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Building An SEO Business Case Your Boss Can’t Say No To

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Building An SEO Business Case Your Boss Can’t Say No To


Scientists may tell you the last dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago, but they haven’t met your boss.

The very definition of old school; she’s the kind of person who only begrudgingly accepted email because she’s still convinced the internet is a fad.

But she’s the decision-maker and the person who controls the purse strings. How do you convince her of the importance of SEO?

How do you build a case for adding it to your marketing plan and allocating the resources to make it successful?

If only there was some sort of handy guide you could refer to… oh wait. We’ve got just the thing.

Why SEO Should Be Part Of Every Marketing Plan

In 2021, American consumers spent $870.78 billion online, or roughly 19% of total purchases. And that’s not even including all the in-person sales that were driven by web research and awareness.

Quite simply, every business needs a website.

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And because websites with no visitors are of no use at all, every business needs SEO as part of their marketing plan.

This article will give you a step-by-step process to build a business case to add search engine optimization to yours.

Why You Need A Business Case

A business case is a formal justification for undertaking a project. It evaluates the benefit, cost, and risk of alternative options and provides a rationale for a specific solution.

Too many small businesses, overwhelmed by the enormity of day-to-day operations, completely forgo business cases.

But without one, you’re probably wasting valuable resources on projects with little benefit, losing sight of project goals, and struggling with proper prioritization.

This is something you don’t want to do with SEO, particularly if you’re trying to convince someone else of its importance.

You need a good business plan to make your case, one that describes the following:

  1. The opportunity.
  2. The problem in the current system.
  3. The solution.

This doesn’t have to be overly long; in fact, being concise is often better.

But it does need to clearly describe the vision and goal of your SEO strategy, the data to support your contentions, and the technological tools you’ll need.

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You need to include financial projections about cost and return on investment, ideally on a month-by-month basis for the first year, as well as information about when you believe your SEO project will become cash-flow positive.

Building Your SEO Business Case

Below, we’ll work you through the process and help you develop a case your boss will have to sign off on.

Conduct A Website Audit

Like any good plan, your business case should start with research. And this means a comprehensive website audit, which will provide your team with a performance baseline.

Begin by evaluating your current SEO status and strategy, if you have one.

Determine what’s working at bringing in traffic to your website.

Do you have common keywords that are leading to your site? What pages are visitors landing on most?

Identify the opportunities that your strongest pieces of content provide.

Look at both on-page factors like keyword density, optimized images, headers, and URL names, and off-page factors like backlink quality, site structure, internal linking, and 404 errors.

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Knowing where you’re starting from will help you accurately forecast the results your SEO campaigns will generate.

Intimidated by this process? Don’t be. There are numerous free tools you can use for site audits that will give you the information you need.

Do A Competitive Analysis

SEO is a zero-sum game. The traffic you’re landing is the traffic your competitors aren’t. And vice-versa.

With this in mind, it’s absolutely crucial that you know exactly what they’re up to, so you can find why they’re outranking you and discover opportunities to swipe visitor clicks from them.

But beware – your biggest SEO rivals may not be your biggest industry competitors; they may be only tangentially related companies that use similar keywords.

Figure out who you’re up against with an SEO competitive analysis. You’ll want to ask (and answer) questions like:

  • What keywords do competitors rank for?
  • Which keywords are they not utilizing effectively?
  • How are they promoting their content?
  • What is their SEO strategy?
  • How is their on-page content optimized?
  • What is the quality of their backlinks?
  • Are they using paid ads? To what effect?

Not sure how to find all this information?

Aside from the always helpful articles you’ll find on this website, there are also a number of essential tools you can use to figure out just what the competition is up to.

Speak To Your Target Audience Based On Intent

In a digital world, it can be easy to forget that there are actual people on the other side of your campaigns and that you’re not just creating content for search engines.

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Take some time to identify your target audience persona and research why this hypothetical person is visiting your website. You should identify:

  • Who is a typical target?
  • What do they want?
  • What keywords or phrases are they searching for?

Some people find it helpful to create a character or characters to whom they can then speak directly to with content.

For example, an online hardware store may have a persona called Jim, based on an imagined customer:

Jim is a middle-aged man from the Midwest. He has a good job, but not enough disposable income to hire a professional for home repairs, so he does things himself. He knows his way around tools. He is a family man who enjoys sports, barbecue, and watching television.

By envisioning Jim as a real person, some writers find it easier to speak directly to him, using language he would feel comfortable with, which in turn leads to better results.

You don’t have to go this far, though the more you understand who you’re targeting, the better your SEO campaigns will perform.

Create A Monthly Content Plan

Now that you know who you’re targeting, it’s time to start planning to reach these people.

Create a month-by-month plan outlining your content.

Determine what you will focus on. This could be a theme like the holiday season or a product you want to push. Not everything needs to stay on theme, but it’s generally easier to plan a month’s worth of content when it’s all related.

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Next, review your calendar to identify key dates like events, product launches, and affiliate promotions.

Armed with this information, it’s time to create a high-level content plan that presents the big picture of what you’ll be doing for the month.

Map out promotions and core content like blog posts.

Not sure what your priorities should be? We can help with that.

Want to go even further in-depth and develop an SEO strategy for the entire year? We have a free ebook that’s just what you need.

List Your Keywords

Of all the parts of SEO, perhaps the most important is keywords.

The foundation of an overall SEO strategy: it tell search engines what your content is all about and why it’s the perfect solution for their needs.

So, how do you find the keywords that are most useful for your goals? By this point in building your SEO business case, you should be well prepared to identify them.

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There are a number of tools and techniques you should use, beginning with brainstorming a list of topics relevant to your content.

Come up with a list of seed keywords and then use a good keyword research tool to identify others.

Because you have already identified user intent, this will be helpful in finding long-tail keywords.

Likewise, your previous work investigating the competition will come in handy here by helping you figure out what keywords are working for them, so you can use them yourself.

Build The Workplace Relationships You Need

Now that you’re armed with the plan for a winning SEO strategy, it’s time to start assembling the resources to put it into action.

You don’t have to hire an SEO specialist or hire an outside firm to get started (though that can be a very good idea), because you likely have many of the pieces you need already in your organization.

Marketing, IT, and sales should all be brought into the fold.

While some people may be less than thrilled by what they’ll perceive as more work for them, explain they you’re all on the same team and working toward the same goal.

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Build rapport with them by showing them how their individual contributions will make your SEO undertaking more successful.

Spend some time educating them on the process and be sure to highlight the importance of each of their roles.

Strengthen Your Case With Facts And Data

At the end of the day, most executives only care about one thing: Does it provide a return on investment?

That’s what’s great about SEO – it provides a wealth of data points you can use to show not only that what you’re doing is worthwhile, but that it’s paying off too.

And there is ample evidence to show why you need an SEO plan.

For example, you’ll surely want to mention that Google is responsible for 92% of web searches, with more than 267 million unique visitors in the U.S. alone. Or that 56% of web traffic comes from mobile devices.

If you’re promoting a paid component to your overall SEO plan, be sure to highlight that for every $1 a business spent on Google ads, they made an average of $2 in revenue.

Using this data, you can tell a compelling story that covers more than the black and red of a balance sheet and encourages buy-in.

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Measure And Track Your Success

SEO is a long game and not one that will reap immediate rewards. You need to make this clear to stakeholders right from the start.

But with a solid strategy and a little old-fashioned elbow grease, you’ll soon start seeing measurable results.

Google is great at providing you with factual support using key metrics like:

  • Organic traffic.
  • Keyword ranking.
  • Click-through rate.
  • Bounce rate.
  • Conversion rate.
  • Time spent on page.

By carefully tracking your performance, you’ll get a better understanding of where and how you’re succeeding, as well as identify areas for improvement.

Conclusion

SEO is a good investment for any organization, but it requires an investment upfront in both time, budget, and resources.

While results are not always predictable, SEO is one of those fields where you get out what you put in.

If you throw together a slap-dash plan without much thought, you’re not going to get the quality results you would get from a more methodical approach.

But by developing a carefully thought out business case for SEO and highlighting its potential, it’s very difficult for even the most curmudgeonly boss to deny its value.

From increasing your customer base to driving new sales, there is no question a quality strategy will help achieve company-wide goals.

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Now get to work – you have an SEO business case to build.

More Resources:


Featured Image: Indypendenz/Shutterstock

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WordPress Considers Historic Development Change

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WordPress Considers Historic Development Change

Matt Mullenweg, developer of WordPress and CEO of Autommatic, proposed no longer adding new features to the WordPress, pivoting instead to a plugin-first policy.

This new approach to the future of WordPress has already resulted in a new feature intended for the next version of WordPress to be dropped entirely.

Canonical plugins are said to offer a way to keep improving WordPress on a faster schedule.

But some WordPress core contributors expressed the opinion that publisher user experience may suffer.

Canonical Plugins

First discussed in 2009, canonical plugins is a way to develop new features in the form of plugins.

The goal of this approach is to keep the WordPress core fast and lean while also encouraging development of experimental features in the form of plugins.

The original 2009 proposal described it like this:

“Canonical plugins would be plugins that are community developed (multiple developers, not just one person) and address the most popular functionality requests with superlative execution.

…There would be a very strong relationship between core and these plugins that ensured that a) the plugin code would be secure and the best possible example of coding standards, and b) that new versions of WordPress would be tested against these plugins prior to release to ensure compatibility.”

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This approach to features and options is also referred to as Plugin First, to emphasize how features will first appear in the form of plugins.

These plugins are called canonical because they are developed by the WordPress core development team as opposed to non-canonical plugins that are created by third parties that might limit features in order to encourage purchase of a pro-version.

Integration of canonical plugins into the WordPress core itself would be considered once the plugin technology has proven itself to be popular and essential to the majority of users.

The benefit of this new approach to WordPress would be to avoid adding new features that might not be needed by the majority of users.

Plugin-first could be seen to be in keeping with the WordPress philosophy called Decisions, Not Options, which seeks to avoid burdening users with layers of technical options.

By offloading different features and functionalities to plugins, a user won’t have to wade through enabling or disabling functionalities they need, don’t need or don’t understand.

The WordPress design philosophy states:

“It’s our duty as developers to make smart design decisions and avoid putting the weight of technical choices on our end users.”

Canonical Plugins the Future?

Matt Mullenweg published a post titled, Canonical Plugins Revisited, in which he made the case that this is the way that WordPress should be developed moving forward.

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He wrote:

“We are reaching a point where core needs to be more editorial and say “no” to features coming in as ad hoc as they sometimes do, and my hope is that more Make teams use this as an opportunity to influence the future of WordPress through a plugin-first approach that gives them the luxury of faster development and release cycles (instead of three times per year), less review overhead, and and path to come into core if the plugin becomes a runaway success.”

The first casualty of this new approach is the cancellation of integrating WebP image conversion into the next version of WordPress, WordPress 6.1, currently scheduled for November 2022.

Plugin-First is Controversial

The shift to a plugin-first development process was subjected to debate in the comments section.

Some developers, such as core contributor Jon Brown, expressed reservations about the proposal to switch to developing with canonical plugins.

They commented:

“The problem remains that there are too many complicated plugins standing in for what would be a simple optional feature.

Plugins are _not_ a user-friendly option to core settings. First users have to discover there is a plugin, then they have negotiated yet another settings screen and updates and maintenance of that plugin.”

The commenter used the example of a commenting functionality that is currently served by mutliple bloated plugins as a less than ideal user experience.

They noted that having one canonical plugin to solve a problem is preferable to the current state where desirable options can only be found on bloated third party plugins.

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But they also said that having a settings option within core, without the need for a plugin, could present a better user experience.

They continued:

“Now, I do think Canonical plugins are a better situation than 6+ bloated plugins like exist here, but so would a single checkbox added to the settings page in core to do this. Which would further improve the UX and discovery issues inherent in plugins.”

Ultimately, the commenter expressed the idea that the concept of canonical plugins seemed like a way to shut down discussions about features that should be considered, so that the conversation never happens.

“Canonical plugins” seems like a weaponized tool to derail discussions the same way “decisions not options” has become for years.”

That last statement is a reference to frustrations felt by some core contributors with the inability to add options for features because of the “decisions, not options” philosophy.

Others also disagreed with the plugin-first approach:

“Canonical plugin sounds grand but it will further increase maintenance burden on maintainers.

In my opinion, it’s no go.

It will be much more better to include some basic features in core itself instead of further saying – It’s a good place for plugin.”

Someone else pointed out a flaw in plugin-first in that collecting user feedback might not be easy. If that’s the case then there might not be a good way to improve plugins in a way that meets user needs if those needs are unknown.

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They wrote:

“How can we better capture feedback from users?

Unless site owners are knowledgeable enough to report issues on GitHub or Trac (let’s be honest, no one reports plugin issues on Trac), there’s really no way to gather feedback from users to improve these recommended/official plugins. “

Canonical Plugins

WordPress development is evolving to make improvements faster. Core contributor comments indicate that there are many unresolved questions on how well this system will work for users.

An early indicator will be in what happens with the cancelled WebP feature that was previously intended to be integrated into the core and will now become a plugin.


Featured image by Shutterstock/Studio Romantic

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