SEO for CEOs: 50% Of Site Traffic At Risk?

AI generated image of a laptop showing SEO growth and conversion success

If you’re a CEO/CMO reading this and you already have a strong grasp on what SEO is, or already have a dedicated SEO manager/consultant in your digital team, then this article isn’t for you. If your only experience with it is as an acronym that is occasionally thrown around, or your digital team doesn’t have a dedicated SEO-responsible person talking about its role in B2B and B2C growth, then you need to read on.

Understanding That SEO Is More Than Just an Acronym

Ask somebody in your digital marketing team and they’ll probably say S.E.O. (Search Engine Optimisation) is: “how your business gets found in search engines like Google”. Now, ask somebody on your board of directors and I guarantee at least one or two will say “I don’t know or care”.

That’s fair enough, but it’s also a massive missed opportunity. Not just for business leadership, but for digital teams too!

Non-technical CEOs and CMOs will invest in what they see working or what they know. They probably have a good understanding of most other marketing channels (like email, Social Media, ads, etc.) and how they increase visibility/revenue.

So why is SEO always the last channel to get taken seriously when it is usually responsible for 50% of most websites’ traffic?

The answer: just like electricity or water, SEO is taken for granted until it is in crisis

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The Crisis Cycle: A Common SEO Scenario

Based on 8 years of experience in E-Commerce, here’s my experience of site problem diagnosis:

  1. Orders drop off overnight
  2. Somebody realizes and hits the panic button 
  3. Analytics are investigated and site traffic has fallen off a cliff 
  4. Fire-fighting mode engaged 
  5. All other channel activities are put on the back burner until the issue is fixed and orders resume…
  6. The problem is fixed and everybody breathes a sigh of relief…
  7. SEO goes back to being ignored again.
  8. See Step 1.

The problem here is that in about 90% of these cases, the problem is SEO-related and could have been identified and solved weeks/months ago… but nobody wants to invest in SEO until it’s too late!

Case in point, I consulted with a business that lost over $86,000 within 8 days because of a very basic security flaw… It took our SEO consultant 1 hour to investigate, identify the problem, and implement the fix. Let me repeat that. 1 hour’s work could have saved $86,000 but SEO wasn’t being taken seriously by the Head of the IT & Digital department nor the E-Commerce Director, and her recommendations were frequently ignored! They paid the price. Learn from their mistake.

The Immediate Role of an SEO Professional

Usually, the first thing a business’s first SEO employee does is UNDO damage.

They don’t start with fun, growth-based activities that they enjoy.

They don’t start content marketing or exciting blog stuff.

They want to make sure they have a solid foundation for growth before accelerating.

The problem with that approach is, ultimately, it isn’t sexy – so it gets ignored.

The cornerstones of SEO are usually hidden and not immediately visible to C-Level staff, so they question the investment.

Nothing seems to happen for a while, invisible but important mistakes are prioritized, and the changes SEOs focus on don’t seem to have much immediate value.

Graphic of a hand fixing a website with a wrench

The House Analogy: Understanding SEO Foundations

But let’s put this into a different context.

Think of SEO like building a new house. As the owner, you have a clear end goal in mind and naturally want to reach it as quickly as possible.

Just as you wouldn’t want a tradesperson to start wallpapering before the walls are built and the plaster has dried, SEOs shouldn’t be expected to work on certain tasks until the foundational elements are still missing.

Asking an SEO to work on the fun and exciting parts of organic traffic without first doing the other, less visible tasks, is like asking someone to wallpaper when the roof is missing and it’s been raining for a while.

And trust me, this comparison isn’t an exaggeration. I’ve seen companies invest in blogs without having basic SEO best practices… that is not only a waste of money but it is an expensive mistake.

Adding more pages and weight to your site is going to damage your site’s performance, hurt its ranking on search engines, and create more and more problems to be fixed down the line.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The Daily Impact of SEO

So let’s take a quick step back and discuss what SEO does on a day-to-day basis:

SEO gets your brand in front of people who didn’t specifically search for it

Ads, social media, and email usually require some knowledge or prior engagement with a brand before they will generate conversions.

SEO does not.

Those platforms excel by being an easy-to-find resource for people who are already interested in your brand.

That’s great, but the phrase “preaching to the choir” springs to mind. 

SEO creates new interest. By setting up your website’s content, structure, and technical elements to make it more appealing to search engines like Google, you will start to become more visible to people who need what you sell – and now, with a good SEO strategy for B2B and B2C, you’re what they’re buying!

Pro-tip: SEO/organic traffic can be retargetted with ads meaning free leads and more conversions!

Small colorful figures that represent diverse and wide website audience

Accessibility and Legal Compliance: A Must-Have

Websites are required to follow certain standards so that everybody can access them. The Internet is for everyone.

Often, accessibility is ignored until it becomes a problem resulting in legal fines (ask Beyonce and Netflix).

If your website trades within the USA but isn’t compliant with Title 3 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and doesn’t follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) recommendations, then that could easily become a lawsuit.

This is just an example of something an experienced SEO professional would address quickly before it became a problem.

Do you want to proactively work to have an inclusive website? Or do you want a minimum $25,000 lawsuit, additional fines, and reputation damage… and then fix the problems?

Because those are your two options. There’s no third option where you bury your head in the sand and escape legal obligations. 

User Experience: The Silent Salesman

We all know that slow sites are horrible to use.

In fact, if a website takes more than 3 seconds to load,
approx. 53% of people will give up and go elsewhere.

Imagine you had a store on the high street with automatic doors.

Now, imagine if those doors took 3 seconds to fully open, 1 out of 2 people would say “
To hell with this!” and walk away.

You’d fix the doors immediately… so why treat your site differently?

Site speed and performance are key SEO metrics.

If you’re not talking about these on a regular basis, you’re losing out on approximately 50% of your customers.

So right away there are 3 things that you might not have associated with SEO.

Are you starting to see how important it is?

SEO shouldn’t be an afterthought shoehorned into your E-Commerce Manager’s job description. Knowing this gives you a massive advantage over your competitors, most of whom I guarantee are not taking SEO seriously yet either.

SEO + UX in heart written on a chalk board

Site Security: An Overlooked SEO Aspect

Another aspect of SEO that is ignored until it’s too late is site security. Here’s a small list of how SEO is not only good for growth but essential for protecting your site and your customers:

  • SSL Certificate Implementation – Look at the top of your web browser. See that little lock symbol next to the website URL? That means all the data between you and the website is encrypted. Websites without that aren’t secure. Google will tell visitors not to trust your site. That reduces organic traffic, which reduces revenue. It is very basic SEO, but you’d be surprised how often it is overlooked.

  • URL crawling – Crawling your site (i.e. checking how many of your website pages are present online) can easily identify whether or not somebody is piggybacking off your site for their own benefit. Can you 100% confidently say that that’s not happening to your site right now?

  • Plug-in/Software Updates – Regularly checking site plug-ins (and their impact on site speed) is another SEO SOP that can greatly increase site security, especially if plug-ins are being used as a back door into your site. This is particularly important for Shopify sites!

  • Website Firewalls – While not always immediately associated with SEO, the configuration and monitoring of a site’s firewall policy can occasionally intersect with SEO tasks. One of the primary reasons is the direct impact a firewall can have on-site speed—a crucial factor in search engine rankings. Beyond performance, there’s the critical aspect of security. An improperly configured firewall can leave server information exposed, making the site vulnerable to potential attacks. Such breaches not only jeopardize user data but can also harm the site’s reputation and trustworthiness in the eyes of search engines. Therefore, ensuring that server details are shielded and that the firewall is optimized is essential not just for security but also for maintaining and improving SEO performance.

Woman setting up security feature on her website account

Conclusion: The Imperative Need for SEO Expertise

Maybe you’re not convinced! Maybe you’re happy that somebody is already looking after it in addition to their other responsibilities, or that this is too technical for you and seems to be something that can continue to be ignored.

Again, I totally understand that, but it’s time for us to accept what we don’t know. There’s no shame in this being the first time SEO has been explained to you. I’ve been in E-Commerce and digital marketing for almost a decade and I’ll happily put my hands up and say that it has only become apparent to me exactly how important SEO is within the last few years!

If the analogy about the house didn’t do it for you, how about this: digital teams are like hospital staff, and the days of somebody having a simple title like “doctor” are over forever. Specialists exist for a reason. You wouldn’t want a neurosurgeon to diagnose lung problems, or a nurse to remove a brain tumor. It wouldn’t be good for the medical professional or the patient. The same is true for your digital team and the health of your website. You can shoehorn SEO into an existing team member’s responsibilities, but it’s bad for them, bad for your site, and helps nobody.

The potential savings you’re making on the monthly salary of an SEO are much, much less than the potential organic revenue you’re losing – especially if organic traffic is at least 50% of your current revenue. It might be time to accept that you need an SEO professional…

So, hopefully, by now, the question you should ask yourself isn’t “Can we afford to invest in SEO?”, it’s “Can we afford to ignore it?”.

And at this point, I hope you know the answer to that.



Adam McAreavy has been conquering the digital commerce world for the past 9+ years and he’s seen it all! He’s an expert in navigating any E-Commerce terrain.

Adam doesn’t just talk the talk – he walks the walk, having consulted for giants and built success stories across industries like home goods, fashion, baby products, and even eSports. Now, he shares his wisdom through articles that pack a punch. Need E-Commerce insights? This is your guy.

When he’s not launching B2C E-Commerce for billion-dollar enterprises and start-ups alike, you can find Adam doing DIY or swimming in Scandinavian fjords.

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