousands of their target customers are searching every month:

keyword research

A screenshot like this opens their minds to the value of search and how it can drive results; because if this number of people are searching for keywords that matter to their business every month, then SEO is a goldmine.


4. Help them see SEO’s long-term benefits vs other channels

There’s almost no way your execs won’t be comparing SEO to other channels, in terms of how quickly results show up.

Especially if they’ve previously funded some Facebook, Twitter or Google Ad campaigns before or seen a social media ad success story, they’ll have a good idea of how fast results come from social media.

So you have to do your homework on SEO vs other marketing channel comparisons. Don’t just tell, show them some successful campaigns you or someone else in your organization have run on Facebook, Display Ads, or some other channel.

Your goal here is this…

Prove that SEO results have a longer shelf life than other channels. You run a Facebook campaign, for example, for — say — two weeks and generate $100,000 in sales. It’s impressive, but once that campaign is over, that’s it; it doesn’t drive any more sales.

If you’re making a presentation to them in a meeting, that’s even better. You’ll have the chance to show them these comparisons on a large screen.

Get screenshots of past advertising campaigns on any platform and put their focus on the short lifespan of the results of those campaigns.

For example, this Twitter ad got over 17 impressions and 1.5 million total engagements, but that’s it — you’ll need to keep fueling the ad with money to keep the engagements coming in.

twitter data


Remember to remain objective; tell them they might keep seeing results even after the duration of the ad’s runtime, but it still drives more temporary results than SEO.

Introduce SEO as a better match

Look for a company like yours that has been maintaining a position in search results for a highly competitive keyword for months or even years.

Show your execs a screenshot of that and how much customer attention/traffic that particular company has been getting through SEO.

SEMrush comes in handy here. Enter a successful competitor’s URL in the tool and get stats that reveal the value of SEO compared to other channels.

For example, if beauty store Birchbox is one of your top competitors, enter their URL in SEMrush and go to the Overview tab.

The first data you’ll see is the traffic from organic search vs paid search:

pasted image 0 7

Next, click the Organic Research tab. It’ll show all the keywords Birchbox is ranking on Google alongside how many searches those terms fetch per month.

Take a screenshot using a tool like Lightshot and highlight some organic, product-related keywords Birchbox is ranking for. Include their respective search volumes, too.

keyword growth

Armed with a visual like this, you’ll be selling your execs the exact ROI they look for in every marketing channel they invest in, which is numbers. They care about the potential number of relevant visitors and conversions they can get from a channel.

To make your case even more persuasive, make sure you’re using an example of a business that is:

  • Similar to yours (that is, your execs’)
  • Getting truly amazing results through SEO

On top of that, go out of SEMrush (or whichever SEO tool you’re using), pick one of the top keywords your sampled company ranks for and search for it on Google. Show how your competitor (Birchbox in this case) ranks for a keyword that potential customers search in the thousands every month:

seo search results

Also, don’t — in a bid to prove the value of SEO —speak ill of the other channels. Instead, tell your execs other channels have their place. Then objectively conclude that SEO provides better results because it keeps driving results for years.

Now, go crush your pitch!

With the key points above, you should be able to convince anyone about the value of SEO for their business.

Remember that your C-Suite executives are open to investing in any marketing channel, but first, they need you to prove that channel worthy of their money. Focus on helping them (from the CEO to the business development VP) understand the value of SEO.

Nick Eubanks

 | July 22 ,2021

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