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How to explain what SEO is and what its purpose is

To many C-level executives, SEO is a black box with too many levers and a great deal of unpredictability – at least to some extent. Not knowing exactly what SEO is and what purpose it serves other than “somehow manipulating Google” (one of many misconceptions about SEO still circulating among non-SEO people), you will likely get blank looks as you try to make an impression with industry jargon and jump feet first into the nerdy details.

Don’t get ahead of yourself. Rethink your approach.

To set the right expectations with senior management, they need to understand the high-level principles – the idea – of SEO along with its incremental benefits for the business. It’s about the bigger picture. Your presentation should be simple yet informative and help them get a grasp on how SEO can help drive significant ROI. The last thing you need is your executives shrugging it off because “SEO is just another business fad.”

To decipher what SEO is, illustrate how users search for your company with non-branded keywords, and use data to visualize what people are searching for. Show the monthly search volume for key terms that would drive relevant traffic to your website and how you're currently missing out on these potential users. One tip - there’s no better way to have a message land than by highlighting what the competition is doing better, so conduct a simple keyword research to give your C-level an idea of whether you outrank your competitors or come off worse (we bet that will get your CEO’s full attention).

Easy does it. Remember, keep it simple. Focus on the purpose of your SEO strategy, which is to generate more traffic to the company website, increase leads, conversions – and revenue. It’s all about the benefits and results.

Use data to support your pitch

How important is the search engine optimization to your overall marketing strategy?

Not at all important


Slightly important


Moderately important


Very important


Extremely important


It's anything but lonely at the top

The top listing in Google’s organic search results is prime real estate, getting 31.73% of all traffic compared to 24.7% for the second position and 18.7% for spot 3. If you rank on position 10, you will get a mere 3.1% of all clicks – not quite something to cheer about (nothing is more frustrating than seeing your website rank on the umpteenth page of Google).

SEO takes you ahead of the competition – and your C-suite will love it. While claiming Google’s top position is obviously important for a business, the great drop in traffic shows how big of an advantage websites ranking #1 have over competitors with lower rankings. The click-through-rate (CTR) rate decreases exponentially as you go down the ranks – moving up the ranks by just one position from #5 to #4 will drive more traffic than moving up ten positions from #20 to #10.

Click-through-rate (CTR) for ranks 1-5 in % (source: Backlinko)

Google’s top search result is 10x more likely to receive a click compared to a website ranking #10
Merck KgaA has increased organic traffic by 300% across markets through SEO

By using Siteimprove SEO, Merck KgaA increased organic traffic to its website by 300% since the relaunch in 2017, and now has three to four times more high-quality search results from Google, ranking on par with its competitors.

The dramatic SEO results Merck KGaA achieved came from their global communications team using Siteimprove and Adobe Experience Manager to execute on a singular SEO strategy, which allowed them to work more efficiently and collaboratively to improve content quality and optimize SEO.

“It’s really a success story. We weren’t really visible online compared to other pharmaceutical companies. Now we are.”

­- Joerg Lothal (Senior Communications and Digital Analytics Manager, Merck KGaA)