Unlocking the Power of SEO: Convincing the C-Suite With a Compelling Business Case

By Kemp Allen |

One thing that remains constant regardless of the economy is that people will seek out answers to their questions. Whether that’s looking up information about products, reading reviews or deciding where to make a purchase in person or online, nearly everyone turns to search engines at some point in the customer journey.

Given the rise of generative AI, new patterns in search behavior and the generally competitive digital landscape of today, search engine optimization (SEO) is more critical than ever. SEO has become an essential tactic for all businesses, but it doesn’t come free. Making a strong business case for SEO to gain buy-in from the C-suite starts with understanding what matters to each role and how to show the value of SEO efforts.

Understanding What Matters Most

Question marks covering people's faces, representing the C-Suite and various searches SEO needs to meet

Prior to building a strong business case, you must first learn to think like your audience. What matters to them? How do they measure success? What devices will they use to engage with your content? Each executive has a unique role to support the organization with distinct priorities and concerns. By aligning your SEO strategy with those objectives, it will be much easier to show the value of SEO and convince the C-suite to invest in the work.

CEO: Driving Growth and ROI with SEO

An executive

The chief executive officer is primarily focused on driving the overall growth of the organization and maximizing the return on investment (ROI) of all tactics across the main functional areas like marketing, logistics and finance. When making your business case for SEO, it is important to highlight how SEO can contribute to key areas such as revenue, market share and brand visibility. Playing up the long-term benefits of SEO, such as sustainable organic traffic growth and improved customer acquisition, will go a long way. 

For example, B2B brands generate 33% of their leads from SEO, not to mention SEO producing double the revenue of any other channel. Other key metrics to highlight for the CEO must include ROI, sales growth projections, market share and share of voice. It is a good idea to present data and case studies showing the impact SEO can have on those metrics for similar organizations and to demonstrate how SEO drives tangible business results and contributes to the organization’s bottom line.

B2B brands generate 33% of their leads from SEO.

CFO: Budget Efficiency and Forecasting

A professional analyzing financial data

The chief financial officer focuses on budgeting, forecasting and ensuring the efficient allocation of financial resources for the organization. When making a compelling business case for SEO to the CFO, focusing on the cost-effectiveness and long-term value of SEO compared to other marketing channels (think social media, print, email, etc.) is critical to success. It is important to show how SEO can deliver high ROI and contribute to meeting forecasted growth numbers while maintaining budget efficiency across the board. 

As an example, one of Pace’s clients achieved a 14% reduction in new customer churn through their investment in SEO. With 40% of the brand’s revenue coming through organic search traffic, this reduction in churn represented a huge return for the organization.  

Key metrics to highlight for the CFO must include operational costs, budget efficiency and forecasts. Providing data and projections that demonstrate how investing in SEO will benefit those areas and deliver sustainable results without negatively impacting the organization’s financial goals will help convince the CFO to allocate budget to SEO.

One of Pace’s clients achieved a 14% reduction in new customer churn through their investment in SEO.

CMO: Enhancing Marketing Performance with SEO

Two people shaking hands

The chief marketing officer is tasked with driving marketing strategies and ensuring effective, sustainable demand generation for the organization’s goods or services. When presenting the business case for SEO to the CMO, you must focus on how SEO can enhance the overall marketing performance of the organization. Key areas to highlight include how SEO drives website traffic, improves conversion rates, grows brand awareness, increases share of voice, and assists other marketing channels such as content marketing, email and social media.

Key metrics to highlight for the CMO must include conversion rates, acquisition costs and ROI compared to other marketing channels. Be sure to showcase how SEO can complement and amplify the performance of other marketing tactics while positioning it as a cost-effective, high-impact channel for driving targeted traffic and generating leads. For instance, comparing conversion rates for SEO can highlight its value relative to other forms of traffic acquisition, especially when the marketing costs across each channel are known.

CTO: Technical Insights and Product Development

A woman reviewing code on a screen

The chief technical officer plays a crucial role in understanding and implementing technical advancements that drive business growth. Any business case for SEO that goes in front of the CTO should emphasize the technical aspects of SEO such as website performance, data insights and integration with other systems. In addition to the technical aspects, be sure to mention how SEO can provide valuable data for product development, customer insights and market trends from the target audience directly.

Key metrics to highlight for the CTO must include site performance, product development and adoption. Highlighting how SEO can provide valuable data and insights that inform technical decisions and innovate the organization’s offerings, while being approachable and easy to implement on the website is crucial to getting buy-in.

COO: Operational Efficiency and Cross-Functional Impact

A team of people smiling and working together, representing SEO's value for operations and other concerns for C-Suite individuals

The chief operating officer is tasked with ensuring operational efficiency and driving cross-functional collaboration within the organization. To get the COO to buy in, the business case for SEO must demonstrate how SEO can contribute to various aspects of the business (recruiting, branding, sales and customer retention).

Key metrics to highlight for the COO must include operational costs, compliance and regulatory information, business intelligence, and contribution to cross-functional goals. For instance, 80% of job searches occur online, with Google processing nearly 3 million monthly searches for “jobs near me” and an additional half a million for “remote jobs.” Demonstrating how SEO can attract talent, drive operational efficiency, align with the organization’s goals and objectives, and provide critical business intelligence and cost savings is key to success.

80% of job searches occur online, with Google processing nearly 3 million monthly searches for “jobs near me.”

Elements of a Compelling Business Case for SEO

Artist's representation of SEO for the C-Suite

Now that you have a better understanding of the roles of the C-suite and what matters most to each, building out a compelling business case for SEO that targets each role is much easier. Tailor your messaging and data based on what each role cares most about and follow these steps to ensure your case is strong.

  1. Define the benefits of SEO. 
  2. Showcase SEO success stories. 
  3. Outline the resources, tools and efforts involved to drive SEO success. 
  4. Align SEO with organizational goals. 
  5. Provide data-driven insights. 
  6. Demonstrate ROI and cost-effectiveness. 
  7. Address potential concerns and objections. 
  8. Establish clear performance metrics and reporting timelines. 
  9. Highlight the value of SEO insights. 
  10. Communicate clearly and effectively at each stage. 
  11. Continuously monitor and report on SEO performance. 

TL;DR

Building a compelling business case for SEO requires a deep understanding of the C-suite’s perspective, clear communication of the value of SEO, and data-driven insights on performance and ROI. By aligning SEO with the objectives and priorities of each executive, showcasing success stories, and providing clear metrics and insights, you can effectively convince the C-suite about the importance of investing in SEO.

Remember to continuously monitor and report on SEO performance to maintain their support and drive ongoing success. With a well-crafted business case, you can secure the resources and support needed to implement a successful SEO strategy and drive business growth.


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