4 reasons your boss doesn’t care about SEO—and what to do about it

Make the case for search engine optimization by using terms your boss can understand. Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it seems.

Many of you fight the good SEO fight in-house. You work your butts off, dodging politics, and doing everything in your power to make a case for why the company needs to invest more, or at all, in search engine optimization. But despite your efforts, the boss still doesn’t seem to show an interest in SEO.


How do you make the case for SEO in terms your boss can understand?

Here are four reasons your boss doesn’t care about SEO, and how you can change that.

1. You haven’t turned the data into a story

As humans, even smart humans, we’re not always good at interpreting data. This is troubling since most SEOs spend their day swimming in it. The trick is to take the raw data you receive from your analytics and transform it into something that is easier to understand. Typically, this involves creating a story around it. Note that I said a story, not a PowerPoint presentation.

To build a story around the analytics data, compare and contrast the numbers that tell you where your users are coming from, which links people click, where you’re getting unexpected traffic, and where people are abandoning.

Don’t show your boss the raw data; show him or her what the numbers mean in terms of sales, customer retention, and how you’re so much better than your competition.

2. Rankings are up, but traffic is down

I can see how this sounds counterintuitive. You probably can too. If the boss is paying someone to focus on SEO and he says rankings are up, then why isn’t traffic up?

Well, probably because you’ve finally cut out some of that meaningless, non-converting vanity traffic. You know, the traffic you acquired by accidentally ranking for things your business really didn’t want to rank for. Now you will get people with real wallets. Real visitors are up, pretend visitors are down.

Go back to the data and compare and contrast the number of visitors you receive with the number and price points of the conversions you’re seeing. If you’re attracting more of the right audience, your boss should like what the numbers say. It’s all about putting the numbers in the language your boss will understand. More often than not, that language is money. Or vanity.

3. Your boss isn’t educated on SEO’s other benefits

When you work for a small in-house team, you’re often responsible for a lot more than just the company’s SEO. You wear all the hats. You do conversion optimization, you create the Facebook page and the landing pages, you tweet, etc. You build the brand as a whole.

But your boss doesn’t always see that. He’s looking at conversions and, while they’re going up, they might not be going up to the degree that he’d expect them to. He’s not sure you’re worth the money he’s paying you.

Maybe it’s time to create a clear picture of everything you’re doing. While increased conversions is the SEO benefit all bosses long for, show him everything else you provide for the company like:

  • Increased visibility—not only in Web search, but in image search, video search, etc.
  • Increased brand authority and perceived value
  • Lower cost of customer acquisition
  • Better brand sentiment
  • Larger percentage of the available market
  • Greater voice in social media and throughout the industry
  • More engaged customer base

All of these elements contribute to the overall health of the brand and will increase sales down the road, if not immediately.

4. Your boss thinks you’re a warlock

The reason my father tells everyone that I’m a secretary at Google with a slight tone of disgust in his voice is because he doesn’t understand what I do. And because he doesn’t understand it, he doesn’t necessarily appreciate it or see its true value.

Depending on the state and size of your organization, your boss and my father may have a lot in common.

Your boss doesn’t need to know the dirty details of what you do all day, but he should understand the basic principles. Maybe that means sitting down with him and explaining the rationale for what you’re doing. Or maybe it means getting better at how you present the information to him. If your boss doesn’t understand what you do and what search engine optimization really entails, then he’s likely to not care. And that’s a problem you need to fix.

What’s the climate like within your organization? Is everyone onboard with SEO, or do you find yourself continually justifying what you do and why it’s so darn important to the business’s bottom line?

Lisa Barone is the chief branding officer at Outspoken Media , where this article originally ran.


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