Know Your Numbers: The Business Case for Investing in SEO
People spend more time on the web than they do watching TV, and whatever it is they’re putting into the search bar is a clear expression of intent – and what they want is content that is going to educate, inform and solve a problem.
While more than 76% of organizations intend to spend more on content marketing in 2016, there are still many who are behind the times in search optimization spends. SEO is all about optimizing content so people can find it, but actual budget allocation continues to be lopsided.
Leadership may clearly understand the role content plays, yet fail to see where SEO has a functional part of the process.
That’s why it’s imperative to get the C-suite engaged.
Despite the fact that organic search is the indisputable leader in driving traffic online, it remains one of the lowest funded priorities in operational development and marketing budgets.
Search marketing often snags the bulk of those budgets, despite the fact that organic search consistently delivers a higher rate of lead to close conversions over paid, referral, outbound marketing and even social.
But that’s what leadership often wants from marketing effort – the fastest ROI. Too often those in charge of financial spends look for short and immediate gratification rather than an investment in the long game.
Because of that, we’re at a point where search budgets are upside down.
According to SEMPO’s research, SEM budgets averaged about 11% for SEO and a whopping 87% for PPC. When you look at heatmaps of Google’s SERPs, it’s easy to understand this logic.
Things get even trickier when mobile SERPs are taken into consideration. A 2016 study by Mediative found that over 92% of clicks go to an area above the 4th organic listing (including paid ads, Google’s knowledge graph and organic positions 1-3).
Don’t let that discourage you. The facts are in your favor when presenting SEO as a sound investment. It’s just a matter of communicating that investment in a way that leadership can understand and process.
It’s all in how you present it.
Stay Away from the Technical Details
Most technical SEO professionals rank search up there with the things they personally geek out about, but trying to sell corporate leadership on what you can do can be your biggest downfall.
Even high level SEO professionals still fail at communicating effectively with leadership, especially CEO’s and top level decision makers.
They dive into details that mean nothing to the suits – things like:
- Link profiles
- Canonical URLs
- Missing ALT tags
It happens. You’re not in sales. You’re in SEO, so it’s natural to lean on what you know.
But a technical discussion with a non-technical person builds a technical barrier. This is not the time to dazzle the corporate leadership with the terms of the trade. You have to focus on what they are familiar with and what they understand.
That means you communicate with data to prove value.
Hype and industry trends mean nothing until they align with competitive edge and the profitability of the company. You need a more calculated approach to get leadership to invest in SEO.
Think Like a CEO
Depending on where you fall in the great chain of corporate hierarchies, you may or may not know the company’s overarching business strategy.
If you don’t know, then find out.
The more you know about how and what leadership is thinking, the better you can position your case for a greater investment in SEO.
Generally speaking, the higher up you go on the organization chart the more future-focused leadership is going to be. If it’s spring, then your CEO already has their mind on what’s coming up next year and likely into the following.
A pitch for improving rank and SEO investment for the next month isn’t going to move them much.
When you want to pitch a bigger investment, know the company strategies and goals more than a year out.
Position the recommendation and opportunities to show them how it will sustain the growth goals of the company within that strategy.
Rely on Data to Demonstrate SEO Performance
If you want to appeal to bottom-line focused leadership teams, you need to focus on performance and the ROI of what you’re suggesting. Those two things will be heavily scrutinized – and that’s exactly what you want.
Getting executives on board lies in demonstrating a quantifiable improvement in metrics that matter to the bottom line.
- How improvements in SERP rank correlate to traffic and visibility
- Provide proof that quantifiable growth in traffic results in more conversions and revenue
You’ll need a little bit more than the data alone to sell it though. This is where you start to play the varsity level C-suite game.