As a preamble, let’s define what falls within the definition of enterprise SEO.
Usually, we speak about enterprise SEO when it comes to applying the fundamental SEO best practices to large websites. Such websites contain tens of thousands (and sometimes up to millions) of pages. As a rule, they belong to big organizations — think Fortune 500 companies like Amazon, Costco and Home Depot.
On the most basic level, enterprise SEO is about an increased scale and bigger everything: more pages to work on, more resources required and bigger budgets.
Nearly half (45%) of enterprises claimed to invest $20,000 a month in SEO, according to a NorthStar Inbound report.
What's even more important, enterprise SEO is about generating buy-in throughout a large company with many departments. Large organizations, as a rule, have a complex hierarchy. Any idea needs to pass through several levels of approval until it gets organizational acceptance.
It should be mentioned that the fundamental tactics between general SEO and enterprise SEO are basically the same except there is more of a need for buy-in and then more pages to work on for one tactic. In this article, you'll find a summary of the most important issues to consider when dealing with enterprise SEO.
Successful enterprise SEO implementation needs the support of the C-suite in the first place. It also requires consolidated work of all departments involved in website management. But if people don't understand what you do and for what purpose, they won't be able to help you. Thus, building awareness is critical, and a good rule of thumb is to use several options.
One of the biggest pains for large-scale websites is having all pages indexed. Due to the number of pages, the indexation is a big task, which search engine crawlers are doing their best to fulfill. Yet, several factors may negatively affect a website’s indexation. As a result, a website could receive significantly fewer visitors than normal, which affects its profitability. This problem usually happens because of poor website structure and technical issues. To mitigate these risks, a thorough technical website audit is a must.
Technical issues inevitably occur on big-size websites. It’s difficult to control and keep every single webpage in order, especially when many departments have access to site management. The bad news is that technical issues are warning signals for crawlers, which results, among other matters, in low rankings. The most critical things to check are indexation and crawlability. Mobile-friendliness and page speed are also of vital importance.
Include regular technical website audits in the enterprise SEO strategy plan. Usually, enterprise SEO platforms are of invaluable help with this task. The majority offer website technical audit options for large websites. An in-depth website audit tool is available in WebSite Auditor, for example.
Site structure is another serious concern for an enterprise website. With so many pages and so many people having access to pages and content creation, it’s drastically important to keep a website’s structure logical and all the important pages accessible to the audience and crawlers. Complex and bewildering site structure worsens the user experience. It also prevents search engine bots from crawling websites properly.
It’s critical to ensure clear structure as well as proper internal linking. The most valuable pages should definitely have a significant amount of pages linking to them. Moreover, there also may be pages that would better be hidden from crawling and indexing at all so as not to waste crawl budget on them.
There’s a site structure Visualization Tool in WebSite Auditor that shows a website’s hierarchy in a visual model. It allows assessing the internal linking from the crawler’s point of view. This includes seeing pages' interlinking and link chains, as well as defining redirected and orphan pages (those that link to other pages but have no pages linking back to them). Moreover, it helps — with a set of built-in instruments — restructure the website to bring it in line with your SEO strategy.
Content is an innate advantage enterprise websites have over smaller sites. The size plays absolutely in favor of large-scale websites, as they usually contain loads of valuable content. Moreover, enterprise websites usually benefit from their authority. And even if they don’t aim at ranking for the keywords with the highest level of competition, they are more likely to be positioned well for such keywords.
At the same time, there are some pitfalls that come with large-scale content projects. Due to the size, every step in the optimization process is time-consuming. Then, because of the number of people having access to content production, there’s a high risk of content inconsistency and duplication. An enterprise SEO strategy should consider these risks and provide for them.
Automate. An SEO strategy is usually built around keywords a company wants to rank for. And the number of keywords may be huge when it comes to large websites. There are tools that help automate keyword research such as tools by Google and other search engines to keyword research instruments built in different enterprise SEO platforms. Platforms usually combine various keyword research methods. (RankTracker, for example, offers 23 keyword research methods.)
Analyze. You’ll need a bit of analysis done to pick the most efficient keywords to build your strategy. There’s a common practice that includes analyzing keywords' competition (low, medium, high, depending on the number of competing websites) and keyword difficulty score (the number of competitors for a given keyword combined with their strength). The analysis is necessary to assess the possibility of getting good positions for the keywords you want to target. Otherwise, there’s a risk to put a lot of effort and time into trying to rank for the wrong keywords.
Grab a low-hanging fruit. There’s a tactic that works great for enterprise-level websites. It is targeting the so-called striking distance keywords. These are keywords a website ranks for close to the first page of search results. The benefits are incontestable. A website moves to the first page faster and with less effort. This leads to better visibility and an increase in traffic. Consequently, there’s a potential lift in the number of new consumers. Here again, the scale plays in favor of enterprise websites, as the number of keywords you can get the potential growth for is really big.
Map keywords. One more thing to ensure is that your keywords are mapped to the right pages. On big websites, there are pages where the content answers different user intent questions. It’s a best practice to divide all keywords into groups with user intent in mind. This will help avoid situations when a product page appears in SERP for a pure informational query, etc. (which leads to poor user experience and lower rankings).
When it comes to optimizing and updating a big website, the general concern is about the amount of work and time needed to do it.
A strategy that drastically decreases the amount of manual work is the so-called dynamic optimization. Simply put, it’s the automation of the optimization process. You set up a standard template for the most significant parts of pages, including page titles, images, title and description meta tags, proper markups, etc. The code behind it submits a product name (color, size, availability, etc.) automatically. This principle is already built into some content management systems.
The bigger a website is, the more likely it is that you’ll have duplicate content. Though it’s not a penalty subject, duplicate content bewilders robots on what copy to consider primary and index. As a result, a different URL could rank better than your primary landing page URL. It’s critical to let robots know which content should be considered as primary and which is duplicate. You can apply the 301 redirects or the rel=canonical attribute to all the duplicate pages, mark them with noindex, nofollow tags, etc.
There also may be pages that contain very little content or the content brings no value to users. This affects the website’s quality. It’s important to get rid of thin content. There are several ways to do it. You may rework and expand in to make it more valuable. If it’s impossible, or a page is of no big value, it’s better to hide it from indexation. Usually, noindex, nofollow tags work well. You may also restrict its indexation in the robots.txt file.
New technologies seem to appear in increasing frequency. They affect how people do things, including the way they search for information and interact with it. To stay ahead of their competitors, enterprises should react to the changes and adjust their SEO strategies as soon as possible.
The appearance of voice search assistants led to the rise of voice search. Moreover, with the fast adoption of smart devices like smart speakers, this prediction looks more than accurate. Winning voice search becomes a challenge, there are no more 10 blue links. Voice assistant finds and reads the most relevant answers to users’ queries. It requires a different approach to win the voice game. Today, about 40% of voice search results come from featured snippets (according to a recent Backlinko study). And as voice search gains popularity, it’ll be wise to have a bite of this pie.
There are some factors that may increase the chances of appearing in voice search results. Page load speed, logic content structure, wrapping information in short concise paragraphs and using specially structured data markups.
The majority of the information our brain receives and processes is visual. That’s why people like images and videos so much. And search engines, Google particularly, seem to respond to the demand, increasing the number of images in web search results. Moreover, Gartner claimed augmented reality to shake up the customer experience by 2020, meaning that people will visualize products before buying.
So today, there’s a tendency to visual search, and the growing popularity of such apps as Google Lens and Pinterest Lens prove it. It’s high time to adapt. There are several basic things that help do this, including image XML sitemaps, filling in image alt tags, and using structured data.
Backlinks steadily remain one of the top-ranking factors. It helps promote a website’s valuable content, while at the same time adding to the authority of the website both in the eyes of users and search engines. Providing helpful and niche-specific content brings backlinks. But there is also a couple of practices that may work well for enterprise websites.
Influencer marketing is about structuring relations with influencers and bloggers in your niche. They are usually people with a flock of devoted subscribers who tend to give credence to what they say or write. These people are very careful about not ruining their reputation by promoting something they don’t believe in. So for big brands and corporations, influencer marketing would be in finding, outreaching, and winning influencers’ trust.
There are great services like Awario and Buzzsumo that help find influencers in specific niches.
There are lots of people out there who mention your brand name on social media without linking to it. Meanwhile, brand mentions may be a great source for link building. Usually, when reached out to with a polite request to add a link to the mention, people tend to approve.
There are plenty of social listening tools that help find such mentions and even retrieve contact information you may use to reach out.
It’s quite often that big corporations or brands unite multiple sub-brands that have their own websites. It would be quite wise to interlink those websites when it’s possible (like sharing mutual promotions or linking to related products or services).
Apart from having backlinks, this also increases user experience, as they can make use of several related options at once.
Large companies need to and can profit from SEO, just like smaller businesses do. The difference in running an enterprise SEO campaign is first and foremost about the necessity to evangelize it to people involved in the company’s website management. There is a risk of failure during an SEO campaign if it’s not totally understood, accepted, supported, and really well-planned. Before you start, you need to ensure that not only an SEO team participates in the process, but other departments have any connection to the website. When there’s SEO awareness across all company units and clear SEO guidelines that everyone follows, there’s a good chance the campaign will run smoothly, and SEO will bring the value it’s supposed to.
Aleh Barysevich is Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at companies behind SEO PowerSuite, professional software for full-cycle SEO campaigns, and Awario, a social media monitoring app. He is a seasoned SEO and social media expert and speaker at major industry conferences, including 2018's SMX London, BrightonSEO and SMX East.