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.