Managing Enterprise SEO — You’re Probably Doing it Wrong

by | May 3, 2017

Man­ag­ing an enter­prise SEO oper­a­tion is no sim­ple task. There are typ­i­cal­ly mul­ti­ple stake­hold­ers with com­pet­ing inter­ests, teams func­tion­ing in silos and lim­it­ed resources. Nav­i­gat­ing through these obsta­cles to find a path to suc­cess requires a lot of per­sis­tence, cre­ativ­i­ty and the pow­er of data. This post will help you approach an enter­prise SEO oper­a­tion the right way, includ­ing SEO busi­ness plan­ning, proac­tiv­i­ty and site mon­i­tor­ing, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and edu­ca­tion and data visu­al­iza­tion. 

Include SEO in Enterprise Strategy Planning

Most orga­ni­za­tions devel­op their busi­ness strate­gies around how to keep their brand per­form­ing, not nec­es­sar­i­ly how to make it search-friend­ly. Stake­hold­ers are most like­ly to make deci­sions on ini­tia­tives that can pro­found­ly impact SEO, but they rarely con­sid­er the myr­i­ad of vari­ables that influ­ence search vis­i­bil­i­ty.

Ask­ing SEO-relat­ed ques­tions is often the only way to paint a com­plete pic­ture of all the mov­ing parts of an enter­prise orga­ni­za­tion, espe­cial­ly in the begin­ning of a relationship/engagement. For exam­ple, SEO is not top of mind when the UX per­son decides that Angu­lar JS is going to deliv­er the best user expe­ri­ence, con­sid­er­ing client-side Angu­lar can result in pages not being indexed by Google. 

If SEO ques­tions aren’t asked dur­ing the busi­ness plan­ning process, you might not be able to influ­ence deci­sions until it’s too late. Here are some exam­ple ques­tions you can bring to the plan­ning table to avoid headaches down the road:

  • How will this fea­ture be imple­ment­ed?
  • What frame­work will be used?
  • Where will this arti­cle live on the site?
  • Will you be using client-side or serv­er-side Javascript?
  • Are you plan­ning to change host­ing envi­ron­ments?
  • What is on the IT and Prod­uct roadmaps?  
  • Do you make any unsched­uled, “hot” code releas­es?  
  • What are the top PR and Social ini­tia­tives for this quar­ter?  
  • Are you plan­ning to release any new prod­ucts this year?  
  • Do you plan on mak­ing any acqui­si­tions or sell­ing off any busi­ness units in the near future?  

You get the idea.  

Be Proactive and Monitor Your Site

If you made it this far, you prob­a­bly agree that SEO is not usu­al­ly the first con­sid­er­a­tion when new prod­ucts launch, designs are updat­ed or fun­da­men­tal web­site avail­abil­i­ty is being con­sid­ered. But that doesn’t mean SEOs get a pass when things fail; proac­tiv­i­ty and pre­ven­tion are key.

Con­sid­er this true sto­ry. One day back in 2007, an in-house SEO went on vaca­tion. Twelve hours lat­er, he receives a phone call explain­ing that the site had been “delet­ed from Google”. “Delet­ed from Google”? Yes. A devel­op­er acci­den­tal­ly pub­lished a robots.txt file that had a sim­ple “/” in the wrong place, and the site was delet­ed from Google. It took 6 months to recov­er that traf­fic.  Need­less to say, that was not a fun vaca­tion.

Delet­ed canon­i­cal tags, altered title tags and removed cross-links can all be dis­rup­tive to an enter­prise SEO pro­gram if they are not dis­cov­ered and han­dled right away. If you wait on Google Search Con­sole to alert you, it’s prob­a­bly too late.

It takes months or even years to devel­op a strong SEO pro­gram, but it can unrav­el quick­ly under the right con­di­tions. Don’t let that progress get rolled back with a bad code release.  Test, test and test some more. Devel­op check­lists, crawl your site reg­u­lar­ly and uti­lize tools like Robot­to to mon­i­tor robots.txt changes. Be proac­tive and mea­sure, mon­i­tor and pro­tect your site vis­i­bil­i­ty.  

Constantly Communicate and Educate

In enter­prise orga­ni­za­tions, Mar­ket­ing, IT and Cre­ative can be locat­ed in dif­fer­ent build­ings, states or even dif­fer­ent coun­tries. You may not ever get to speak to the UX team, so influ­ence has to be indi­rect.

Cre­at­ing POVs, dis­sem­i­nat­ing best prac­tices and pack­ag­ing digestible pieces of con­tent that can be shared with­in an orga­ni­za­tion helps answer ques­tions before they are asked. When an arti­cle gets pub­lished about SEO in a major news­pa­per, be proac­tive and social­ize it. You’ll influ­ence impor­tant stake­hold­ers in the process, too.

Some­times larg­er orga­ni­za­tions know one sin­gle data point about SEO, such as how much rev­enue can be attrib­uted to organ­ic search. Com­mu­ni­cat­ing impor­tant con­cepts like Google’s mobile-first index, the neces­si­ty of mov­ing to HTTPS or the impor­tance of site speed can help put these ini­tia­tives on the roadmap before Google rolls out a major algo­rithm update.

Use Data to Influence Stakeholders

Data is your friend. It’s not good enough to expect an orga­ni­za­tion to invest in an ini­tia­tive because it’s “good for SEO”. When work­ing with­in an enter­prise orga­ni­za­tion, there are a myr­i­ad of com­pet­ing inter­ests that want to use lim­it­ed IT resources and bud­gets, so you need to prove the val­ue of SEO with num­bers.

Whether an ini­tia­tive is designed to avert a dis­as­ter or grow traf­fic, use data to make your case.  What will the impact of the effort be? How much traf­fic is at stake? How have com­peti­tors gained from sim­i­lar efforts? How much rev­enue could be gained (or lost)? There is a big dif­fer­ence between, “Do this because it’s good for SEO” and “Do this because it can increase rev­enue by 25%.”

There are no guar­an­tees with SEO, but a data-backed pre­dic­tion can go a long way to gain­ing influ­ence and deliv­er­ing results. Imple­ment­ing advanced enter­prise SEO is a sig­nif­i­cant invest­ment in most cas­es, and any good busi­ness mind will want to know if “the juice is worth the squeeze”. With the right data pre­sent­ed in the right way, that answer will be evi­dent.

It’s been said that enter­prise SEO is a lot “like nudg­ing an ice­berg”. Things move slow­ly, but the impact of a tar­get­ed pro­gram can be tremen­dous. With ear­ly plan­ning, proac­tiv­i­ty, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and the pow­er of data, enter­prise SEO can deliv­er con­sis­tent, sus­tain­able growth in organ­ic traf­fic.

If you’re look­ing for a part­ner to help turn your enter­prise SEO pro­gram into a well-oiled machine, con­tact us. Our team of SEO experts will help you get there.