You’re Not the Boss of Me: Why SEO Confuses and Threatens Some Execs

All due respect to business owners and executives out there, but SEO and Internet marketing in general is a real threat to some of you. And it’s understandable.

It’s asking you to adapt and change your business to conform to new standards and practices. It’s asking you to give up total control of your business’ website, the one you poured your heart and soul into. It’s asking you to step down as the CEO of all things Web and trust someone else with the success of your site.

It’s not easy. But, it’s time.

So, let’s take a look at the beginning stages of letting go and giving in to the online marketing strategy.

Giving up Control and Trusting the Expert

“Giving up control” maybe isn’t the best way to put it. As an owner or executive of a company, you’re still going to be an active part in the online marketing decision-making process. Internet marketing supports business goals; it doesn’t work against them. And the fate of your Internet marketing success essentially lies in your hands when you’re the person giving the blessing.

Cat at the vet

What’s needed is a willingness to trust the right marketing expert with your site. Over the years, you’ve assembled a team of people for your business that all have special skills and talents. You oversee your team, but you also trust that they know what they’re doing. This is how you need to look at your SEO/Web marketing professional or agency.

While many business owners or marketing execs feel comfortable making important decisions daily based on years of experience, the Internet marketing strategy can sometimes pose a problem.

Since it’s a newer discipline, many executives and business owners do not understand the intricacies of it, and this confuses some of them and threatens their ability to make sound decisions.

Depending on the industry, old school marketing has worked just fine until now for many businesses. They’ve built their companies on it, they understand it. Now this “SEO” and “PPC” and “conversions” and “analytics” thing — and a whole mess of other online marketing concepts — are flying at them at lightning speed, and it’s overwhelming.

What’s interesting is that most companies with bigger operations have some sort of dedicated IT department, team or person. While the business owner may not know a thing about information systems, IT is usually trusted to carry out daily tasks without much question.

But when it comes to the Internet marketer and online marketing strategy, it’s often looked at with caution and sometimes doubt. I can think of two reasons off the top of my head:

  1. It’s a newer discipline, and validating credentials is not as easy as knowing someone graduated from a four-year university with a degree in computer science, for example. Business owners may not trust Internet marketers right away to be making the best decisions for their site. First, there’s nothing wrong with questioning credentials. Choosing an in-house Internet marketer or agency is a very important step in the process. But, once the right one is chosen, it’s time to trust their expertise.
  2. The online marketing strategy is (in the eyes of many) messing with years of proven marketing tactics and a website that has likely been built with lots of blood, sweat and tears. Most businesses have built their websites based on emotion. The online marketer builds strategies for websites with things like analytics, best practices, formulas and more. This can completely crush the emotional connection a business owner or exec has with the websites they’ve built. This can be one of the hardest obstacles to hurdle over.

Being Receptive to Understanding the Process

Guess what? When you take the time to learn and understand the process, you’re actually putting more control back into your hands to make educated decisions. By trusting the expert, this leads to a partnership by where the business owner or exec can be an active part in the process.

Big decisions still need to be made, and as the person in charge, it’s your decision to say “yes” or “no.” But, knowing why you are saying yes or no is the key.

A good Internet marketer or agency will take the time to explain the how and why of the strategy, will have data to back it up and will be able to answer all your questions with reasonable responses. Having an Internet marketer that listens and addresses questions and concerns is very important.

Literary cat

And it’s your duty as the decision maker to ask these questions, to understand the process, so three months down the line, you don’t have a conniption when you don’t know what’s happening with the site.

Like when you don’t know why you’re not seeing the results you expected, or you don’t understand why the strategy is going in the direction it is.

Or maybe you or someone else in the organization has an idea to make changes to the site based on business decisions that could potentially wreak havoc on SEO efforts.

Understanding the process positions business owners well, so every decision made keeps your online marketing efforts in mind. It also helps to translate your vision into the strategy.

Sending the Command for Company-wide Buy-In

The next point applies more to midsize and large companies with several divisions or brands to manage, but can also apply to teams within small businesses. The primary decision maker or head of the company serves as the commander in chief, yet you have a handful of brands or sectors of the business all with their own hierarchal structures and all vying for their own successes.

A large-scale Internet marketing strategy will not work without a commander in chief who has succumbed to trusting the expert and understanding the process. Then, there needs to be an understanding that in order for online marketing to work, all hands need to be on deck.

Cold war, the struggle not yet in full flames

What that means is that from the top down, there needs to be an organization-wide commitment to the plan.

This poses more problems, because now you have more decision-makers that all have to go through the process of giving up absolute control, trusting the expert and understanding the process.

But it has to be done, because each brand, division or team knows their sectors best. And translating what their side of the business needs into an online marketing strategy is an important part of making it successful.

Yes, the Internet marketer knows how to approach it on a tactical level, but the driver is business goals. So, it’s a symbiotic relationship between the online marketer and business leader. And this relationship cannot be successful until it has the blessing of the commander in chief.

In-house SEO takes commitment, willingness and an open mind. Sometimes it’s a constant battle to prove the strategy and advantages. The good news is that Internet marketers are passionate enough to continue to fight the good fight, and prove that online marketing is an invaluable part of business.

Jessica Lee is the founder and chief creative for bizbuzzcontent Inc., a marketing boutique that focuses on digital content strategy and professional writing services for businesses.

See Jessica's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (9)
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9 Replies to “You’re Not the Boss of Me: Why SEO Confuses and Threatens Some Execs”

great post… i agree with you.. now days, SEO is in trend and the business owners who want to get success, they have to show their trust on that professionals, only then we can get success in online business.

Another great article Jessica! I see this almost on a daily basis. In my opinion, the business model HAS changed for the better. If companies don’t start realizing the power of SEO combined with proper social media marketing strategies, then they’re going to get left behind. The days of talking “at” your customers are over. It’s time to talk “with” your customers.

A lot of Malaysian businessmen should read this article. Even we are now in Internet age, but a lot of them still afraid of losing control over their company. Because of that, they actually started losing marketing shares and sales drop.

SEO has been around for a while now, but companies are realizing that they need to all get on board. Problem is accepting change, and being able to give up some of the control. For old fashioned companies this could come be a problem as if you not engaged in good seo then you could be left behind.

I agree with this post a great deal. In the accounting vertical there are several issues that prevent the industry from jumping in and using SEO as a strategy to help grow the business. Many of the reasons we encounter revolve around the fact that so little is known about what SEO really is and what clients can expect from the effort.

It’s important for business owners to entrust social media and online marketing to experts, but it would also help if they educate themselves somewhat on the mentioned fields so that they’re not completely at the mercy of the people they hire.

Totally agree! How can you make smart decisions about your business and how that translates into the SEO strategy if you don’t understand it on some level? Good to hear from you, as always.


I see a new job emerging at the companies, something like an inhouse SEO coordinator. So, whenever the SEO-Shop says to IT that links ought to be siloed, this exec, or mamber of the IT can translate this into something they can understand.


Hey, Klaus! Yes … an “SEO translator” — ha, I like it. Maybe it can be like Gmail Motion, where the translator acts out the facets of the SEO plan to the other people in the company.


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