Winning Friends, Influencing People: 71% of SEOs Report More Company Buy-In

Winning Friends, Influencing People: 71% of SEOs Report More Company Buy-In

When thinking about the hierarchy of impediments that have historically hindered search visibility in the organization, Google’s continually changing algorithm would probably top the list.  But if our years of working with Enterprise SEOs at Conductor have taught us anything, it’s that the most significant challenge facing SEO professionals is the ability to get things done in the organization. Specifically, since SEO is an organization-dependent discipline, content creators, tech teams, public relations, marketing, and others must all be working together to effect real change. Put another way, people think it’s the algorithm they should be chasing when in reality it’s the organization.

7 out of 10 Search Marketers Are More Enabled in the Organization to Make Changes

In a joint study recently completed with Search Engine Watch and presented at our C3 conference, we surveyed 616 Search Engine Watch readers about the state of the SEO industry.  Our primary goal was to gauge the extent to which SEO is maturing in the organization.

Knowing how significant an impediment to improving natural search visibility organizational support has been, among other questions we asked respondents whether they were more or less enabled to make changes in the organization now compared to 12 months ago.

The data revealed that 71% of search marketers report they are ‘more enabled’ or ‘much more enabled’ to make changes or influence people to improve natural search visibility than they were 12 months ago.

Executive buy-in for SEO

But what’s the reason for this fundamental shift in the organization? Part of it has to do with the natural evolution of search as a sales and marketing channel—as search continues to evolve and knowledge of the opportunities in Search permeate throughout the organization, there is less resistance in supporting it.

Executive Knowledge, Executive Support

However, there’s another, perhaps, more important, factor at play that is gradually enabling SEOs to effect change in the organization and making headway in the search results: That change is Executive Buy-In.
Our survey data shows that 63% of respondents’ executive teams have increased their familiarity with the business of SEO and its metrics over the last 12 months.  This means that as the C-Suite becomes more aware of the opportunity in natural search, they’ve increasingly enabled SEOs to succeed by clearing a path in the organization.  This, of course, can be partially accredited to the natural evolution of SEO in the organization, but it also demonstrates the time and effort SEOs have spent in evangelizing SEO in the organization; that’s a whole lot of slide decks, bought lunches, and talking about opportunity in the SEO space.
(We’ve spoken with some SEOs at larger enterprise that spend 50% or more of their time on education and evangelism).

SEOs more enabled

Conclusion: Challenges Remain but Trends Show Increased Organizational Support for SEO

So what does it all mean?  To be sure, there remains substantial and varied challenges that organization-based SEOs face in the drive to maximize natural search visibility.  But the trends suggest SEO has been increasingly maturing in the organization and the barriers of skepticism that have historically kept SEO professionals from accomplishing their goals organizationally are gradually falling away.

To learn more, read the full study: Why 2013 Will Be the Year of the SEO.

A version of this article was featured on Search Engine Watch on October 9, 2012.

About Nathan Safran

Nathan is the Director of Research at Conductor and leads Conductor’s research and content team. Nathan is a monthly columnist at Search Engine Land and Search Engine Watch. Nathan’s research on digital marketing has been widely covered in both industry publications and mainstream media such as Techcrunch, Venture Beat and the Washington Post. Prior to joining Conductor, Nathan was an analyst at Forrester Research.

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