I am an SEO. I am a business leader. And I consult with CEOs in the digital marketing space.
I’ve worked with CEOs who lack an understanding of the big-picture of SEO—how it works, what it requires, and what it means to execute it successfully. It’s the CEO’s job to lead, not to understand the all about dwell time and meta titles. But in order to lead successfully in a digitally dominate era, the CEO needs to know at least five features about SEO.
CEOs who understand the following five features will be light years ahead of their peers, and will be able to lead their companies with a greater degree of success.
1. SEO Takes Time
There’s no such thing as a quick fix any area of marketing. Search optimization is no different.
I understand the frustration. In order to gain first-page ranking and to see results, it takes months of hard work and ceaseless effort. Many CEOs measure time in terms of revenue. The business world thrives on short-term profits and the brief time period of quarters.
Perhaps one of the reasons why SEO is mistakenly perceived as a quick-and-easy technique is because it’s lumped in with the whole arena of online interaction—lightning fast connection speeds, instant emails, downloadable media, instant access, online purchases. Everything’s instant, right?
Wrong. Search engine optimization works at glacial speeds in spite of the hurry-up pace of everything else.
When the CEO sees search engine optimization for the late-blooming flower that it is, he or she will value it more, invest in it more, and be less hopeful about results next week.
2. SEO Costs Money
Search engine optimization is not free. I’m not sure who started this idea, but I’d like to put it to rest once and for all.
If there’s one thing that concerns CEOs more than time, it’s money. A CEO’s mind is often rolling with cost projections, revenue, payroll, earnings, debt, marketing spend, stock prices, and just about everything else. One fact that the CEO needs to keep in mind is that SEO costs money.
Companies spend their SEO money in several areas:
- In-house SEOs: A good SEO hired in-house isn’t going to be cheap. Quality SEOs can easily command six figures annually.
- Reporting: SEO is all about the numbers. Every decision is backed by data. This data doesn’t just appear in pie charts and year-over-year bar graph comparisons. It’s mined out of the mountains of numbers, generated by software services, or interpreted and distilled from Google Analytics. Either way you slice it, it costs.
- SEO consulting agencies: Whether by contracts or monthly retainers, many companies choose to hire SEO agencies to advise them on SEO best practices. It takes a team of skilled and knowledgeable experts to provide complete SEO advice. To succeed, a company needs technical expertise for implementation and current SEO knowledge for strategy. SEO monthly consulting fees can run in the low thousands to the millions.
- Linkbuilding. Glancing through Moz’s report on the Link Building Survey 2014, you can tell that companies spend money on linkbuilding. “Linkbuilding” can be classified as “content projects that more than likely still have an impact on link building efforts.” The largest percentage of companies are spending between $10,000 and $50,000 per month on these efforts.
Organic traffic doesn’t cost like paid ads cost. But organic traffic still costs. CEOs must realize that there is a difference between paid search (think ads) and organic search (think SEO). Both cost money.
3. SEO is Constantly Changing
One of the few constant truths of SEO is that it’s always changing. To be an SEO today means that you must adapt yourself to the constant fluctuation of techniques and practices.
The SERPs themselves change on a daily basis.
Just because you were ranking at number one yesterday, doesn’t mean that you’ll be ranking at number one tomorrow.
The algorithm changes on a daily basis, too. According to Matt Cutts, Google tweaks their algorithm on a daily basis. Engineers make anywhere from 300-500 changes per year. SEOs are at the mercy of the algorithm. We don’t control it. Even if most of these changes are small, they do have an impact.
But the big changes happen. Major algorithm changes can completely upset the fruit basket, creating a mad scramble in the search community for the new way to win at SEO.
4. SEO is Mostly About Content Marketing
There’s a mistaken belief that SEO is mostly about technical tricks and techniques.
It’s not. SEOs need to know the technical stuff like how to create a sitemap.xml, and what it means to optimize their robots.txt. But these “technical” things comprise a small portion of the actual workload of SEO.
SEO is mostly about creating content, not pulling out technical tricks. Content marketing is SEO, as I stated on Quicksprout. To win in the SEO game, a company must be willing to invest heavily in the generation of high-quality content.
Some deluded marketers tried to pit content against SEO, making one superior to the other. But there’s not a competition. There’s SEO with content marketing. They are becoming one and the same.
To win at SEO, you need content marketing.
5. SEO Cannot be Viewed as a Standalone Department or Initiative
SEO has a place in virtually every department of a business. SEO provides valuable data, and every department needs access to this data. Furthermore, SEO possesses information that affects what every department does.
Here are a few of those areas.
- SEO techniques should influence how public relations produces content.
- SEO is a critical part of any content produced online.
- SEO data should be used in advising marketing practices as a whole.
- SEO information must be taken into account when determining the success of marketing initiatives.
- SEO is a key part of social media.
- SEO should be part of writing press releases.
- SEO insights should be considered in site usability or redesign.
CEOs should make decisions based in large part on the information and advice of SEOs.
Conclusion: SEO is Not a Solution. It is a Strategy.
Usually, SEO is either thought of as a silver bullet or a total waste of money. Those are the two extremes.
The truth, as usual, is in the middle. It’s imperative that a company carry out SEO. But SEO isn’t going to solve all of a company’s growth and revenue problems, at least not right away.
The best way to approach SEO is as a necessary and powerful strategy. A CEO must engage in SEO, not with the expectation that is going to cure all ills, but with the willingness to implement its strategies.