What it’s like doing SEO for large enterprises
Enterprise SEO is a vague term, and it’s hard to define – what, and who, is an Enterprise SEO Company.
When you google the phrase, “Enterprise SEO,” there’s over 7 million search results that appear in Google. But, unfortunately, there still isn’t a lot of information about what it means to be an Enterprise SEO company, and why you may need an Enterprise SEO firm specifically. Typically, if you’re looking for an Enterprise SEO Agency, it’s because you believe: you have SEO needs an ordinary SEO vendor cannot handle, or perhaps you believe that only an enterprise SEO company can handle your needs.
This resource you’re about to read covers all aspects of what it means to be an Enterprise SEO vendor. We’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of hiring an enterprise SEO vendor, and why you may, or may not, need one.
Who may benefit from this resource?
If you’re looking to hire: If you’re considering hiring an enterprise SEO company, or thinking of hiring a consultant in-house, to handle your needs
Education: Enterprise SEO is a vague term, and you’re looking to understand what it means.
You’re an SEO vendor: Many SEO’s themselves don’t know the difference between Enterprise SEO vs Corporate SEO vs “Regular” SEO. Hopefully, this resource helps you understand what it means, when you’re an enterprise vendor and what that entails.
So what’s Enterprise SEO Exactly?
It’s difficult to provide one definition that encompasses everything. In our opinion, enterprise SEO is a term that should be used when you’re dealing with a website that has thousands, if not, millions of pages. The difference is like comparing CNN.com to your local city newspaper. While both may face similar problems, the scale, magnitude, and ramifications of SEO actions are on a much different scale. If you screw up SEO for CNN.com, not only will there be a loss in the millions – but because it involves millions of pages, it’ll take far longer to recover (depending on the situations). In addition, Enterprise SEO has another element: politics. Doing SEO for a company like CNN means things like public relations, company shareholders, internal politics, and egos, are a much bigger element. If you’re not used to this, or know how to handle conflicting egos and personalities, you may find yourself crashing and burning. Often, there are a large number of parties involved when considering SEO on an enterprise level. It’s not uncommon for an SEO agency to be dealing with: Director of Marketing, Marketing underlings, PR Agencies, VP of Marketing, and probably 3-5 other individuals, all at the same time. There are numerous stakeholders, and there’s a lot of politics. Everyone has to look good, and that means you CANNOT screw up. If you screw up, someone will inevitably lose their job.
Other characteristics of enterprise SEO
Lack of control: Often, you’ll find yourself unable to touch the website or control the website directly. Typically, there will be any number of vendors. One who designed it, one who developed it, one who maintains it.
Red tape: Red tape is 101 of enterprise SEO. Everything has to be approved, and anything important will take weeks, if not months, to get pushed through.
Diplomacy: If you’re not diplomatic, and can’t understand things from the point of view of others in the company whose reputation is at stake, you’ll most likely be unable to succeed in an enterprise environment. Everyone involved in the SEO campaign – is at risk of losing their job in case you screw up.
When conducting SEO on an enterprise level, you essentially become an external, internal, consultant. You are external, but have to operate very much so within the internal structure of the company.
Enterprise Search Engine Optimization Variables
The companies website will be the center of your strategy. The website will be different from anything else you’ve encountered in the past.
1. Enterprise size SEO campaigns have huge websites
Want an example of such a website? CNN.com has over 11,000,000 pages indexed by Google. Amazon has over 186,000,000 pages indexed. You make one false step, and it could impact 186,000,000 on Amazon.com.
You’re working with a strong brand typically
Typical,y when you do SEO for an enterprise, you’re working with a brand that commands respect, and authority. Typically, that means there are many benefits from an SEO point of view. Enterprises often have a large brand following, lot’s of backlinks, lot’s of content, and that means Google favors them heavily. Typically, brands and enterprises enjoy higher search engine rankings. In addition, because they have a social following – they can get backlinks a lot easier than a small business.
Enterprises are metric driven
Because of the size of enterprise websites, metrics are important. Because it’s hard to analyze each page, individually, when there’s millions of them – enterprise websites look at variables such as: monthly traffic, goals completion, conversion %, time spent on site, and other related variables. Metrics are NEVER ignored in an enterprise SEO setting, and all the various people in the company will rely on you to provide accurate information about the metrics. Everything you do, and report, has to be tied back to the metrics and the companies goals.
There are many people creating content
Creating content is one of the most important things when it comes to SEO. In an enterprise, it’s common for there to be many different players, creating content, and engaging. Most brands have a dedicated social media manager, whose responsible for creating new blog posts, content, etc. Content is the responsibility of many departments in an enterprise: it can be the PR firm, it can be technical writers, social media managers, and more. All of them are creating, influencing, content – and many will ignore you in this process. You will have to constantly engage them, in order to make sure you’re aware of what they are doing. If they do something which negatively impacts the SEO visibility of the enterprise, YOU WILL BE HELD RESPONSIBLE for not coordinating with them.
Link Building in Enterprises Is Easier
Enterprises, are often brands, which means they have inherent advantages when it comes to link building. Often, journalists, bloggers, etc, are constantly looking for new information released by the enterprise to discuss, and consequently link to. This means you can create backlinks fairly easily, by crafting good content strategies. Enterprises often have higher budgets, which allows them to create great content, and promote it on a scale you can never begin to imagine. Many smaller SEO companies often fail with Enterprise SEO clients, because they simply don’t know/understand how to spend the budget.
It’s important that all links created be white hat, and that you adopt the latest industry trends and changed.
Local SEO is Important For Brands With Hundreds of Physical Locations
If your’e an enterprise/servicing an enterprise that has tons of physical locations, then this will be important to know. If the brand has landing pages on it’s main website for each location, then that means you need to optimize each landing page separately. This means creating a Google+ page, Facebook page, and local citations for potentially hundreds of city landing pages. If you are doing Enterprise SEO with hundreds of locations, you need to have a thought out, and scalable, SEO strategy that can not only setup the SEO for all the various landing pages – but also be able to control the properties and citations long term.
Doing SEO on a Global Scale
Often, enterprises do business not just in one country. Often, they are involved in numerous countries, and continents. If you’re in charge of handling the SEO for USA, it’s likely that Canada, or Europe, has it’s own SEO company helping it. That means you need be aware of other assets and websites belonging to the brand. It’s common for brands to have websites that end up competing against other. For example, we service the BBC America, which has a shop: www.shop.bbc.com. The BBC of UK has it’s own shop: www.bbcshop.com. If you do enough searches in the USA for categories/products, you’ll eventually see the UK’s shop conflict with America’s shop and appear in Google USA.
Part of doing SEO on an enterprise level is being able to face these issues, and knowing how to resolve them. This means being able to communicate and express them, in a manner that is understandable by everyone at the company – and being able to propose a solution which resolves the issue at hand.
Capturing Brand Traffic
Enterprise websites often receive a large number of visits from branded searches/keywords. In some instances, it might make sense to focus exclusively on your own branded search terms, if there’s enough traffic. Often, many enterprise SEO companies fail to properly rank for their own “brand terms,” because they assume they’ll rank “automatically.” This is a major stumbling block, and a strategy is needed to capture this traffic, lest it go to competitors!
You Can’t Ignore Social Media
Social media is one of the most important channels you have to pay attention to. In an enterprise setting, social media is quite often the largest source of traffic a brand receives. This is a great way to create backlinks, and it’s a great way of generating revenue. When doing enterprise level SEO, you’ll be required to collaborate with other departments, promote the appropriate content, making content recommendations, and ensure that it all ties back to higher SEO metrics.
Analyzing the competition is mandatory
Doing competitor research is one of the most important elements of any SEO campaign. If you do SEO on an enterprise level, it’s extremely important you constantly evaluate your competition. Often, the company you work for will want to know what their competition is doing, as a way to make informed decisions and for validation. Typically, analysis of competition can be generalized into the following steps
Analyzing current competition: Tracking and discovering what they are doing. Understanding what actions you need to take in order to improve your SEO campaign
Discovering new players: You have to be aware of your competitors, past, present, and newcomers.
Uncovering and reverse engineering: You need to be able to replicate, reverse engineer, and evaluate their strategies and create your own based off them.
The internal politics of enterprise seo
Many elements of enterprise SEO boils down to one thing: being able to play politics. Your success as a consultant is 100% dependent on the input, and consent, of executives at the company. If an executive wants you to fail, he can block all of your initiatives and make you fail without doing anything else. If an executive at a company doesn’t believe in you, or like you, it’ll be impossible to get his support. Here’s how you can work your away around the internal politics of large enterprises, in order to get what you want.
1. Forecast and projections
The best way to compel executives to listen to you, is to provide forecasts. Executives rely on facts – because that’s what there superiors demand from them. If you can show an executive, like a Director of Marketing, what type of forecast and projection you can provide through SEO – then you’ll have less trouble getting their support and “buy in.”
The best way is to provide the enterprise with a set of keywords which will have an impact on the visibility of the enterprise. Explain why these keywords are appropriate: discuss the commercial intent of the keywords, and the overall historic traffic and forecasts for the keywords. Discuss what are the traffic estimates from the keywords, and discuss how the keywords ill impact KPI’s. The more information you give the executive and stakeholders involved in the decision making process, the easier you make their job and the more likely they are to defend you.
The better you make an executive look, the more likely he’ll support your initiatives in the future. All anyone cares about is keeping their job. Help them keep their job, so they can help you keep the client!
2. Reporting is Key
Many enterprises have a lot of departments. Data is the one thing that helps organize these departments. Metrics are what govern jobs. Each department has it’s own KPI’s and expected metrics. You have to employ a custom approach, when reporting to the head of each of these departments.
Send different reports to different people
Working as an enterprise SEO specialist, means being able to take data, and distill it depending on the person you’re talking to. The CMO or VP of Marketing will care about different metrics, than a Director of Search. If you want the “buy in,” of a CMO – discuss revenue, and metrics that impact revenue, because that’s what he will be responsible for reporting to the CEO and Board of Directors. The Director of Search will be responsible for overall SEO traffic, and growing it – so discuss things like impressions, and overall visitors, because that’s what directly impacts his job!
It’s important that you be able to understand the importance of different reports for executives in different roles. In order to succeed in an enterprise level, you have to be able to organize your data to align with what they NEED to look good. Focus on exhibiting how your efforts are helping the executive improve the KPI’s relevant and pertinent to his job. If you can do that, then you are an invaluable resource – necessary for the job security of the executive – which is key to becoming a member of his “inner circle.”
Become ROI focused exclusively
Metrics like overall visitors, are great, but they don’t keep the lights on at the office, nor do they pay for the executive’s fancy vacation. ROI is the key variable that most enterprise SEO consultants/agencies forget to consider. It’s important that you establish ways to determine the ROI of your efforts, and be able to measure it to over time. Your goal, as a top rated Enterprise SEO service provider is to not to rank the website —- it’s to bring revenue, through ranking the site. Your work will constantly be measured up against what the company is investing in the SEO strategies, and what is the ROI. If you forecast specific revenue growth from an increase in organic rankings, you have to be able to validate this forecast, or explain why it did not manifest. Often, executives will grill you about why it didn’t happen, because they need to be able to answer to their “superiors,” as to why forecasted revenue was not attained.
Pro’s and Con’s of Doing Enterprise SEO
There are many pro’s and con’s of doing enterprise level SEO work. If you know what you’re doing, enterprise SEO can be one of the most rewarding, and enjoyable things. At the end of the day, if you can demonstrate a significant increase in revenue, everything else doesn’t matter.
Pro’s of Enterprise SEO Consulting
Google loves brands: It’s not a secret, search engines love brands because they create tons of content, and are recognized by the audience. As a result, if you can help a brand, you have an inherent advantage, and step up, from others.
Resources: Brands have tons of resources, and tons of knowledge. If you face any obstacles, it’s likely they can give you the budget, or resources, to handle them.
Expertise: Talent is important when conducting enterprise SEO. Brands often have huge teams of creatives, PR specialists, marketers, and others, who can contribute or take over large components of your work, if needed.
Scalability: It’s a lot easier to show a 10% increase in traffic with an enterprise, than small brand. When a brand has 10,000,000 pages, a 10% increase can come from any one of the pages, or from any ten’s of thousands of those pages. The sheer number of pages makes it easier to create an increase in traffic, while doing very little work.
Budget: This goes without saying, brands and enterprises have larger budgets, which means more sophisticated tools, and campaigns, can be paid for.
Con’s of Enterprise SEO Consulting
Unfortunately, doing SEO for an enterprise isn’t all fun and games. There are some SERIOUS obstacles, when it comes to doing SEO for an enterprise that can seriously hinder your ability to innovate and generate traffic.
Brands are slow: Brands, and large enterprises are very slow. Often any decision has to go through many departments, and department heads.
Lot’s of rules: Brands often have to think about public opinion, and this means even though there’s a lot of things you can potentially do, you have to play by the rules and get things approved.
You can’t take risks: Every dollar an enterprise spends has to be accounted for. You need an ROI for every dollar, and you can’t take risks.
Red tape: Any initiative you take will require permission from lot’s of people. That means if you’re not diplomatic, you’ll crash and burn miserably! Any process or thing you want to do, will require tons of time, and in many cases will require substantiation – especially if it involves an extra budget. Often, every campaign or change has to be discussed and proved worthy of being implemented.
Tons of reporting: Executives will often use your reports when discussing your work with their superiors. Without proper, and digestible reports, you will be given ton’s of grief.
Not everyone is cutout for doing SEO on an enterprise scale. There are more factors, and more permutations, than doing SEO on a small, local level. If you aren’t able to produce results on smaller businesses, then you’re probably not cut out of enterprise search engine optimization campaigns.
BBC Shop – Enterprise SEO Case Study
In 2014, the BBC of America approached our founding partner, Max Soni, in order to get assistance with their website’s PPC and SEO campaign. The brand had recently switched platforms, and changed their domain name, at the same time. We were brought on board, after numerous SEO vendors failed, in order to improve the overall visibility of the shop, for dozens of different product lines, and thousands of products.
Our SEO Recommendations resolved technical issues with the new platform, aligned content creation strategies with product lines that matter, and in addition we we were able to transfer all of the SEO value from the previous domain name into the new BBC shop domain name. By focusing on on-site, and off-site, variables, our team was able to increase overall monthly SEO traffic by over 200% The exact values have been “blocked out,” but above is a Google analytics screenshot of what a successful enterprise SEO campaign should produce.
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