Enterprise SEO is more expensive and requires more stakeholders relative to SEO on a smaller scale. As such, you’re looking at either enormous ROI potential or huge amounts of wasted money depending on how you run your campaigns.
But success can be defined any way you want, so it’s not an entirely conclusive metric. That’s why we’ve put together this 2019 SEO guide, so enterprise firms can define their own success, ensure they reach those goals and arm themselves with all the tactics for doing so.
SEO has never been more interesting. We’re serious.
Coming to terms with SEO: An explainer
An enterprise is any company that employs more than 250 employees. These entities are often national or global businesses and may be privately held or publicly traded.
Enterprise SEO services aren’t incredibly different from those geared toward small or medium-sized companies, but they tend to be more highly scrutinized and complex. In total, enterprise marketing is the multichannel method for growing and retaining business.
So this is the scope and scale of what’s on the table. Additional SEO terms to clarify are:
The manipulation of any copy or data that exists on a web page. Factors include title tags, metadata, keywords, URL strings, HTML tags, images, alt text, links and content.
Marketing activities that don’t directly occur on a website but that still impact SEO at large. Factors include influencer marketing, link building, brand mentions and social media engagement.
Actions taken by webmasters and site operators on the backend that affect frontend user experience, indexability and crawlability, all integral components to SEO. Factors include schema, rich data markup, URL structures, HTTPs, XML sitemaps, redirects and mobile-responsiveness.
Not to be forgotten, there’s also another specialty, Local SEO, which has become more prominent in the past five years. This can be defined as any optimization that’s geared toward location-based searches and geo-specific audiences, such as updating Google My Business and other online directories, creating targeted content around local events and services and answering queries with local intent.
Organizations of all sizes encounter the aforementioned SEO elements. But, as we’ll see, large enterprises have several distinct issues to keep in mind.
Enterprise scaling: A hurdle like no other
Enterprise content marketers face a number of large issues when attempting to get their SEO campaigns off the ground – and then maintain and improve them over time. Enterprise marketers cite the following challenges in 2019:
This data makes complete sense. Poor coordination (issue No. 1), siloed departments (issue No. 2) and inconsistent tech integration (issue No. 3) can bring any marketing campaign to its knees. Communication shuts down, metrics aren’t shared and ROI seems nonexistent.
Even though SEO is mostly a science – their guidelines and principles are well-known and documented – various stakeholders from other departments will still want input on any deliverables that go out the door.
How would your brand marketing team feel when they’re told you’re moving budget away from branded paid ads and toward organic, inbound marketing? How will your sales team feel when they’re department requires fewer staff members because they no longer need to work the phones and cold-call outbound leads all day?
In both cases, not great.
To run an enterprise SEO program is to ruffle more feathers relative to organizations of a smaller size. But that shouldn’t deter bold decision-making. If anything, you should be constantly validating your investments, compiling and reporting on performance data and seeking buy-in from executives – in other words, you should always be playing offense.
We say that because the numbers are on your side. Inbound marketing – SEO – is 62 percent cheaper than outbound marketing and produces six times as many conversions.
9 no-fail strategies to make every marketing decision a win-win
Search engine results pages are a minefield. At any moment, your coveted position one ranking can be usurped by a competitor. It could be pushed down the page by several paid ads. It could be downranked by a new Google algorithm. It could provide diminishing returns because a Featured Snippet served all relevant user information.
To accomplish your SEO goals, below are eight proven methods for SERP dominance:
1. Reoptimize copy for enhanced keyword targeting
On-page optimization for high-value, high-intent keywords is a no-brainer. In fact, it’s practically mandatory in 2019.
By re-optimizing your existing pages for the most recent search landscape, you keep your work updated, actionable and useful to searchers. You also guard against competitors leapfrogging you in SERPs.
By identifying keyword targets we wanted to rank for, and then updating page copy around those individual search terms, our domain witnessed:
- 84 percent increase in total number of keyword rankings.
- 46 percent increase in site traffic.
- 70 percent of product landing pages ranking on Page 1 of Google.
If your enterprise is already on the cusp of Page 1, a little boost via enhanced copy can reap mega rewards, because 90 percent of all clicks occur on Page 1. Even better, 60 percent of all clicks go to positions 1-3 – that’s where you need to be.
2. Target Featured Snippets to capitalize on clickless SERPs
Upping your SERP game should include more than just ranking first.
In reality, you should be aiming to rank in position zero, meaning you’ve snagged the Featured Snippet spot, whichever format that may take (list, table, local pack, etc.). You can read more about every type of Google SERP feature you can target, but the main takeaway here is that SERPs are trending toward a no-click experience.
What we mean by this is that a searcher inputs a query, and they get all the info they need straight from the Featured Snippet – there’s no further need for them to click on an actual result at all. So if there are no clicks, you receive no credit at all. Unless you own that Featured Snippet. As Rand Fishkin notes, more than 60 percent of all mobile searches are no-clicks.
Featured Snippets are also key because voice assistants like Google Home and Amazon Echo pull their responses from Google, predominantly Featured Snippets. So as voice search queries rise – 50 percent of all searches will be voice activated by 2020 – Featured Snippets will only grow in importance, and every other listing in SERPs will be drowned out.
Optimize for Featured Snippets to doubly benefit from voice search and no-click SERPs.
3. Focus on goals other than micro conversions
By this we mean look beyond superficial vanity metrics when benchmarking your SEO campaign against previous efforts and competitors.
Track traditional metrics like organic traffic, pageviews, time on page, bounce rates, etc., but don’t hang your hat on them. Focus more on engagement signals that represent more meaningful and actionable user intent.
For instance, micro conversions may be gated content downloads or product video views. But a macro conversion is more closely tied to ROI. And if the ultimate goal of SEO is to make you more money, then macro is where your money is.
Macro goals are where your money is.
Think demo requests, on-site purchases and meeting with a sales rep. These actions directly lead, or may soon lead, to revenue, and your SEO campaign should help facilitate these actions. Embed custom calls-to-action in your content to allow users to take these steps. Create content for each part of the funnel so that you’re serving the needs of various user intentions.
Just because a page receives only 10 visitors per month (terrible by conventional SEO thought), if one of those users converts into a paying customer, you’d be more than happy to sacrifice additional traffic for the sake of a single high-intent visitor. It’s all about contextualizing your actual SEO objectives, which is money. Always money.
4. Run recurring site health checks and make technical updates
There are always under-the-radar SEO tactics that marketers never place enough faith in. Site health is immeasurably important to keeping your SEO functioning. After all, why create content to live on a page that can’t be indexed?
For two enterprise organizations with similar Domain Authority scores and marketing resources, ensuring a site is crawlable and indexable can make a difference. The same goes for small but impactful errors like 404s, low-quality links and slow page speed.
Use a tool like SEMrush to provide an ongoing site audit with recommendations for how to remedy any issues.
5. Proprietary research and visuals
Releasing content into the wild that is wholly unique to your brand yet totally relevant to searchers is key. It’s not necessarily easy, but it’s a worthwhile investment.
Send short surveys to social media followers or email subscribers. Aggregate those findings. Tease out themes and throughlines. Then publish the results in a formatted, easy-to-consume medium. You can likewise compile a ton of industry statistics or expert opinions from around the web, repackage these thoughts and publish as long-form content.
In-depth data is always in high demand, and many companies don’t want to invest the time to pursue it or create it themselves. That’s where proprietary research can help distinguish your SEO efforts from those of competitors.
The best part is that comprehensive content that’s ungated is incredibly linkable, and because it’s the sole source of the information contained within, it’s the only link option for those searching it. SEMrush found that creating cornerstone assets centered on data is the No. 1 most efficient link building technique.
Include custom illustrations, infographics and short videos in your long-form content to add more dynamism to your data and to provide readers with several methods for digesting your findings.
6. Prune no-value pages
Enterprise brands often have much more complicated sitemaps, and may have multiple domains. While expansive in their reach, these sites likely are littered with dozens of pages that are outdated, are no longer relevant to your services or are too closely related to similar pages. In other words, they are either redundant or unnecessary, meaning they add no value to your domain.
Pruning – getting rid of – these valueless pages keeps your total domain in better condition, ensures you’re internally linking to high-value pages and removes dead weight, aka zombie pages. Search Engine Journal recently underwent this experiment and more than doubled their total sitewide pageviews because of it.
These pages may feature products you no longer sell or are too deep into linking structures that users never actually reach them. Remove them today to sharpen your online presence and present to search crawlers the cleanest, most indexable version of your enterprise website.
Your content creation should be completed within the mindset of mobile usability.
7. Prioritize mobile-first indexing
It’s officially a mobile-first world in the eyes of search engines. So any SEO strategy needs mobile-first indexing at the forefront.
For large websites with sprawling digital presences, migrating all pages over to responsive design will require a level of technical assistance and quality assurance.
Google will rank the mobile version of your site first, so all of your content creation should be completed within the mindset of mobile usability. This should mean more visuals, shorter blocks of text, helpful header tags, minimal interstitials and user-friendly buttons or links that can be easily clicked without needing to zoom in.
8. Embrace positive brand mentions as unlinked ranking signals
While we’re all well-aware that quality backlinks are a top three Google ranking factor, general brand mentions online are being given more weight in ranking algorithms.
Whenever someone posts anything about your brand, it provides context about how users view and engage with your company. A lot of negative press means your company could be terrible at solving customer complaints, known for shady advertising or simply not an authority at all in its industry. These signals matter to Google because it wants to rank the most reputable and valuable companies first in search.
Use Google Alerts or Awario to be notified whenever your brand is mentioned online and then decide how you want to take action to address any negative comments.
Additionally, it’s much easier to accrue a ton of positive brand mentions than it is to accrue a ton of high-quality links. Focus on EAT (expertise, authority, trust) in your marketing – Google notices and Google rewards.
Focus on EAT (expertise, authority, trust) in your marketing – Google notices and Google rewards.
9. Conduct an internal linking audit
Internal linking is an oft-overlooked component of SEO work. But when you consider the sheer volume of pages on a large enterprise’s domain(s), it’s evident that any successful SEO strategy is incomplete without a thorough review of internal linking.
Virtually any enterprise-scale digital marketing and SEO tool can crawl a domain in a matter of minutes (complex sitemaps can sometimes take hours), so a link audit can be run while you’re completing other SEO tasks. Once you receive results, you’ll discover, among other things, duplicate content, broken backlinks and, of course, internal link opportunities depending on your site’s nav structure.
Beyond core navigation and landing page cross-linking, your blog page is another arena for link optimization. Ensure that every article you publish on your blog has one or two internal links to contextually relevant assets or pages deeper in your sitemap. These link flows pass link equity between them, so web crawlers can more easily access all of your content and you can direct web traffic to additional pages of your site.
As an SEO tactic, internal linking is a rising tide that lifts all boats.
In-house vs. outsource?
While content marketing is cheaper than other forms of marketing, there are, of course, costs that not every organization wants to incur. And there are also certain SEO tactics that aren’t capable of being done with existing talent on staff.
So, you can keep some tasks in house and outsource the rest to an agency or two.
What can you do in house?
First, centralize your creative resources. If you can put together a team comprising a copywriter, graphic designer, marketing manager and SEO specialist, that could be enough to get started. While only 26 percent of enterprises have centralized marketing teams, CMI found, the benefit is that you can have a stronger QA process and fewer debriefs for external stakeholders who don’t know your brand as well.
Another thing that can be done in house is tech integration. While you’ll need tech support from respective vendors, you should at least automate and integrate your tech stack as much as possible. This saves time, reduces overhead and simplifies so many marketing tasks like analytics, distribution, relationship management and publishing.
Brainstorming, planning and calendaring can also be done in house, among other things, but this should be a promising baseline.
When and what to outsource to a vendor
Highly specialized ancillary services that are temporary, such as influencer outreach, paid search, interactive content development and predictive technology may not be great fits for an in-house team. Having knowledgeable experts trained in these SEO activities is unlikely, so an agency can seamlessly help on this front.
Additionally, work that needs to be completed in bulk and on strict timelines can be offloaded to an SEO company, whether that’s a full-service content marketing agency or a niche enterprise SEO expert with connections to networks of creatives.
Lastly, although video makes up 80 percent of all web traffic and is clearly the way of the future, too many organizations still flounder with their video marketing. They don’t know how to measure quality or how to deploy video assets for max appeal. Having a video team that can travel on-location as well as produce content in a studio is key. Video can be expensive, and you may not be able to pay for equipment, labor and travel with each yearly budget, so outsourcing makes sense.
Top enterprise tools for digital marketers and SEO pros
Enterprise SEO software isn’t one platform; it’s an entire supply chain of agile tools working together in symbiosis. Below are some of our favorites, and they cover every facet of SEO you can imagine. While most require a paid subscription, you can usually find free (but limited) alternatives for a short period of time. For the duration of a multiquarter, multichannel SEO campaign, however, you’ll want the consistency and credibility of tools you can quickly learn and become comfortable with, and that will incur costs.
- SEMrush: Keyword research, search intent, on-site optimization, site audit, link building.
- Market Muse: Content gap analysis, content creation, re-optimization.
- BuzzSumo: Social media analytics, influencer marketing, link building, trending topics research.
- Google Analytics: Web analytics, performance metrics, visitor behavior, measurement, reporting.
- Pardot: Newsletter marketing, email marketing analytics, automation, lead generation, lead nurturing.
- Salesforce: Customer retention, client relationship management, automation, sales performance metrics, analytics.
- Hootsuite: Social media automation, analytics, planning, platform monitoring, curation.
- Searchmetrics: Organic and paid search analytics, optimization, keyword research, site audit.
- Ahrefs: Link building, keyword research, rank tracking, SERP checker, site audit.
- Google My Business: Local SEO, Google Maps integration, appointment booking, on-SERP posts.
For even more SEO marketing tools you should add to your arsenal, check out our full post here.
Enterprise SEO is as difficult or as easy as you make it. Let us know how your company is faring so far this year.
Editor’s note: Updated October 2020.