selling seo to internal stakeholders Selling SEO to Internal Stakeholders

So you’ve been tasked with turning the company’s fortunes around. 

You know you need to outsource elements of your marketing strategy, specifically the bits concerned with getting your website to the top of Google (you’re no SEO expert after all and getting it wrong can actually mean a drop in rankings!)

What’s more, you’ve done your research and found an agency that may be perfect for the job. But your MD insists they’re too expensive, despite the projections on return.

The challenge of getting senior management buy-in, when those individuals aren’t involved in the ongoing discussions, is a problem we come up against all the time at Superb Digital, and it’s what I want to talk about today.

Getting buy-in and why it matters

Getting buy-in from the budget holders in the business is not always easy. Whilst you may appreciate that the idea of paying a three figure retainer to get a five figure return is completely ludicrous and untenable, it’s not something your MD or CEO is really grasping.

The reason usually comes down to a lack of information and an under-appreciation of the results that SEO can bring. 

You just don’t have the data to convince him or her.

Getting the budget holder onto a call with the agency is paramount. This will be something any agency will be pushing for from day one (or they should do anyway). Senior management will only have limited time though, so it’s important that you’ve run prospective agencies through the vetting process in order to sort the wheat from the chaff. There’s nothing more likely to torpedo your cause than getting a busy MD on a call with an agency that just doesn’t know their stuff.

Ideally you want to have your short list down to two or three agencies, before you start booking decision makers on the calls.

The second thing you need to do, is to brief your own managers and any other key stakeholders that are going to be involved in the decision making process.

Let’s look at some of the things that it’s important to go over.

Start with the Basics of SEO

Before you get into the nitty-gritty of your plans, estimated budget, and ROI of SEO, it’s important to establish a baseline understanding of what SEO actually is for the people you’re trying to convince. 

Be wary of senior personnel who say they know what it is as well. It’s often the case that internal stakeholders think they know what SEO is, but their idea of what SEO is is often completely outdated or flat-out wrong. We’ve spoken to many senior marketing people who really only have a base level understanding of SEO.

This may be challenging if said stakeholders have been burnt in the past by SEO agencies. Differentiating between the cowboys and the cavalry is very important here, as you may find they are fixated on the perceived risks, rather than the potentially massive benefits. Dispel the notion that it’s some form of underhanded trickery to fool Google, and that doing so would either get your website blacklisted or instantly put it at the top of the search rankings. 

They might also confuse organic SEO with paid search, which does involve driving traffic from search engines, but does so with ads instead of organic search results.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or correcting preconceptions, remember to speak in the language that your stakeholders understand. Using jargon is the fastest way to make them lose interest.

Explain the Benefits of SEO

After educating stakeholders on what SEO is at the conceptual level, you can then start explaining why it’s good for their business specifically. This is where the data comes in. You need to show stakeholders something real to latch onto.

It’s best to start by showing where your company currently stands in terms of search rankings. You can keep things easy to understand with a simple Google search using keywords that are relevant to what your business offers. Point out where your website is in the rankings, and where the competition’s websites are ranked (nothing gets a director’s attention better than seeing the competition outperforming them). 

Another important aspect of SEO is the user experience on your website. Load it up in real time and walk your stakeholders through potential pain points. Seeing how slow certain pages load or how confusing it is to navigate the site should make it abundantly clear that you need to do SEO.

From the standpoint where your website needs improvement, you can then pivot to showing what SEO can accomplish for your business when it’s done properly.

Set Goals

Stakeholders need to know what results to expect and how long it will take to see these results. Answer both of these questions by setting specific, measurable goals that can be accomplished within a reasonable timeframe, such as:

  • Search ranking improvement
  • Organic traffic increase
  • Bounce rate decrease
  • Engagement 
  • Quality lead generation
  • Conversions

You can make educated projections for these goals from data based on where your website currently stands by commissioning an SEO audit, which most agencies will offer as a one off cost. 

There are plenty of free audit tools out there, but we strongly advise against using them without the expertise needed to know how to interpret them (we’ve had more than one client panicking about disavowing toxic links off the recommendation of a free SEO audit, when Google has said repeatedly there’s absolutely no need to do this anymore).

If you are looking to put together a financial projection, then why not have a look at our free SEO forecaster. It gives you the template, the methodology and links to the free tools that will allow you to put together a powerful projection of revenue from ranking your website at the top of Google, and how much you should be spending to get there.

How we can help you get everyone on the same page

We realise that selling SEO internally isn’t easy. After all, selling SEO is something we do every day and we know it ain’t easy. And it ain’t cheap!

But let me just drop some facts on you before I sign off:

One of the reasons we created the SEO Revenue Forecaster is to give non SEO experts like you, the tools to produce the data you need to convince stakeholders just how much they could be making from SEO and why they’d be mad not to start investing in it. It’s much harder for the decision makers in your business to regard a £3k monthly retainer as expensive, when the potential five, or even six, figure monthly returns after year one are staring them back in the face.

Of course, at some point, there needs to be a leap of faith from those with their fingers on the purse strings. And the more data you have to convince them, the easier that jump will be, as it’s predicated on a well researched business decision.

We regard it as part of our job to arm you with this information. More than that, we always look to speak to the decision makers as early as possible in order to present it to them. 

After that point, it’s really up to the head honchos.

Let us know how you get on with the SEO forecaster and if you haven’t downloaded it yet, what are you waiting for?