Managing Enterprise SEO — You’re Probably Doing it Wrong
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?
- 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.