The dynamic pace of changes and developments within digital marketing can lead to a lot of noise. Every year, people swarm marketing blogs and advertising expertise sites to declare what is out and in, what’s trendy and what’s old news. And in the midst of all that, you have search engine optimization (SEO), which has been kicking around as a key element of digital marketing since 1991.

But the Internet is quite a bit different since the 90s — you’re probably not still hosting your website on Geocities, after all. Is SEO still relevant and worth investing time and resources into?

Key Takeaways From the 2023 Gartner CMO Survey

Last month, research and advisory firm Gartner released their annual CMO Spend and Strategy Survey, which gathers responses from chief marketing officers and leaders across North America and Northern and Western Europe. They ask them about their budgets, where they’re spending their money, and how current marketing trends are affecting them. Here are a few highlights:

  • 46% of those surveyed plan to increase their SEO budgets in the coming year, while 34% will maintain their current budgets
  • 75% of CMOs say they are being pressured to “do more with less,” and as a result, 86% said they plan to make significant changes to how the marketing function works, going beyond helming a brand and instead investing for profitability versus growth
  • Over 70% of CMOs say they lack the budget to fully execute their strategies and goals this year, which means they’ll have to be even more aware of their spending priorities

What do we feel like this means for SEO?

The fact that so many CMOs are maintaining or growing their budgets for search engine optimization practices is overall a big win in our books. It’s so tempting to try to chase down the latest tech craze or social platform and throw money at it, hoping for a big, viral moment. But SEO is a workhorse element to your strategy. It might not be as flashy, but it does a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to brand-building, visibility, and driving revenue. Overlooking it in favor of the hottest trends could mean flushing marketing dollars down the proverbial toilet.

5 Ways to Get SEO Buy-in From Leadership

A lot of times, the trouble for marketers isn’t convincing themselves that SEO is worth the investment; it’s convincing the higher-ups, the decision makers within your company. There are a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions about just what SEO can do to drive profits, and your best bet is to tackle them head-on.

1. Search engines are still the hubs of the Internet.

Love it or hate it, the truth is that search engines are still the starting point for the majority of Internet users. Google alone processes around 3.5 billion searches per day — that’s 40,000 every second. And in a survey of almost 1,000 U.S. consumers, the research firm Forrester found that 71% of respondents used search engines to discover new products, brands, or services, and 74% use search engines for consideration and purchase.

And if the users are on search engines, then so is your competition. If you’re not jumping in and optimizing your organic search presence, then you’re missing out on traffic that those competitors are benefiting from.

2. The algorithm is not the enemy.

The story is all-too-familiar: you’re gaining traffic, you’re on an upward swing, and then the big, bad algorithm updates and you lose all your momentum. Stories like this can make a lot of decision makers nervous to invest too much in the organic search landscape. But SEO is not about battling the algorithm like it’s a dragon. That’s a lose-lose situation. Instead, it’s about building good, long-term best practices that put your best foot forward with your online presence and then keeping a steady head through any ups and downs. Play the long game, stay the course, and you can make SEO work for you.

3. SEO is not a one-and-done strategy.

If you’ve invested in SEO in the past, you may get pushback from leadership like, “I thought we already did that. Why do we need to put more money in there?” But because the digital marketing landscape is so dynamic, you can’t just set it and forget it. The economy shifts or user trends change or a new competitor arrives on the scene, and you need to be able to respond. Long-term investment in SEO means both establishing a base foundation and adjusting as the environment demands.

4. You can track the results of SEO better than people think.

Let’s just be honest right upfront: tracking the ROI of SEO is not a straight-forward 1:1 ratio like it might be with digital ads or other elements of a campaign. Organic search drives traffic, and then you need that traffic to convert. But — spoiler alert — optimizing your website to make it easy and hassle-free for visitors to become leads is also part of search engine optimization. All of those facets work together, and when you invest in both ranking on search results and improving user experience and conversions, that’s when you’re going to see real, trackable results.

5. It’s about creating long-term, long-tail results.

Paid digital ads get turned off sometimes. Social media platforms collapse in popularity. If marketing elements like this disappear from your toolkit and you’ve dumped all your budget and time into those buckets, what will you be left with? Will you still have visibility and discoverability online? Will you have a foundation to fall back on? Investing in SEO now isn’t just about today’s results or even tomorrow’s; it’s about growing your presence and traffic online for years into the future.

Get More From Your Marketing With EdwardsSchoen

If you’re ready to connect with a digital higher education marketing agency with proven experience in making the most of your SEO and paid search budget, then now is the perfect time to start a conversation EdwardsSchoen. We combine large agency experience with the nimbleness and accountability of a boutique firm, resulting in a proven track record of results. Learn more about how we help our clients with SEO services by contacting us.

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About the Author EdwardsSchoen

Situated in the heart of Kansas City - the land of barbecue, jazz, and Chiefs football - EdwardsSchoen works with clients across the U.S. on everything from marketing planning and execution to training and performance, consulting to research opportunities. Our focus is on aligning your goals and strategies to a dynamic, ever-changing marketplace. We work hard, adapt quickly, and make it a point of pride to deliver tangible results.

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