How to explain SEO to your boss

How to Explain SEO to Your Boss

I’d say many SEOs have been where you might be, trying to explain what you do to your boss and justify its importance for their business. We want to provide the perfect way to explain SEO to your boss for future generations of marketers. 


Getting Started!


Yes, unfortunately, the person who was responsible for hiring you might have absolutely no idea what ‘an SEO’ is, and that can be a tough pill to swallow. 

Battling with the so-called ‘higher ups’ has been a marketing staple well before the word ‘digital’ was involved. In my experience, a few colourful things can happen in these battles. It usually ends with someone annoyed, someone thinking they’re going to lose their job, and someone with dangerously little knowledge put in their place, sulking in the corner.  

We’ve actually covered the benefits of SEO services in a recent post, which you might be interested in. 

Sometimes, that could all be one person! Ideally, no one should feel like that. Whether you’re dealing with a Michael Scott, a Ron Swanson, a Mr Burns, or even a Jack Donaghy, here’s how you can explain SEO to your boss without tantrums or tears. 



mr burns gif, How to Explain SEO to Your Boss


SEO Refresher

As much as I don’t like to boil my cabbage twice, for the sake of you, the reader, let’s just have a quick SEO refresher. 

SEO stands for search engine optimisation, one of the many techniques within digital marketing, and is often seen as one of the larger techniques. Breaking it down as simple as possible, SEO is the process of improving a website to increase its visibility on search engines with the end goal of helping a business reach its intended audience. 

It’s often a long, well-thought-out strategy or campaign and can encompass technical and material processes to help improve overall visibility. It’s a cyclical process that needs to be nurtured and monitored regularly. So, winning aside, where PPC might be the Hare in the digital marketing race, SEO is the tortoise.


How to Explain SEO to Your Boss

Whether you’re begging for more budget or facing a dreaded presentation, finding the right answers to help you communicate your technical knowledge to a non-marketer boss can be challenging. In this section, we hope to catch all scenarios in which a boss or manager could ask you to explain SEO. 

A good place to start is to actively avoid technical or complicated jargon. We’re not saying you should practice or have planned responses, but generally, try to avoid terminology that a non-marketer would not be familiar with. Having a great understanding of the basic techniques of digital marketing would be a great starting point.

When talking about strategies, plans, or what you’ve recently been working on, explain it by focusing not necessarily on the how but the why and the expected results. SEO doesn’t provide immediate actionable results like a paid campaign might, which your boss could perceive negatively, but keeping the overall goals and business objectives in mind will help convince them. 

If all else fails, here are some typical types of bosses and more straightforward approaches when considering how to explain SEO to them. 


Has absolutely no clue:

  • Avoid the jargon, and use a basic explanation of SEO. Your goal here is not only to explain but also to convince. 


Has a little bit of knowledge:

  • This can be dangerous; depending on the type of person, you could find yourself treading on eggshells or running the risk of nerding out in front of your colleagues. If the floor feels eggshelly, stand your ground but approach it softly; if they’re wrong, it’s your responsibility to impart your knowledge. If you’re nerding out, try not to exclude everyone else in the room and stay on track. Use a mix of less technical terms. 


Has a lot of knowledge:

  • This provides an opportunity to learn, and chances are they’re testing your knowledge. Remain calm, stick to your guns but accept when you’re wrong. Be technical when it’s needed and use jargon where necessary. If their knowledge outweighs yours, don’t take it personally; learn from it. 


Avoiding an Argument

I’m not saying an argument is inevitable, but say you were called into a meeting about the progress you have made with SEO. Already, you may be feeling defensive. It could get heated, wires could be crossed, and feelings hurt. The most important thing for you to do is to prepare and present yourself confidently. 

It is also important to separate yourself from what they’re saying about you as a marketer or a professional and as you the person. Confidence is key, but if you find yourself without the knowledge or experience to answer questions, then don’t make it up. More often than not, they’ll respect you for being honest. 

Honesty, confidence and professionalism. 

the office, How to Explain SEO


Answering Common Questions and Dealing with Excuses.

Not to reinforce a terrible boss scenario, but depending on their knowledge or personality, you could have to answer common questions or deal with excuses. We’ve compiled five of the most common excuses and questions that will help in your quest. 


It’s too slow

SEO isn’t exactly the quickest digital marketing technique, we’ll admit that, so they’re not actually technically wrong. It’s near impossible to get to position 1 on Google within an hour. However, what SEO does is provide an iterative, lasting process to increase your online visibility that will lead to more users, higher chances for conversions and more brand recognition. 


It’s too expensive.

If I had a penny! Whether it’s the internal resources i.e. time, money or software, equipment etc or if it’s the cost of some external marketing agencies, this is a common excuse. To which I would immediately think, ‘well, why are we having this conversation?’, but I’d then cool my jets and put on a nice smile and remind them of the potential benefits.

SEO costs less than other digital marketing techniques; it can provide much higher ROI than other services, and an SEO-optimised site can be invaluable when working in tandem with a sales team. 


Why do we need to spend more resources on this when we already rank well?

Good point, to which I would say, why rank well when you could rank perfectly? There are too many variables to this; ranking well is great if that’s what you want out of your SEO. If you’re a little more ambitious, you will want to rank greatly for keywords that are more relevant, data-led and meet the right user intent. 


I’ve read that SEO won’t provide the results we want. 

Sceptical are we now? That’s cool; all you have to do is reinforce the potential benefits that SEO can provide. The benefits should match your business goals and objectives and be bold and confident in SEO’s ability to provide ample ROI. 

SEO can effect much more than just your site rankings check out this blog on – Why use an SEO agency for better user experience for more benefits of SEO

What’s the point in ranking highly?

What’s the point in taking your clothes off before you shower? What’s the point of putting your shoes on after you’ve put your trousers on? Because it just makes sense. If you’ve got a website, you want to be visible in search rankings, and you want your website to generate sales and goal completions to satisfy your business objectives. 


We hope you’ve got the ammunition to fight the battle of explaining SEO to your boss! Thanks for taking the time to read this post, have a brilliant day. 


We’re a full-service digital marketing agency offering a wide range of services, but I have a hunch that you want to know more about our SEO management services, so take a look! 

Don’t fancy taking this all on by yourself? Why not get in touch with one of our SEO specialists so they can explain SEO to your boss for you?



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