If You Like It, Put a Ring On It: Getting Executives to Invest in SEO


It takes time to gain the trust of the search engines. We must court these beasts for months if we want to get anywhere meaningful with them (#1 position in the SERPs, please).

Sure, we could try to fool them by putting on a big show and showering them with gifts, but after a while, they’d see through our phony exterior (low quality links), realize our lack of substance (no real content), and kick us to the curb for being a fraud.

Most of us recognize the value in feeding the search engines lobster rather than bologna. We want to build a relationship that withstands the test of time (and the evolutions of their algorithms). That takes hard work, which includes:

  1. Making the site accessible (via helpful navigation and sitemaps, valid markup, clean HTML, solid hosting, etc.)
  2. Building a strong SEO foundation (via content mapping, well-defined champion pages, consistent and effective internal linking and anchor text, lightweight pages to facilitate speedy page loading, relevant headers, metadata and alt text, etc.)
  3. Zeroing in on the smart keywords to tackle
  4. Offering unique content, often
  5. Gaining natural links through meaningful content
  6. Socializing with the rest of the web (using social media to interact with people to build trust and natural links)

Of course, that’s not all it’ll take. I won’t elaborate because most folks reading this know what it takes to rank well; but I bet most of us are also seriously lacking resources to get to the top of the SERPs.

That’s an issue. We have enough on our plates. Our biggest hurdle shouldn’t be a lack of resources.

Getting Executive Buy-In

In the online paid ad world it takes a millisecond to calculate the return of a PPC ad or an affiliate deal; however, it’s much trickier to calculate that for SEO.

So how do you convince “show-me-the-money-now” execs to invest in something that may take 3 to 6+ months to kick into gear? Here are a few tips:

1. Dispel the “SEO is Free” Myth

Somewhere along the way, a marketer decided it was a good pitch to say “SEO is all about bringing in free traffic with no cost”. While that sounds nice, it’s not reality. SEO does have cost: it takes a dedicated SEO professional to build and nurture the site; it takes new content to keep the site alive and attracting natural links; it takes developer/IT resources to get the site to it optimal performance, and more.

While many SEOs can balance some of this work, our time should really be spent on what we’re best at: search engine optimization.

Be vocal about your SEO needs. The concept of investing in SEO needs to sink into people’s heads for a while until they’ll consider making a real budget for it.

2. Show Why Your Competitors Are Beating You

One of the most effective ways to receive funding is to show how your competitors are beating you. Do they have more content updates? Are they more aggressively acquiring links? Demonstrate how you’ll beat them and lay out the tools you need to do so.

3. Test Small and Prove Success, Roll Out Big

Execs want to know that their investment will pay off. The proof is in the pudding, so start making pudding.

Create your own link bait and gain a few high quality links. Show off your results and ask the execs to image what you could do with a designer and social media promoter by your side. Write up 30 pages of unique content and flood your site for a week. Show them how your Bing rankings shot up.

Get them excited about what results you could bring if you had a budget to work with.

4. Deliver Meaningful Reports

Keep executives confident, happy and patient by looping them in.

Charts that take a 2-second glance to understand are great tools for busy execs. Send them a bi-weekly keyword traffic chart and a three-sentence update of how the SEO plan is progressing. Once a month, create a more comprehensive traffic and revenue report so they can see the big picture.

Get the Resources to Rock It

Granted, you don’t always have to invest in tons of content, link bait or social media promotion to get to the top. We should also be scrappy and figure out new (ethical) ways to get the best rankings with the least resources.

But I know whenever I’ve gotten to the top for a big keyword, it’s because I invested a lot of work into it. And that time and those resources didn’t come free (content development, developer and design expertise, IT assistance, paid analytical tools, social networking support, etc.).

If your company is expecting you to dominate your competitors and rank for your “big money” keywords (which company wouldn’t?), be realistic about what resources it’ll take. Get the resources and go knock their socks off.

Note: Please note that the opinions in this post are my own and do not reflect those of my employer. I also apologize for the Beyonce lyrics in the title.

Posted in SEO

About the Author: Meaghan Thomas

Meaghan Thomas runs Pinch Spice Market, an organic and fair trade spice company.


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