Selling The Benefits Of SEO In A Large Enterprise
This is the first of a two part series on selling SEO in a large enterprise. Part 2 will be published as my next Industrial Strength column. In Part 1, the focus will be on why getting search traffic is important to an organization. Part 2 will explore some of the consequences of that realization.
In many large enterprises, when SEO is first introduced, it happens because some internal person is championing its cause. If you are that person, chances are really good that you are facing some very interesting challenges related to the ignorance of others in the company. They probably think you are speaking Swahili to them.
You can recreate this phenomenon very easily. Try explaining what SEO is to a group of your neighbors. Undoubtedly, you will get a lot of blank stares, and quite possibly some “what are you talking about?” type comments. Based on their frame of reference they can’t relate. This can—and does—also happen in the senior management team of a company.
One of the problems is that SEO is simply not something that is taught at any level (except at SEO conferences, and by SEO firms). There are no college courses on SEO that I know of, and SEO is not generally discussed in marketing or web development degree programs. As a result, SEO is something just about everyone learns on the job. People in an organization who don’t have to do SEO generally have no understanding of why SEO is important or what it means. Overcoming this ignorance is critical to the success of your organization’s web site.
Start with the business case
You have to tackle the challenge of persuading decision makers first. Here is how you do it:
Develop an estimate of the quantity of related search queries done every day. Start by writing down what search queries you think people might use when they are looking for products and services like yours. If you sell computers, you may end up writing down terms like “computers,” “notebooks,” “laptops,” “Dell,” “HP,” etc. Make sure your list of the terms you come up with is relatively thorough, but do not include your own brand terms in the list.
Once you have the list, use your favorite keyword research tool, such as WordTracker, Keyword Discovery, Google Trends, or whatever tool you prefer, to get the volumes of the individual search terms. Add them up, and multiply that result by 10. For more information on why we do that, check out my recent article onThe Decisive Advantage Of Optimizing For The Long Tail.
The rest is easy. Calculate the “total available market” by multiplying your calculated search volume times your site’s historical conversion rates times the average order size on your site. The calculation might look like this:
Of course you will not get 100% of the search traffic, but at this point we are just sizing the total available market.
Do a competitive analysis of the total available market
So who is actually getting that traffic, and all those orders? You may be getting some, which is great, but your competition is getting the rest of them. This is a critical point to emphasize. Someone is getting those orders. You can actually break this down a bit by doing another calculation. Start by taking the list of search terms and getting yourself a list of rankings of your competitors on each of them.
Then use the data released by AOL a few years back to see what each position in the SERPs will get in traffic (on average):
Run a set of calculations across all of the rankings for your competitors, times the click through rate, times 10. This will give you a crude estimate of the search traffic they are getting. Then apply your conversion rate and average order size data and you have an estimate of how much money your competitors are making from search. Here is what the calculation might look like:
This should start to get the juices flowing. Business that you don’t get is business that your competitors get, and this helps them become stronger. Make sure that everyone understands this crucial point before trying to explain the role of SEO and what it means, because there is no point in going further until they do.
While the importance of search is obvious to the readers of this column, it is not obvious to most people. Don’t assume that your management team buys in to this concept, because you will face roadblock after roadblock until they do. Sell the business case up front.