How to Sell SEO to CEOs (or the c-suite) VLOG

Are you tasked with selling SEO to your CEO? Or, do you know that SEO is a really good option for your company’s marketing dollars but you need to get the c-suite on board with your SEO recommendation?

This blog is for you.

As someone who has sold or pitched SEO to countless CEOs and c-suite executives, I’ve learned a thing or two about talking the talk and walking the walk. Also, for what it’s worth, I’m a CEO too.

What Not to Say to CEOs When Selling them SEO

One thing I’ve learned about about talking to CEOs about SEO is that they have no desire to hear about how much you know about algorithms or how it all works. Don’t waste your time talking about link profiles, canonical URLs, alt tags, meta data, or any technical SEO.

CEOs care about numbers, costs and profits. Hit them here, and not by showing off your knowledge of technical SEO, and you will have their ear.

Put Yourself in Your CEOs Shows When Talking about SEO

CEOs are busy. You have to understand that (unless they ask) they really only want to know a data-driven answer as to why you think your company should invest its marketing dollars somewhere else. CEOs care about results. Give them an answer as to how they will get them and you may win them over.

You need to be able to communicate to them quickly and efficiently:

  • Communicate in terms of business goals.
  • Communicate in terms of risk.
  • Remember, that executives have bosses too.
  • Be aware of your company’s budgeting and planning.
  • Think like a boss – know the most you can about how SEO can help the company.

CEOs are decision-makers, not problem-solvers. They are going to ask:

  • Why should we invest in SEO vs. [insert another strategy here]?
  • What profits can you estimate?
  • How long is it going to take?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • How many widgets do we have to sell to justify the costs?
  • Can we do this in-house?

Point Out the Competition’s Strategy

I once had a CEO tell me he wanted to “suffocate the competition” in the business sense. Showing a CEO that their competitors are having success with SEO — and assigning a revenue estimate to it — can make them move faster than a fiddler attracts a square dance. Show them the actual search results for the keywords you’d like to rank for. Next, explain that the reason the competition is showing up on the first page, and you’re not,  is because you don’t have SEO services.

Show Them Some Credible Stats that Back-up Your Results Claims

  • 72% of marketers say content creation is the most effective SEO tactic (Source:
  • 71% of B2B research starts with generic searches. (Source:
  • 57% of B2B marketers agree that SEO has the biggest impact on lead generation. (Searchmetrics)

Better yet, if you have some tracking in place, maybe you have some solid metrics that showcase previous successes with organic search.

Example: We had a big real estate development client with a CEO who was known as a ball-buster. SEO was never really on the table — he was more on board with PPC — until his marketing team showed him data that proved CPA with SEO was cheaper, and more effective, than display. He changed his tune and they are still enjoying success from it today.

Put the Emphasis on ROI

Estimating ROI is challenging but if you are somewhat savvy you should be able to get some estimates on this. For example, say your budget is $1000. Your average order is $50. This means you have to sell at least 20 items to break even (not including overhead).

If you can show that you expect to sell 40 items after 4 months of SEO, and make $2000, and up to 100 items after 8 months ($5000), and more, then you will have a strong case for generating the budget and green light.

Setting Expectations with CEOs

With all things marketing, you have to set proper expectations. The last thing you want to do is say SEO will take a few months to ramp up when you know it will take 10. If you are pressured to get more immediate results, consider bringing PPC into the mix alongside SEO.

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