Selling SEO services to clients often takes up more time than the SEO work that needs to be done in the first place. I saw a funny pie chart the on a blog the other day on the SEOMoz blog that illustrated the issue perfectly, as such:
How SEO Consultants Spend Their Time
Amusing, but discouraging in its cold truth. When selling SEO, you can start with the most obvious reasoning first: SEO is superb, fantastic, and vital because it gets your site FREE traffic from people looking for things.
Who doesn’t want free traffic, especially when that traffic consists of people who just raised their hand at that very moment to say “I’m looking for this specific thing”, and you just happen to have that specific thing right there on your site? A match made in heaven. That’s how to sell SEO, or at least that’s where you start.
The barrier to some companies getting into SEO is the feeling that it’s going to be a lot of work and potential expense, without a guaranteed reward at the end of the process. Can we guarantee you the #1 spot on Google for your ideal keyword? Well, no we can’t (and if anyone says they can, they are conning you), but if I could guarantee it, I bet you’d be more likely to start an SEO campaign. It’s the intangibles and the un-knowables that get in the way of companies getting over that hump.
So here’s some of the less obvious selling points for SEO… the indirect pitch, if you will:
SEO Selling Point #1 – It’s About Content:
SEO does not have to be seen as a separate process, disconnected from the original purpose of your site. If your company has a content strategy, SEO is an extension of that, closing the loop by bringing an audience to that content.
You’re publishing content for a reason, we assume, which ostensibly includes the idea that it’s available to those who may look up your company. If you are going to expend resource making content, finish the job using SEO, by connecting that content to those who self-select to be interested in it.
SEO Selling Point #2 – Marketplace Intelligence:
In the process of SEO, your teams will endeavor to understand why and how people find your site, what they search for, what people are saying about you and your competitors online, what your competitors’ strategies are, how people are finding your competitors instead of you, etc.
This work has multiple uses… the insight as to what’s happening in and around your site is useful in paid advertising strategy, product development, creative development, and many other mar-com functions.
Challenging your team to understand the things they’ll need to do SEO makes your company smarter, meaner, and more connected to the reality of the marketplace. Amortize the cost of the SEO work across other business functions, such as competitive intelligence or market research.
SEO Selling Point #3 – It’s Measurable:
While SEO results can never be guaranteed, the practice does offer some quantitative certainties. You can measure your ROI with SEO, and compare it quite easily to other traffic or revenue-generating tactics you may be employing.
A good SEO effort will be based around a well-chosen keyword profile for your site, and odds are that your pre-SEO site is not ranking well for those words. Once you develop the profile, you can get traffic estimates for the keywords, and make a estimate of the size of the business opportunity for those words.
When you implement SEO on your site, you can track the specific traffic from those searches and measure it against real business results. Try doing that with brand advertising, or with social media, where the connecting paths from discovery to action as not as clear-cut.
There are other arguments to be made in selling SEO services, but I like these three in particular because they all place SEO in the context of the type of standard business thinking that most companies have at the top-of-mind: Customer communication, competitive intelligence, and measurable results. SEO can compete for scarce resource on all of these fronts.
Jim Magary is an SEO Consultant who can help you sell SEO to your clients, and help craft and execute a marketable plan to increase business-building traffic. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact him here to find out how it all works.