How To Explain SEO To Your C-Suite Executives

Tim Brown

Owner at Tim B Design – Web Design Minneapolis, helping mid-sized businesses drive web traffic and conversion, earning them more customers.


Explaining search engine optimization to your C-suite executives is easy if they’ve seen the results before, but many companies are just approaching a serious push on search engine optimization for the first time. SEO is the process of changing your website and factors related to your website that can help get more organic traffic from search results, so when people use a search engine to find something like what you’re selling, you’re more likely to be listed.

Because C-suite executives are often strapped for time and have a lot of different efforts on their plate, it’s important to articulate key concepts simply and focus on the metrics that really matter. Important metrics for SEO often include website traffic from organic search results, the number of people who took key actions on the site (referred to as conversions), how those conversions translate into real revenue for the company, historical trends and goals.

Lead By Example: Experiment To Prove New Opportunities

If you’re not a C-level executive, how can you convince your company’s executives to buy in and recognize the power of SEO? Prove it by creating a culture that focuses on organic website traffic by writing articles that answer questions your ideal customers are looking for. Be intentional about creating real resources within the vertical or industry.

By creating items of value, a company will earn natural clout within its industry and the website will get traction. This means looking for a need – perhaps start by looking at Quora or Answer the Public – and answering questions people are actually asking related to your company does. Then move to creating more how-to guides, tools or in-depth subject matter guides.

This approach is often to referred to as content marketing; creating valuable content endears ideal prospects to your brand and familiarizes them to you, giving you an advantage in their minds when it’s time for them to make a purchase decision. Because people spend more time on your site, Google also will be more likely to serve your site to people because “time on site” is one of the quality metrics used in search algorithms to determine which pages to show higher up in rankings.

Track conversions from organic search traffic, connect that number to revenue, and monitor improvements and the actions taken to improve those two numbers. Tracking is an obvious first step, but monitoring revenue from e-commerce (or even estimated revenue from contact forms) in a monthly way will help make it clear if SEO efforts are working. How can a company estimate revenue if it has a lead generation website? Take the average customer lifetime value (CLV) and multiply it by the percentage of people who became actual customers from a lead form. You can even create a live dashboard from Analytics and Search Console using Google’s Data Studio.

If buy-in is absolutely needed before starting, find the high search volume opportunities and examples of competitors. Some people may need to convince C-suite executives before starting. If this is the case, compile a list of competitors that are beating the company for 10 of the top terms that make the company money in Google search results and show the average monthly searches for each term (you can find this with a tool like Ahrefs). This kind of clear documentation of lost opportunity may be just the spur in executives’ sides that causes them to take action.

C-Level Perspectives On SEO

It’s helpful to consider people who are leading successful businesses perspective on SEO. Consider Mark Galloway, CEO of Oppsource’s perspective, for instance: “Engaging today’s modern B2B buyer starts with Google searches and ends with moment-of-interest engagement opportunities. We use SEO extensively to get in front of more customers who are looking for something like we are selling.”

Niles Deneen, owner at Deneen Pottery, said, “Search engine optimization allows us to steadily increase revenue from people searching on Google without paying hand over fist for paid ads, and with residual effects that continue even after an initial SEO push is done.”

C-suite executives don’t care about the number of keywords ranked for as much as sizable increases in revenue and profitability over the long haul. Kiel Jared, director of digital marketing at On Services, thinks in terms of whether leads are qualified to buy or not. “Because organic traffic tends to be more qualified, and these visitors consider themselves the pursuer rather than the pursued from the outset, you can lower the cost of acquisition on average for new customers,” he said.

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C-level executives who are pushing for SEO internally should make clear their end goal to the team – whether that is more qualified leads, direct sales on site, or simply more traffic – and tie that back to things the team cares about. Create incentives internally for existing team members to take more ownership over these efforts, but most of all, lead by making specific team members responsible for key performance indicator’ like increasing organic traffic and leads or sales from the website and checking in with them on those goals monthly.

C-suite executives have less time to get to the point than the average worker or middle manager; they want bulleted lists, visual examples and someone to boil down the key ideas of a particular initiative’s progress. Connect traffic to conversions and conversions to revenue, then clearly explain the recent historical trend for traffic, conversions and revenue or estimated revenue from the site. If the site doesn’t have the data yet, fear not; finding terms with a high monthly average search volume and showing how competitors are higher up in search results can be persuasive as well.