Why CEOs with Search Backgrounds Now Run Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo

SEO CEOs - Page, Mayer, Nadella
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With the recent announcement of Satya Nadella being named the CEO of Microsoft, three of the largest tech companies in the world are now being run by people who have extensive experience in the realm of search.

First there’s Larry Page, who co-founded Google and invented the algorithm (PageRank) that serves as the foundation of its ranking system. Then there’s Marissa Mayer, who spent 13 years working for Google in various capacities before taking the reins as CEO of Yahoo. And now we have Satya Nadella, who famously turned MSN Search into what’s now known as Bing.

And really, it’s only fitting that CEOs with search engine roots are proliferating.

The Correlation Between SEOs and CEOs

As we all know, SEO has evolved quite a bit over the past few years. To be successful, now you need to be involved in all parts of the business—including working with senior management, product, technology, and marketing teams to create optimized user experiences for all devices and then driving massive amounts of relevant traffic through SEO, PPC, Social Marketing, Social Advertising, Inbound Marketing, Branding, Email, Display, and more.

To do all of this, search marketers need to be agile, analytical, and obsessed with the details, but also trusting of their team. Sound familiar? It should, because those are a few of the same traits that make a good CEO. The CEO is the ultimate “be involved in all business units,” which is why search marketers are able to transition so well into the role.

Emphasis on Analytics

Another important part of being a successful CEO is having the ability to understand and synthesize data, which is the bread and butter of any good SEO. What it comes down to is that Nadella, Page, and Mayer are all technical, results-driven people who have high-level experience with analytical decision-making, and those are invaluable characteristics for CEOs to have.

Nadella’s appointment indicates that proficiency in the field of search makes for a desirable CEO, and it will certainly be interesting to see which direction he takes Microsoft and how the big three search-lead companies will evolve moving forward.

Alex Becker is a founding partner of Highly Relevant and currently serves as the SEO Manager of an Internet Media Company called Oversee.

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