Here’s how to get executives excited about SEO

As an SEO expert at your company – maybe the SEO expert – you may find yourself needing to persuade executives to invest more in your company’s SEO practices.
Championing SEO means successfully selling the right company leaders on the benefits, demonstrating the effectiveness and wisdom of your specific SEO strategy, and, more often than not, including a few convincing facts about why it will make them look good.
Here are four practices you should use to your advantage when trying to win executive support for your SEO proposals:
1) Understand your executive audience before you even step in the room
When you enter the executive meeting to present your SEO plan, know exactly what you’re getting into. Is this a group discussion, or are you going in one-on-one? What will keep the attention of this particular individual or group, and what are the expectations for this meeting on the other side of the table?
In presenting your plan, it’s important to tell executives everything they need to know in order to say yes. This means explaining the very specific goals that your SEO proposal will help the business achieve. Clearly explain any costs and risks as well, so that executives have the information to make a fully informed decision.
Remember that they may even have to sell what you’re proposing at the level above them. If it’s possible to tailor what your asking for and how you present it to align well with current budgeting and company strategy, do so.
Overall, try to hand executives the ready-made case they need to fully convince both themselves and others how a greater investment in SEO will positively affect the bottom line.
2) Prepare a presentation that’s focused, powerful, and to the point
Take the time to practice and refine your presentation, focusing on a tight collection of points that you want – and need – to make. It also doesn’t hurt to use a few tricks from the advertising world, from plain old flattery to the bandwagon approach.
Make it clear that a proper focus on SEO is what smart companies are doing to succeed, and that this focus will serve to increase exposure for the tremendous work being done by creative and other teams. Also explain how “everyone else is doing it,” especially through presenting information that highlights where competitors have superior SEO practices and are beating your company in search rankings.
A little competitive spirit and FOMO can help put the push for SEO in perspective and get executives animated about how your company can respond – a response plan you ought to have ready as well.
3) Stick to terminology your audience can understand
Remember that the executives in your audience probably don’t understand SEO terminology at an expert level. That said, you shouldn’t hesitate to provide specific examples and information that will help draw them in; just be sure to avoid SEO jargon with which non-experts aren’t familiar.
For example, you may want to talk about metadata and KPIs, but your audience may need a bit of guidance to navigate these terms. You can accomplish this with rephrasing, such as changing metadata to “how searchers view your result on the search engine results page”, and KPIs to “specific data points that matter.”
4) Present those specific data points that matter
When weaving the narrative you present to executives as to how an investment in SEO will achieve intended results for your company, ensure that they take it as more than a fairy tale: ground everything in actual data.
From an internal execution standpoint, this means getting specific with the costs, personnel, and bandwidth required. It also means setting target goals the potential visibility and profit your company’s SEO efforts will deliver.
Don’t be afraid to dive into the real metrics that your proposal has been crafted to improve. This will likely include specific information like customer acquisition cost (CAC), the marketing percentage of CAC, the ratio of customer lifetime value to CAC, the time to payback the CAC, and the marketing originated/influenced customer percentages.
If your presentation can convincingly demonstrate how your SEO efforts will return favorable numbers for these metrics, there’s a good chance that executives would be smart to listen to you – and that they will.
Kevin Gamache is Search Strategist at Wire Stone , a digital marketing agency part of Accenture Interactive .