- SEO Mitigation - error management and/or technical SEO
- SEO Analysis/Reporting - calculating assumptions and reporting on successes
- SEO Project Management - determining growth and managing projects for SEO
- Relationship Building for SEO - Championing SEO to stakeholders and other teams
Some larger enterprise organizations will have robust teams that support the big four, with addition of SEOs that have expertise in various fields (for example an SEO that is focused on local in the U.S. or perhaps outside the U.S. for a specific country, LATAM, EMEA, etc). Some medium sized corporations or startups will often just have one SEO Manager that acts as an individual contributor that will cover all four of the key aspects on their own until the organization supports bringing on more people to take on one or a few parts (that was me in my early years). Whatever the structure for the SEO or the SEO Team in a startup, medium sized company or enterprise organization the success of SEO within that company relies on managing all four aspects successfully.
I'll dive into each one a bit more to help explain how each plays a role in making an enterprise SEO successful.
SEO Mitigation - error management and/or technical SEO
|Engineers will overlook what's best for SEO. |
It's up to the SEO to mitigate any issues that might arise.
In my experience, Since SEO equals revenue for the business, I have found it best, in an enterprise situation, to get the teams responsible for key components of the website that effect SEO to become the bestest of friends to the SEO involved. In most cases the individuals responsible for these parts of the site value SEO and understand that if they play by the rules set by Google that they will be successful in their roles. The struggle they face, though, is that they just don't know what all of the rules are; and they shouldn't be expected to. While an SEO might not know what color a button should be and where in order to drive conversions; or what merchandise should appear on what pages linked to from top navigation that an expert hired does, those experts shouldn't be expected to understand SEO at the level that a highly technical SEO does. Therefore, those teams may have a difficult time understanding the impact some of their decisions can make both negatively and positively for SEO, and look to the SEO to help them understand.
The SEO tasked with technical SEO should insert themselves into meetings, gaining trust, and being viewed as an authority in SEO to help mitigate any potential issues within the enterprise SEO landscape. In addition, staying on top of the landscape of the site and how it pertains to SEO is key. Tools like Moz (for medium sized companies), Botify, Deepcrawl, Conductor and Brightedge allows the SEO to really dig into the site to identify any issues. For smaller sites that don't have the large budgets for enterprise SEO simply using Google's Search Console is a great way to see into how Google is viewing the site. SEOs can manage parameters, identify server code errors (,404, soft 404, and 500), understand page indexing, incoming and internal links, schema markup and many important factors that Google takes into consideration.
Let's say an SEO identified a set of pages that are extremely valuable to the business in which they generate traffic from SEO but the average position is low as a result of issues with duplicate or very similar content, and even thin content (falling under Google's Penguin updates). Ecommerce websites are the biggest culprit of developing hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of URLs that are all similar to one another. Because of the way users browse of search for products in different ways, most product teams want to develop multiple touch points in which the user can access products. Let's use a simple heel shoe for example. A user that is searching for a specific shoe like a dress shoe with a thick block heel might search "block heel pumps" but they also might search "chunky heel pumps" or "block platform heels". Unfortunately you end up with search results that look like this:
Most enterprise companies will have a dedicated SEO focusing on the technical side of the SEO, but smaller companies that don't have the budget for large teams will most often hire just one SEO in which that person should be spending a good amount of time monitoring and mitigating any issues that might come up.
SEO Analysis/Reporting - calculating assumptions and reporting on successes
|Identifying growth for SEO and reporting on successes|
are key to gaining buy in from stakeholders.
Keyword analysis plays a major role in identifying opportunity for SEO. Using a tool like Conductor or Brightedge allows you to plug in a few terms that are driving traffic to the site and suggest additional terms that the site may not show up for that are similar. By bucketing those terms you can develop a strategy around a set of high volume and additional long tail terms with a strong user intent to purchase that will grab searches you might not necessarily show up for. With these reports come average search volume that will give you an estimated number of how many times those terms are used in a search. By using these numbers, an SEO can calculate an estimated percentage of ranking that they believe the site could obtain the first month (and subsequent months as Google indexes and places the pages of site for these terms). This number with a break down from an estimated click through rate and conversion rate with average purchase number will allow the SEO to show what the value would be if a project for those terms were to be completed. A great example of this is a keyword analysis I had completed around search for car makes, models and the long tail high intent to purchase year make model (ex: 2012 honda accord). During my research I had identified additional terms around reviews, for sale, used, and more that all would provide value to the user, but the website wasn't generating much traffic from SEO for. Using this analysis in conjunction with a report on what traffic and revenue the site was generating for these terms I put together a presentation for the company's VPs and CEO. The numbers generated from this report were also used to report against after the launch of the project.
In addition to a Keyword analysis a good enterprise SEO will know how to draft up assumptions of revenue increase when any work around SEO is done. Even the fixes that are talked about above that mitigate SEO for issues. Using the duplicate and similar content mentioned before, knowing how to fix this isn't enough. SEOs know just by looking at the situation that the issue is a problem and by making the corrections there will be an increase in traffic. However, expressing what the increase in traffic will be when the issue is resolved is what is required by an enterprise SEO. By understanding how much the click through rate will improve with an average position increase the SEO can then calculate the current click through rate adding the percentage increase if the average position of those pages saw an improvement. From there the SEO would take the average conversion rate with average order value to show the estimated revenue increase if the correction were to be made.
The SEO isn't finished with estimations and assumptions. Most enterprise SEOs are asked "what happened with that project we did?" or "How did that fix we did impact the business?". Using tools like Google Analytics in conjunction with Conductor the SEO can then report against the assumptions originally set. Conductor even has a great tool in Searchlight for Business Cases in which you plug in your estimates and it will track performance for you. For smaller sites setting up custom reports in Google Analytics works, and monitoring average position for a set of keywords that include a common word (or a few) as well as pages in Google Search Console will work.
SEO Project Management - determining growth and managing projects for SEO
|SEO isn't just about being reactive. |
It's about being proactive with projects that capture new opportunities.
Knowing that we wanted to target those search terms wasn't enough for SEO. I was tasked with writing up a project brief that would detail out exactly everything that was needed in order to get any sort of results. With SEO, content is key so I had added requirements around content that was valuable to the user. Working with other teams we brainstormed what users might find valuable that the business would allow us to expose outside of being logged in. I even had our legal team in the room to weigh in on what was legally allowed to expose to the public. Unfortunately, there wasn't much we could use that was provided by users so we identified data driven content (ex: people with similar names from different schools, nearby schools, rival schools, etc) that would provide value and would be unique to each page. Requirements around friendly URLs with a hierarchy (directory to file structure), breadcrumbs, etc all were added to the project brief. I was assigned a Project Manager who I worked closely with to ensure the project was moving along and all things SEO were being addressed.
At every enterprise company I have worked with in SEO I have developed major projects. From the names and schools at Classmates to location pages at usedcars.com and Nordstrom, and even the make model and year make model project from the keyword analysis example I mentioned earlier. Each and every one of the initiatives was set up with a Project Brief and managed through a Project Manager for SEO and overseen by myself.
Relationship Building for SEO - Championing SEO to stakeholders and other teams
|Nothing will ever get done for SEO |
if there isn't buy-in from other teams.
But what I am most thankful for is the ability to communicate and work with other individuals within the company. While my main responsibilities may be to not only increase traffic to the website through natural search marketing, my success stems from the success of others.I wrote that post during my time at Concur in which I was on a team that was extremely collaborative. We all seemed to help each other out with our roles even though we had specific responsibilities. There were a few people on the team that knew SEO and that I could bounce ideas off of. We would work together to come up with a plan. The team included the engineering team, designers, copy writers, and paid media channels. I specifically remember a project in which the directive came from above to create a community website around travel stories for our users. Using Eloqua as an email marketing tool we all sat in a room and developed a plan around user sign up with email touch rules that encouraged engagement. I was representing SEO, but was asked to provide ideas in all aspects, even the emails (which had nearly no value to SEO, though I snuck in some ideas around link sharing encouragement).
While I wrote my post while at Concur, my realization of how much the success in my role was reliant on others was years before while working at Classmates. I found myself in heated discussions with the head of engineering and often pushing the analytics team out of their comfort zone that wasn't getting me very far. I soon took the approach of inviting key stake holders to lunch and even set up weekly happy hours every Thursday that the CEO would attend to help build relationships I needed to gain buy-in for SEO. I soon became everyone's closest friend and was able to work through issues identified without arguing. As a result, over 10 years later I am still very close friends with quite a few people I worked with and had the head of engineering speak at one of my conferences a few years back.
During my time at Nordstrom I set up the goals of the team around strengthening relationships with other teams and being viewed as one voice of authority around SEO. I encouraged each team member to communicate often and stressed the importance of grabbing a cup of coffee or inviting people on other teams to lunch from time to time. I even found by going to lunch with a few of the stakeholders they worked in conjunction with me to prioritize projects where the team had gotten empty promises or push back in the past. Had I not have built those relationships and gotten to know the people I would not have the friends I have now, nor the support that SEO needed during my time there.
I'm not quite sure how most enterprise SEOs structure their work, if they focus on the four key aspects that I mentioned or if they have other structures they have established that work for them. I do know that after nearly 20 years working in SEO that the success that comes from SEO stems from these four key parts. For without one or another SEO would be simply just rolling along relying on the brand that a company has established as authority. But to show actual growth in enterprise SEO outside of the usual industry trends and relying on social media or PR to do it, a successful SEO will have a keen ability to mitigate SEO issues, analyse and report on SEO, develop and manage projects for growth and have strong relationships with others within the organization.