6 Practical Ways to Get Buy-In for SEO

Digital marketer gets his team to buy in to SEO.

If you want SEO to succeed at your organization — like really succeed — you need more than just you or your immediate team on board with it.

I’ve said before that SEO needs to be a key strategic initiative for the entire company in order to see the best results. Not just the marketing team, but everyone who is involved in the success of the website and the company needs to buy in.

When the chairman at a client’s company called a meeting to say everyone needed to be on board with SEO or essentially find a new place to work, they got on board. And, after months of working together on a new SEO-driven site, they saw a traffic increase of 900% within the first week it went live.

The big obstacle is that companies are often pressed for time and resources. SEO won’t be a priority unless people across the company understand why it helps the organization as a whole, and their department in particular.

In this article, I’ll explain six practical ways you can build buy-in for search engine optimization at your company:

  1. Build relationships
  2. Show data
  3. Dispel myths
  4. Educate about SEO
  5. Align with goals
  6. Pilot a small project

1. Build Relationships

At the end of the day, you’re not going to get anywhere without building key relationships in your company. And because you want the right people across your company actively participating in the SEO project, investing in this step is important.

Remember that people don’t generally respond well to broad outreach, preferring instead a personal approach that addresses individual desires and interests. So SEO buy-in is generally hard to achieve with mass emails or memos about best practices.

Rather, form personal connections with others across key departments. These are far more likely to develop into a meeting of minds. For example, talking to the sales folks about their needs can give you ideas on how to align SEO initiatives to drive more sales.

Pay attention to who takes the most interest in SEO. Then you can build a network of SEO evangelists with one or more representatives within each department.

2. Show Data

Sometimes one of the best ways to get buy-in is to show where the company’s website is at today. This can be something as simple as pulling some reports from Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

These data points may be off the radar for many people in the company. Showing them just how much room there is for improvement may serve as a big wake-up call.

If you want a more in-depth picture of what’s going on, get a proper SEO audit from an agency or professional (or do one yourself if that’s in your wheelhouse). An audit will look at every aspect of the website and what needs to be addressed to compete in the search results.

As you are building a picture for your stakeholders, be sure to show them how improvements can move the needle and what that might look like for the business.

Try not to become frustrated if faced with push-back. This usually occurs when someone doesn’t understand how a proposed SEO tactic will help them meet their goals. In these instances, it’s time to build a stronger case.

3. Dispel Myths

Those who are not intimately familiar with SEO will likely have some false beliefs around it. As you are building relationships and presenting data, dispel any myths that could be a roadblock to buy-in.

Common SEO myths include:

  • SEO is too unreliable: This myth is all about thinking that the Google algorithm is too unpredictable, so you just can’t win.
  • You can’t measure SEO: This myth says that you can’t track SEO like you can track other marketing and advertising channels.
  • SEO is a one-time thing: This myth is grounded in a misconception that you only need to do a set of SEO activities once, and then you are golden.

4. Educate about SEO

Remember that in most cases, you are dealing with people who know less about SEO than you do. A lot less. So it’s important to take a “for dummies” approach and keep things simple.

Validate your SEO advice using Google’s recommendations wherever possible. This helps people understand that SEO is not trickery — it’s a partnership between Google and the websites within its index.

As you make recommendations, also speak in terms of your experience, using phrases such as “in my experience” or “previously” when explaining the value of SEO tactics. People will better acknowledge the importance of SEO initiatives if they know that you’re speaking from past successes.

If you have the budget, get key folks involved in some basic SEO training. This can quickly get a group of people up to speed on why SEO is important.

We often encourage everyone that touches the website to get involved in SEO training, from the web developer to the IT guy and beyond. (P.S. Check out that link to see our new online training platform, which makes it easy for everyone to join in.)

5. Align with Goals

On your journey, you will begin to understand which key performance indicators matter to people across the company. Use those as a guiding light and align them with SEO initiatives.

There is rarely a business goal that cannot be met with SEO. Usually, revenue is a top one. More leads is another. As we’ve seen and others have reported, SEO can be a key traffic and revenue driver for many businesses.

6. Pilot a Small Project

If the company is still not ready to go “all in,” start small. Begin with a small project that you know will move the needle.

It could be small SEO fixes that you can implement on the site, or an initiative that works to support a key group within the company. Once you get a few smaller wins, you will begin to build momentum.

Your Ongoing Efforts

If you champion SEO at your company, you are faced with the ongoing task of proving its relevance to business goals long term and making sure all decisions involve SEO.

For example, is the company planning a web redesign? New content? A new product or service? All of these launches need to involve SEO for the best results.

Make a point of regularly reporting SEO progress to the whole organization or all key departments with a stake in the company’s success (management, directors, sales, marketing, editorial, IT).

Significant successes and failures should both be included in reports made at regular intervals. Give kudos when they are due, so that people stay active in the team. When you get people in the habit of looking forward to the report, you boost motivation to stay involved in SEO initiatives company wide.

We help companies strategize and implement SEO plans that work. If you’d like to discuss how we can help you, request a quote here.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay, Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn and other social networks from Bruce's author page.
Comments (4)
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4 Replies to “6 Practical Ways to Get Buy-In for SEO”

SEO is the key for all the business success. I implement all of your SEO tactics for my blog. Keep it up.

Awesome writeup Bruce. “Dispel Myths” idea is gold!

SEO has become very significant nowadays

Good point about education. The main cause of later problems with the client is certainly the lack of client education at the very beginning of the cooperation. Not always the person who buys SEO from us is an experienced marketer or a person who knows the secrets of SEO, they are often people who hear about SEO for the first time.

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