Let’s face it. CEOs care about SEO when the importance of it is obvious to them. And this might not just be about the bottom line. It can be about how their company is seen in the public eye (ie: negative Google suggest phrases). It could be about relationships with important people like journalists and PR firms.

Sometimes it just takes one compelling example to illustrate the importance of SEO. So here’s one example of how, I think, improved technical SEO could improve ALL of those things stated above for a company called Clear.

First, A Failed Attempt At Helping Clearme.com

On September 13th, 2012, Tim Ferriss tweeted this;

Cool… I had a look around the site. Being a geeky SEO, I quickly discovered a not-so-little issue and tweeted them back;

tweet to clearme from dan

Its so obvious to anyone doing any degree of on-page SEO at all that clearme.com’s homepage(s) are messed up! Right now, multiple versions of their homepage load;

  • clearme.com/index
  • clearme.com/home
  • clearme.com/index.php
  • clearme.com/default.aspx

You’ll see it in the screencast below.

As SEO’s we know they need to have one version of their homepage load, and all other versions redirect to that. But it goes deeper than that.

How do we communicate this to Tim Ferriss or to ClearMe’s founder/owner/CEO? What do they care about? My first attempt was obviously failed. Its been over 30 days and the issue is still there. (To their credit, sometimes those things take time – Drupal devs are not easy to find. Maybe they were like “who the heck is this guy trying to help with our website?!).

But what if it was MY fault they didn’t fix it? What if I didn’t make the problem compelling enough to give them a reason WHY they should fix it?

What if I didn’t explain it in a way that matters to them?

Here’s My Second Attempt At Helping Clear


Links to resources

CEOs Don’t Care About Linkjuice

One thing really stuck with me from Wil Reynolds’ talk at MozCon this year (which came off of an idea by Mike King). It was this idea of going into a marketing meeting as an SEO, and talking about “linkjuice” and “do-follows”. And then we wonder why we don’t more respect and budget as SEOs.

Obviously, I couldn’t agree more with Wil’s message, and I think although sometimes SEOs are good intentioned, its the curse of knowledge. We’re so close to that stuff, and its our language. But it’s not the CEO’s language, and its not immediately apparent to them why it’s important.

What do they care about though?

They might care about users landing on an empty homepage from the Huffington Post:

Or the wrong or unintended marketing message from an old homepage design:

Or journalists not knowing what version of the homepage to link to when they do a story. Or users being confused. Or not knowing what URL to put in their press releases. But NOT Linkjuice.

This is just a subtle shift in how we can explain things – nothing earth shattering, but perhaps so obvious it’s why we skip over it. But maybe it will inspire YOU as an SEO to communicate in a way the Marketing Exec or PR Dept. cares about.

How To Get The CEO To Care About SEO?

You can get them to care (like I have hopefully done above) but you have to first figure out what they care about. No this isn’t a riddle. And I don’t think it’s about just throwing technical stuff out the window. It’s about translating it into their language.

It would be like going to the mechanic and he’s talking about the transmission and the engine valves or whatever (can you tell I’m not a car guy) but you’re like – I just want this car to¬†drive. I don’t care about brake fluid.

You have to communicate – what the REAL problem is, that the SEO problem causes.

You’ll find that what the CEO cares about, typically might fall into a few categories;
  • Money
  • How the company looks
  • Beating their competitors
  • Getting press coverage
  • Improving their product/service
  • Customer experience
  • Company culture

In this case… Multiple/broken/duplicate homepages?

  • Confused potential customers.
  • The wrong marketing message with the wrong copy gets out there.
  • Journalists don’t know which page to link cite in the articles.
  • And it might just make the company look bad. Nobody wants to look bad.Lack of content?
Find out how to show how SEO helps THOSE things, and you’ll get more support. Don’t show up to that meeting talking about linkjuice!
I’ve got to cut it short here, lots of work to do! But I’m curious to hear your thoughts, and I plan on getting into this topic a lot more in the future.
About Dan Shure

I'm Dan (Google Plus Profile). I've been helping businesses improve their websites since 2007. Improving your bottom line is my number one goal. My obsessive nature and love for SEO as a true craft doesn't hurt either.

2 Comments

  • October 16, 2012 Reply

    Ted Ives

    Here’s a very simple subject line that I used with a fairly large e-commerce site recently that had a terrible shopping experience.

    The CEO responded immediately and got his people on it – I think any CEO that sees this subject line would want to open it:

    “A bad customer experience I just had with “

  • November 8, 2012 Reply

    Phillip

    Actually some CEO’s are less informed about search engine optimization, SEO . To some as long as the website is up and running and cash is flowing in, they tend to neglect the other essential bits of an e-world business. Now like the example of clearme , the technical team messed up because it was about completing the Job as the SEO, required. Nice work informing him.

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