How to Convince Your Boss to Do SEO: Objection 3: "We can't afford SEO!"

This is a pretty common challenge for marketing managers. It often goes something like this: Well-meaning marketing manager pitches SEO to their boss. Boss likes the sound of it and says “find a company that will do it for us.” Marketing manager makes a few phone calls, gets a few quotes, and narrows their choices down to one or two providers. Boss looks at the quotes and blows a gasket because they think it’s too expensive. SEO is no longer an option.


Table of Contents:
How to Convince Your Boss to Do SEO


  1. Objection 1: What is SEO?
  2. Objection 2: SEO is a scam.
  3. Objection 3: We can’t afford SEO!
  4. Objection 4: It will take too long.
  5. Objection 5: SEO won’t give us the results we want.
  6. Objection 6: But we’re already ranking well.
  7. Objection 7: Why do you need help?

You know that SEO would be invaluable to your website, but your boss can’t get over the up front or ongoing cost of SEO services. How can you convince them that SEO is well worth the cost – and that it will result in better results and higher revenue for your business?

There are a few ways you can tackle this objection. Here are a few ideas.

Focus on the Potential ROI

Search engine optimization, as a marketing method, typically has a very high return on investment. Because so many of your leads or customers will start with a search engine, being present in the search results will net you far more traffic and clicks than other methods.

If your business sells directly to consumers, here’s a statistic to pass along: one study showed that 89% of consumers use search engines for their purchasing decisions. If you’re B2B, here’s a better one: 71% of enterprise purchasing decisions start with a search engine.

Also, the closer you are to the #1 spot in search, the more traffic you’re going to get:

Ranking value

So when you put this data all together, here’s what you get: a large majority of your customers are using search engines to make purchasing decisions. The closer you are to the #1 spot, the more clicks you’ll get. And with more clicks to your site, you’ll get more sales.

At this point, it may be worth doing a little math to show the exact ROI you’d get from ranking higher in search. You can find some calculations to try in the previous section. As long as your revenue is higher than the cost of an SEO plan – and it more than likely will be – you should have a convincing argument to present your boss.

SEO Doesn’t Cost as Much as You Think

In one study by HubSpot that pitted multiple marketing methods against one another, 38% of marketers said search engine optimization was “below average cost” as a lead generation method. Only 19% said the same of trade shows, which are typically seen as prime sources for new leads.

Inbound cost less

Truthfully, in the long run, it will probably cost your company more to not do SEO, because you’ll have to make up the lack of customers by relying on other (costlier) marketing methods.

Knowing what you already do about SEO’s high ROI, it’s also worth knowing this: every SEO company charges a different amount for their plans. So it’s always possible that what you were quoted by an agency is higher than you have to pay. Don’t be afraid to shop around, read reviews, and compare pricing.

SEO Costs Less Than Other Methods

Let’s look at another HubSpot study, this one on the cost of acquiring inbound and outbound leads. If you aren’t familiar with the terms, inbound marketing refers to methods in which the customers come to you – SEO included – while outbound refers to methods in which you go to, or advertise to, customers.

HubSpot found that the average cost of acquiring a new outbound lead is about $346. However, the average cost of an inbound lead is $135, or 61% less.

Inbound vs outbound

Part of this is because consumers don’t respond to outbound marketing in the same way they once did. Now that commercials and radio advertisements are regularly ignored, and your potential customers can easily get online to verify your claims or read reviews about your business, inbound marketing is going to net you more leads than outbound, and at a lower cost.

It’s always possible to make room for SEO in your budget by scaling back slightly on your existing marketing activities. If you’re currently spending $500 per month on print advertising and $500 per month on direct mail, you could easily scale them back to $250 each and invest the extra $500 in a basic SEO plan. If SEO doesn’t help, you can always scale it back up again.


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