So many people to struggle to convince the boss of the importance of SEO, but how many focus on the metrics? Most businesspeople are numbers-oriented, looking for profit margins, sales, and other measurements to run the business. Sometimes we search marketers don't think about the business, instead trying to explain how search works or why it is important. You might find more success if you focus on the numbers that will make the boss sit up and take notice.


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And what numbers might they be? The same ones we just talked about. The owner, the CEO, you manager—it doesn't matter what the title is—each want to know how much search will move the business.

Don't waste your time explaining ranking algorithms, content theming, or link analysis. Instead, focus on the numbers that explain the value of SEO. Start at the top of this list if you can, working your way down if necessary:

  • Return on Investment. If you can show how the money you spend on search comes back even bigger, you probably don't need anything else. To do that, you need to be able to calculate your costs and (harder) the resulting revenue. E-commerce companies can do this, but most companies that sell offline can't.
  • Online conversions Perhaps you can't measure revenue and ROI, but can you show how people got as far as they could. Whether it's an e-mail contact, a phone call, or some other point where customers switch to offline, by showing how your online conversions increase, you're at least suggesting an impact on sales.
  • Site traffic Maybe you can't count conversions, but you can at least count traffic to your site. If you can't do that, you're working with the wrong people.

So, no more talk of search rankings and snippets and keyword popularity—at least with the boss. Stick to what works. Focus on at least traffic measurements to start, but don't settle. If you can only count traffic today, you need to work to identify all online conversions and instrument your Web analytics system to count them. Then, focus on tying every online conversion to an offline sale, so that you can prove ROI.

If you focus on what will persuade your boss, you won't waste your time explaining what they don't care about, Instead, build the metrics system that tells them what they want to know.

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May 31, 2011

Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, text analytics, and web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.

Mike's previous appearances include Text Analytics World, Rutgers Business School, SEMRush webinar, ClickZ Live.

Mike also founded and writes for Biznology, is the co-author of Outside-In Marketing (with James Mathewson) and the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (now in its 3rd edition, and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.


"You might find more success if you focus on the numbers that will make the boss sit up and take notice."

Excellent point! Sometimes the only way to convince a higher up of the value of search marketing is to show them numbers. Hard data is a lot more convincing because it is something tangible, something they can see and analyze. Once they understand that SEO/SEM works, it won't be as hard to convince them of what needs to happen.

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