Enterprise level SEO concerns are different from those of smaller companies.
Smaller companies worry about creating enough content, building trust and earning inbound links.
Enterprise level SEO (for large companies) is more about keeping everyone involved moving in the same direction and avoiding “friendly fire” that sabotaging the overall SEO effort.
Here are some of the most common SEO issues faced by large companies.
Large websites have lots of URLs, sometimes running into the millions. Such large quantities are impossible for individuals to deal with on their own. It is utterly vital to have clear systems of managing and organizing these pages.
For small sites, using directories is optional; for larger sites, it’s a requirement. Keep directory trees elegant and simple. There is almost never a need for a directory tree to be more than four levels deep. Example:
Home > All Stores > State > City > Individual Store
Another common URL problem is having identical or nearly identical content on more than one URL. This often happens when a unique page is created for ad hoc marketing or advertising purposes, and the information gets duplicated when a similar event happens in the future.
You have 3 options:
- Recycle these URLs
- Have an archiving strategy that lets people see/use the content but blocks it from the search engines.
- Unique content every time.
Writing For People vs Search Engines
Effective communication is context-dependent. Ornate, flowery language can be beautiful, yes, but isn’t necessarily the best way of doing things.
However, you need to “sell” to everyone who creates and publishes content for the website that they are writing for the people who use search engines, not for the machines.
People have credit cards. People search for and buy stuff. Machines don’t. Depending on who is in charge of what departments and how entrenched and senior they are, this is often an uphill battle.
The debate over writing good content and good titles for search engines has been going on for years and won’t go away any time soon.
Here’s how it is – really good titles for search engines get more clicks than weaker titles. Really good content gets shared more (on social media, for example). It gets more inbound links.
Big organizations have bigger budgets, and bigger budgets allow for extensive, expensive flash or video content. However, to a search engine, that type of content is a mystery box they can’t see inside of. I have heard more than one CEO say they want something on a website to sizzle, followed up by a slick flash production. Try telling them the 10k they spent creating that was “wasted” from a search engine perspective – they would have been better off spending $100 on having a well written page created instead.
IP Delivery and Language Specific Content
If you are working on a large website, chances are good it’s a multi-national corporation. How you address giving users the content they want is a complicated issue with lots of solutions and no clear “best practice.” Some companies use one domain and use sub domains or sub folders for different languages. Others use country specific TLD’s ie .ca for Canada, .co.uk for the United Kingdom, .de for Germany and so on. Other companies try to detect what country the user is coming from and redirect/serve content based on that information. However as an English speaking American, I can say that Google redirecting me to Google.mx and serving me the Spanish version of my Google calendar was less than helpful when I was on vacation in Cancun Mexico. So think carefully about the pros and cons of each solution.
Redesigns and Redirections
Many large companies “re-invent” or rebrand themselves every so often. This usually involves a website redesign. If a website was designed properly with CSS (see CSS Zen Garden as an example of a properly designed CSS website), the redesign is a non issue.
But that’s the best case scenario. The real world is usually a lot messier. A redesign can have a huge impact on SEO, rankings, and traffic if improperly handled.
Websites are often completely re-structured during such redesigns. The higher the percentage of URLs that move/change, the worse this is from an SEO perspective. In the real world, a redesign and restructure/redirection make sense. From an SEO perspective, it’s like living on the coast and learning a category 5 hurricane will make landfall in your backyard.
It’s a huge problem and if you don’t prepare for it, you could see your traffic plummet for weeks or months.
If possible, break the project into two phases and address the redesign and restructure separately. Learn how to do 301 redirects, check to make sure that they are working, and try not to change too much at one time if at all possible.
Enterprise level SEO is about management. It’s about learning how to communicate and manage expectations of what search engines are looking for, understanding those limitations, and playing to them.
It’s also about getting as many people (especially “C” level executives) to understand that they can’t resolve these issues by simply throwing money at them. It requires thoughtful, purposeful action.