SMX East Recap: Overcoming Challenges of Enterprise SEO
While we mostly focus on small business online marketing strategies, enterprise SEO is a whole different playing field that can still give great insights for how businesses of all size should be thinking and approaching their digital assets.
In this session at SMX East 2016, we had three panels share the common challenges they see amongst enterprise SEO and what success factors can be implemented to prevent or improve these.
Common Enterprise SEO Challenges
- No organizational structure – a common challenge is agreement on where SEO fits in an organization (in marketing? Business development? Outsourced? More used as consultancy function?). Many enterprise SEOs have even seen their role and seat within a company move multiple times. Without a clear seat, miscommunication and impact can suffer.
- Lack of buy-in – each speaker spoke of potential issues from C-suite or those in management who don’t understand the impact or value of SEO on a large scale. Without buy-in, you may not have your needs and resources prioritized or be kept in the loop with large strategic initiatives
- Geographically diverse teams – many enterprise-level business are based not just across the U.S., but worldwide. Not having face-to-face interaction, can cause “out of sight, out of mind” issues if the devs, content, business development, and SEO teams are all located in different places.
- Slow, moving and change resistant processes – start-ups can “move fast and break things”—the opposite of large enterprises. When new best practices roll out (think: schema implementation, AMP), it can take a long time to get any update to a site (or multiple sites) implemented.
Act Like a Startup
This concept to overcome challenges of enterprise SEO came from Simon Heseltine at Hewlett-Packard. He recommends having your business unit act like a startup, meaning fail fast and be proactive. Multiple meetings, many moving parts, and changing resistance can slow down any meaningful implementation, but even with a huge enterprise structure, treat different strategic initiatives or business unit growth as a startup itself to get what needs to be done, done.
Company-Wide Training on SEO
All panelists discussed the importance of training all members through an organization on SEO. Train Human Resources so they know what to look for in resumes (and what questions to ask to help fill your team). Train Business Development so they can help build partnerships for the company and gain links. Train the Content Team and Developers differently, so they know what they need to do in their job to mutually achieve their goals and your goals.
Scott Nickels of Hearst Autos put it that you should be an evangelist and build “acolytes” throughout the company that will speak up and move things forward for you. If you complete training and find one person (despite their role in the larger company) interested, follow up to encourage a deeper level of understanding for SEO (and another “acolyte” in your court). If you maintain a constant stream of sharing information, articles, and new practices, it (A) won’t feel like trainings and (B) when it’s time to implement it won’t be a shock or met with quite as much resistance or disinterest (for example, AMP page implementation).
Another common challenge is keyword governance – who is really in charge of determining the priority keywords and approach to getting the best rankings? While there is no one clear answer for determining who owns keywords on an enterprise-level, it’s an important discussion you need to have to set expectations and align priorities across the organization.
Blending paid and organic efforts is a way to win at keywords across the board. Have both paid and search teams go after the same keywords for maximized real estate on the SERPs (to get the most valuable leads). If you’re ranking low organically for some keywords, allocate more paid spend to capture leads while you put effort toward building authority and rankings for those keywords. It’s also important to always re-evaluate and pull reporting to think of each keyword as a level and opportunity to win.
Amber Fehrenbacher from SuretyBonds.com recommends that KPI success on an enterprise level can come from:
- Segmenting your data
- Benchmarking whenever possible
- Applying the 80/20 rule for where to spend your time
- Calculating ROI from each channel, campaign, keyword, page, and then optimizing from the most return down to snowball success
She mentions that you should also look at performance-based reports when evaluating success to have a clear answer for what’s working and where continued or pivoted investments should be.
Nickels says to always bring your data, as it’s the death of opinions. Splice your analytics and data to tell a unique story for your SEO campaign and results.
The Enterprise SEO Speakers
- Simon Heseltine, Global Head of SEO at Hewlett-Packard Enterprise
- Scott Nickels, Director of Audience & Engagement at Hearst Autos
- Amber Fehrenbacher, Chief Marketing Office at SuretyBonds.com
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About The Author: Hannah is the Organic Team Lead at Blue Corona. If she's not busy daydreaming about the training session for her team, you can find her improving client conversion rates and planning her next trip.
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