Unlocking Business Value: Translating SEO Efforts into Executives’ Language


Welcome to this episode of Whiteboard Friday, where we delve into the realm of SEO and explore how to effectively communicate the value it brings to businesses. Today, we are privileged to have Larry Waddell, an esteemed expert from Seer Interactive, sharing valuable insights on translating SEO efforts into a language that resonates with executives, namely business value.

Larry Waddell, EVP of Business Strategy for Seer Interactive, starts the discussion by emphasizing the importance of translating the great work done for clients into how they perceive value, specifically business value. He introduces two frameworks that help bridge the gap between technical SEO work and the strategic mindset of business leaders: the value pyramid and the four forms of business value.

The value pyramid is a simple construct with four layers that helps teams understand the work they do and what clients expect. At the bottom of the pyramid lies tasks like link building, crucial but considered foundational. Moving up, the focus shifts to traffic, engagement, conversions, and eventually revenue. Larry emphasizes that executives at the “big kids table” care more about strategic conversations related to business problems rather than the tactical aspects.

To gain a seat at this table and move up the value pyramid, Larry suggests understanding how SEO work translates to the business problems that executives care about. He also highlights the importance of asking better questions in client meetings to signal a deeper understanding of their business.

Larry introduces the four types of business value: increasing revenue, reducing cost, cost avoidance, and insurance value. While revenue is important, he explains that focusing solely on revenue might overlook critical factors like gross profit, which covers other expenses. By asking questions about profitability and understanding the client’s unit economics, SEO professionals can provide more holistic value.

Reducing cost and cost avoidance are two additional ways to increase business value. By helping clients save money or avoid unnecessary expenses, SEO professionals create tangible value that contributes to the client’s bottom line. Larry emphasizes the concept of loss aversion, where saving money often has a more significant impact than generating additional revenue.

Lastly, Larry introduces the concept of insurance value, where SEO projects or technical support act as insurance against potential losses. This can be relevant during activities like site relaunches, where SEO experts provide short-term support to avoid significant disruptions or revenue loss. By framing their services as insurance, SEO professionals can justify the additional expense to clients.

Larry encourages SEO professionals to understand the business challenges their clients face and translate their work into the language of business value. By considering the value pyramid and the four forms of business value, SEO professionals can better communicate the impact of their work and gain a seat at the strategic table. Understanding the client’s unit economics, asking better questions, and presenting SEO services as a means to increase revenue, reduce costs, avoid expenses, or provide insurance value can help SEO professionals contribute to the overall success and growth of the organizations they serve.

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