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How to Build a Business Case for SEO | Selling SEO Internally Series Part I

Kara Thurkettle from NovosKara Thurkettle in SEO, Strategy

5th September, 2023

How to Build a Business Case for SEO

Hey there, fellow in-house SEOs (or anyone who needs to justify why SEO is necessary). Buckle up because we’re about to embark on an exhilarating journey – selling SEO internally to your senior stakeholders in a three-part series called “Selling SEO Internally Series”. It’s time to unleash the power of SEO and get buy-in for what we think is the most crucial marketing channel (but we’re probably biased.)


The series will include three different guides titled:


  • How to Build a Business Case for SEO
  • How to Understand Your Senior Stakeholders & Respond to Their Objections
  • Creating a Roadmap for SEO


We’ll cover several essential parts, such as:

  • When selling SEO internally to senior stakeholders, what steps should you take to build a business case for SEO?
  • What things should you highlight to senior stakeholders when selling SEO internally?


When selling SEO internally to senior stakeholders, what steps should you take to build a business case for SEO?


To build a compelling business case for SEO when selling it internally to senior stakeholders, follow these essential steps:

Step #1: Understand who your internal stakeholders are.


Know your allies and adversaries. Understand internal stakeholders, identify key decision-makers, and grasp their SEO-related priorities and concerns. Tailor your business case to their needs for maximum impact.


  • C-Suite Executives (CEO, CFO, CMO): These visionary leaders seek strategies that align with long-term growth and financial success. It would be best to emphasise ROI and how SEO contributes to the company’s overall vision.
  • Head of Digital Marketing and Content Marketing: These professionals focus on brand visibility, lead generation, and content strategy. Showcase how SEO can amplify marketing efforts and attract a highly targeted audience.
  • Head of eCommerce: Revenue and sales growth are paramount to the Head of eCommerce. Illustrate how SEO can increase online sales and boost conversion rates.
  • Head of IT or Web Development: Technical aspects matter to the IT and Web Development teams. Highlight the importance of SEO-friendly website structure and how it enhances user experience.
  • Senior Management Team: This team has a holistic view of the company’s goals. Emphasise how SEO aligns with their overarching strategies and supports the company’s mission.


Part II of the series will delve deeper into understanding internal stakeholders and tailoring your business case accordingly.


Step #2: Research and gather data.


Conduct a comprehensive SEO audit to gather valuable insights and opportunities. Identify key metrics and KPIs to showcase SEO’s potential impact on performance and growth. Key elements to focus on:


  • Keyword Research: Identify relevant keywords with substantial search volume and align them with your business offerings. You can estimate the ROI of individual keywords with the following formula: Keyword Search volume x CTR x Conversion Rate x AoV for pages related to that keyword. CTR estimates can be taken from this study by AWR. There are also a few calculators online you can use that are less tested, like this one from Calculator Genius.
  • Competitor Analysis: Analyse competitors’ SEO strategies to find gaps and potential areas for improvement. At NOVOs, we always take your top 5-10 niche competitors and conduct a content gap analysis to discover what these are.
  • Website Performance: Assess website speed, user experience, and mobile responsiveness to enhance overall site performance. It would help if you also looked for online case studies showing how these metrics can impact conversions.
  • Backlink Profile: Evaluate the quality and quantity of backlinks to understand your site’s authority and reputation.


Data gathering is the foundation of a convincing business case, leading to actionable insights that ignite success.


Step #3: Establish SEO goals and objectives.


Define clear and measurable SEO goals aligned with the organisation’s mission. Show how SEO contributes to revenue growth and overall success. Some examples of SEO goals include:


  • Increase Organic Traffic: Aim to achieve a specific percentage increase in organic website traffic over a defined period.
  • Boost Conversion Rates: Set targets for increasing the number of conversions and leads generated through organic search.
  • Improve Keyword Rankings: Target specific keywords and measure their upward movement in search engine rankings. You’ll also want to make sure you’re targeting the right keywords based on when they are most seasonally relevant.
  • Enhance Brand Visibility: Measure your brand’s online visibility by tracking impressions and mentions in search results.


Clearly defined goals provide a roadmap for success and facilitate measuring the impact of your SEO efforts.


Step #4: Craft the business case narrative.


Craft a compelling narrative showcasing the benefits of SEO. Highlight increased visibility, targeted traffic, and brand credibility. Address objections with well-crafted responses and use case studies to support your points. Here’s how to weave your SEO tale:


  • Highlight Increased Visibility: Paint a vivid picture of how SEO can elevate your organisation’s online presence, making it more accessible to your target audience.
  • Targeted Traffic and Lead Generation: Showcase how SEO draws relevant and high-quality traffic, increasing the likelihood of conversions and lead generation.
  • Brand Credibility and Trust: Illustrate how a strong SEO presence instils trust and credibility in potential customers, leading to higher brand recognition and loyalty.
  • Address Objections: Anticipate potential concerns, such as initial costs or time investments, and provide well-crafted responses that dispel doubts.
  • Case Studies and Success Stories: Incorporate case studies and real-world examples to add weight to your arguments. Many people in the industry are keen to share examples of how SEO has provided a clear ROI for their clients.


Part II of the series will delve deeper into crafting a compelling business case narrative.


Step #5: Provide financial projects and ROI analysis.


Present financial projections and ROI analysis to demonstrate SEO’s cost-effectiveness and potential returns on investment. Here are some financial forecasts and ROI analyses to showcase the value of SEO:


  • Cost-Benefit Analysis: Compare the costs of implementing SEO strategies with the potential benefits, emphasising the long-term gains.
  • ROI Projections: Use data and past performance to estimate the return on investment over time.
  • Lifetime Value of a Customer (LTV): Calculate the potential LTV of customers acquired through SEO efforts, highlighting the long-lasting impact.
  • Competitive Analysis: Showcase how SEO investment will position your organisation ahead of competitors in the digital landscape.


The assurance of long-term financial rewards reinforces strategic investments. To learn more about understanding ROI, look at our guide.


Step #6: Ensure SEO is aligned with company objectives and strategies.


Show how SEO aligns with company objectives and enhances the customer experience. Demonstrate its synergy with other marketing initiatives. Here’s how you show how SEO blends harmoniously with existing company strategies:


  • Revenue and Growth: Demonstrate how SEO can be a driving force behind revenue growth and sustained expansion.
  • Brand and Reputation Management: Illustrate how SEO enhances your brand’s online reputation and credibility.
  • User Experience (UX): Showcase how SEO practices contribute to a seamless and user-friendly website experience.
  • Marketing and Content Strategy: Align SEO with broader marketing and content initiatives to reinforce the digital strategy.


Harmonious alignment ensures the collective strength of the organisation’s initiatives.


Step #7: Build a roadmap or action plan for SEO implementation.


An expedition without a map is bound to wander. Create a clear and structured roadmap for successful SEO implementation:


  • SEO Strategies and Tactics: Outline the specific SEO strategies and tactics to be employed. You also want to ensure you have highlighted an ICE Score on these.
  • Timeline and Milestones: Set a realistic timeline with achievable milestones to measure progress.
  • Roles and Responsibilities: Allocate roles and responsibilities among team members to ensure accountability.


Part III of the series will delve deeper into building a comprehensive roadmap for SEO implementation.


Step #8: Identify potential risks and challenges to implementation.


Address potential risks and challenges in SEO implementation. Develop strategies to mitigate them and build stakeholders’ confidence. Some you may encounter include:


  • Algorithm Updates: Address the impact of search engine algorithm changes and how your strategies adapt.
  • Resource Constraints: Outline plans for managing resource limitations during implementation. We have also provided a guide on implementing SEO tickets, which you can find here.
  • Competitive Landscape: Address strategies to counter competitor challenges and maintain a competitive edge.


Part III of the series will delve deeper into identifying and mitigating potential risks in SEO implementation.

Step #9: Implement and test changes.


Implement SEO strategies and changes outlined in the business case. Test their effectiveness and make adjustments as needed. Your strategy may include things like:


  • On-Page Optimisation: Implement keyword optimisation, meta tags, and relevant content to improve search visibility.
  • Technical SEO Updates: Address technical aspects like site speed, mobile optimisation, and URL structure.
  • User Experience (UX) Enhancements: Improve website navigation and overall user experience to enhance engagement.


Continuous testing and optimisation lead to the refinement of your SEO strategy for maximum impact.


Step #10: Measure and report on success.


Measure the impact of SEO using selected metrics and KPIs. Provide regular reports showcasing achievements and successes. Popular KPIs to include:


  • Organic Traffic and Conversion Rates: Measure the growth in organic website traffic and how it translates into conversions.
  • Keyword Rankings: Track the progress of targeted keywords in search engine rankings.
  • Return on Investment (ROI): Analyse the actual returns and validate the ROI projections.
  • User Engagement Metrics: Monitor user behaviour, such as time on site and bounce rates, to assess user engagement.


Regular and transparent reporting keeps stakeholders informed and engaged in the journey.


With these ten steps, you can build a compelling business case for SEO, gain support from internal stakeholders and unlock the path to digital success.


What things should you definitely highlight to senior stakeholders when selling SEO internally?


#1: SEO improves organic visibility.


Explain how SEO enhances your online visibility, making your website rank higher in search engine results. This means a broader reach and the allure of attracting potential customers actively searching for your products or services.


#2: SEO provides high-quality targeting traffic.


Unleash the power of SEO as it directs relevant and high-quality traffic to your website. By optimising for specific keywords and user intent, you attract visitors who are genuinely interested in what you offer, increasing the likelihood of conversion.


#3: SEO is cost-effective.


Showcase how SEO’s cost-effectiveness surpasses traditional advertising. It targets users actively searching for your offerings, making each click more valuable and cost-efficient.


#4: SEO is measurable.


Reveal the beauty of SEO’s measurable results through analytics. Demonstrate how it provides valuable insights into its impact on overall business objectives, showcasing its actual value.


#5: SEO increases conversions and revenue.


Convey the impact of SEO on conversions and revenue, as it attracts the right audience and ensures a positive user experience. SEO’s magic leads to higher conversion rates and increased revenue opportunities.


#6: SEO enhances brand credibility.


Illustrate how a strong SEO presence builds trust and credibility for your brand. Ranking prominently in search results fosters confidence in potential customers, establishing your brand as a reliable and reputable option.


#7: SEO makes you competitive.


Explain how SEO empowers you to outshine competitors in the digital landscape. Higher rankings in search results give you a competitive edge, attracting more clicks and potential customers.


#8: SEO is a sustainable long-term growth strategy.


Highlight that SEO is not a short-term solution but a sustainable approach for long-term growth. Once established, it generates organic traffic and potential leads without constant financial investments.


#9: SEO improves user experience.


Emphasise how SEO goes hand-in-hand with providing a seamless user experience. By optimising your website’s structure and content, you create a user-friendly interface that encourages longer visits and repeat engagements.


#10: SEO aligns with customer behaviour and market trends.


Demonstrate how SEO caters to modern customer search behaviour, effectively aligning your content and website with their needs and desires.

Kara Thurkettle from Novos
Article by Kara Thurkettle

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