Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on January 30th, 2009

How To Persuade SEO Skeptics

skeptical_0.jpgYou may know that SEO drives traffic, produces quality ROI, and increases conversion rates, but not everyone in your organization sees and appreciates the value that search engine optimization can bring to the table. When the skeptics sit in the window offices and spend lots of time making important decisions, it may prove difficult to convert them into SEO fans. Sometimes it’s like trying to convince your grandmother to use Google instead of the ten pound, 2000 page phonebook to find the closest light bulb shop. (yes they exist, and Austin has one) No matter your digital immigration status, there are proven tactics to turn even the most stubborn of skeptics into an SEO fanatic.

Before I begin, please note: There is no SEO Chia Pet solution. These five tactics don’t work overnight, nor do they contain any pixie-dust qualities as seen on the Disney channel. Simply put, this is not a quick process. Most companies are like large ships maneuvering carefully through the icy waters of today’s globally-crowded markets. It takes time to turn or redirect a ship, and investing in SEO to improve natural search traffic and revenue is no different. However, these tactics can be effective and pay off in the long run. Here are five tactics that can prove to the skeptics that natural search has value for the company.

Tactic #1: Run a sample campaign

Select a few pages on the website to optimize with a few of SEO’s best practices. Most likely, the changes you will need to make will be in the page’s source coding. Choose a highly-competitive keyword to target for each page. Make sure the keywords are peppered throughout the pages and include the keyword in the page titles. Create an appropriate meta description and organize the inbound and outbound links. Run the campaign for one month while constantly monitoring rank, conversions, and revenue. You may find higher rankings for the pages, along with more traffic, higher revenue and some ROI that those skeptics can dip their chips in. For more tactics, please read on.

Tactic #2: Get Executive Support

If you company is larger than Terrell Owen’s ego, a solid SEO strategy may span several departments and more than a few roles. It is vital to get executive support to ensure that everyone who is working on the sample campaign actually cares. If you can only gain the support from a few of the members, the SEO will be less effective. Get an early start and find a few of the executives on your side. Make sure you show the test results and ongoing SEO plan, not only to your executive backing, but to the skeptics as well. Management is more likely to jump on a data bandwagon, rather than a ‘technology train’.

Tactic #3: Identify key roles

Team members need to understand their roles in the SEO process, as well as the ‘language’ of the brand and the customer. There should be three groups within the team: Website content creators, who need to learn the concepts of SEO, like targeting keywords and contextual linking. Website infrastructure creators, who need to learn about the best SEO practices for metadata, tags, and optimizing URLs. Product Managers, who must manage the customer and brand language and balance them for optimal natural search. Also, it doesn’t hurt to designate a ‘search champion’, or someone who can be responsible for their team’s efficiency.

Tactic #4: Educate

It is important that everyone in the company, whether it is 10 or 10,000, must understand the importance of SEO and how it will improve the business. You can use presentations and workshops to give employees hands-on experience. Videos are also available to post on an internal website and more accessible to teach employees on their own schedule. Toolkits can also be passed out or posted on the internal website with information on SEO and steps necessary for optimizing a web page.

Tactic #5: Start small

Baby steps, my friend. Start with the basics, keyword targeting, renaming page titles and copy, and having good meta-descriptions. Trust me, applying SEO where there was no SEO will have visible results. Save the major projects for when the skeptics are extinct and avoid discouraging coworkers who are just learning about SEO for the first time.

You will be slowly, but surely, changing the language and culture of your company. Remember, SEO requires continuous effort. Everyone needs to care about natural search to keep it working as efficiently as it can. A good sign that people care is when you hear the new SEO language being spoken in conversations that don’t include you. These tactics can and will turn the ship into a new and progressive course towards a more success future. If your company doesn’t have the capacity for in-house SEO, but still understand and want to incorporate its strategy into your marketing mix, give us a call here at Volacci. We are fanatical about your ranking, in love with your brand, and passionate about your profit. We are here for you with purposeful, proactive communication that guarantees that you will make money with us, or we will work free until you do.

Volacci. Your Profit. Our Passion.