Larger companies have enterprise-level SEO challenges. Solve 7 frustrating ecommerce issues with our in-depth how-to guide.
A common misconception among marketers is that SEO can be adapted similarly for any website, but success in driving results from search requires taking a highly customized approach, especially for enterprise SEO.
Every website is different and should be optimized for SEO based on its size, the industry it operates in, and the goals of the company.
Large enterprise ecommerce brands must tackle SEO differently by first understanding their unique needs, how to manage contributions from multiple departments and stakeholders, and the resources needed to optimize thousands of pages.
This is referred to as enterprise SEO, which is the process of increasing the visibility of a sizable and well-established brand’s website in search engines.
SEO is an important marketing medium to continue to invest in because, according to Edelman, millennials trust the content found via search engines more than traditional media, and they will soon make up the majority of your customer base.
It is difficult for a consumer to relate to a large ecommerce brand; the bigger a business is, the less personal the experience feels and the more challenging it is to build trust.
Establishing trust as a large ecommerce enterprise is essential for driving awareness, engagement, and sales from a customer base, which is one of many reasons why SEO is a valuable investment.
You must discover what defines your organization’s SEO needs at an enterprise level, what unique challenges your big company faces with SEO, and how to tackle these problems to achieve results.
SEO Challenges Faced by Larger Organizations
While it is obvious that an established brand would need enterprise SEO support for their website, newer ecommerce companies could also face a similar need due to a vast and complicated site.
To determine whether a website requires enterprise-level SEO support, analyze if the organization has encountered the following challenges.
Optimizing Hundreds of Webpages
There is no exact number of pages needed to distinguish an enterprise website from a mid-size company site. But if a web property has over a hundred pages indexed with Google, it is clearly a more complex site than most and is likely considered enterprise.
“The largest challenge is scale: When you have millions of pages, prioritizing work and even building crawl and indexation plans becomes a complicated math problem,” says, Brian Wood, associate director of marketing, SEO at Wayfair, an ecommerce brand specializing in home goods.
Having hundreds or thousands of pages on a website makes the process of optimizing for SEO more time-consuming and complicated, requiring unique considerations.
“For a fast-moving player like Wayfair.com, we also have hundreds of code releases a day, so the technical SEO target is always moving and new features are continually being released, Wood adds. “This requires additional SEO attention and constantly shifting priorities.”
Managing Countless Backlinks
Authority in search is best defined by the number and variety of quality links pointing to a website. Similar to reviewing the number of pages a website has, there is not a minimum number of links that make it large enough to need enterprise SEO support.
If a website has thousands of links, that may clarify their needs, but what is also important is the number of different referring domains and the amount of links generated on a daily and monthly basis.
Both link considerations provide insight into the complexity of a site’s link management needs, and the more intricate either is, the more likely this is a significant challenge to monitor on an ongoing basis.
A Vast Product Inventory
The amount of products on a website can also complicate the process of optimizing for search from a time and resources perspective.
“I’d say our biggest challenges are to continue high growth at scale,” says Scott Laughlin, SEO manager at Walmart. “We’re also adding millions of SKUs and it is a challenge to get them optimized and discoverable on search engines at the same pace that we’re publishing them.”
Determine how many total number of products and product categories there are on your website. If you have more than a hundred products available for purchase, you’ll need an enterprise-level SEO strategy.
Integration With Complex CRM and CMS Systems
When working on the SEO of a large site, it is important to integrate these efforts with the existing tools, platforms, and systems in place, like the content management system (CMS) and/or the customer relationship management system (CRM).
Ensuring all SEO efforts coordinate with an existing tool stack is important because the results of an SEO strategy and marketing automation systems overlap as one supports the other in terms of generating leads, capturing information about search traffic, etc.
If a website is using an advanced CMS like Drupal or Joomla or CRM like Salesforce or Oracle, they require a bigger investment to sync with SEO and therefore, are mainly found on websites with a need for enterprise-level search optimization.
Targeting a Long List of Keywords
The amount of keywords a website ranks for currently and hopes to in the future is an indication of the complexity of its SEO needs.
If a company is currently ranking for thousands of keywords and wishes to compete for thousands more in a particular vertical, this is a clear indication of a need for an advanced SEO strategy.
Miscommunication Across Teams
The larger an organization, the more employees and departments are needed to ensure the company continues to grow effectively.
A business is in need of an enterprise-level SEO strategy when multiple departments and stakeholders manage the same web properties.
Large companies are often slow to optimize a website for SEO as the number of approvals needed and departments involved with a site make the process overly complex.
Site Overhauls Are Elaborate
Changes made to an enterprise-level ecommerce site can be difficult and challenging by nature and lead to major issues if not done correctly.
It is not uncommon for an enterprise brand to upgrade the technology on their website to be mobile responsive or acquire another company and merge the two websites, requiring attention to detail to guarantee their SEO rankings aren’t affected.
How to Address These Issues and Scale
With a stronger understanding of what defines an enterprise website and the associated SEO challenges, it is necessary to adopt solutions that scale as they solve a problem.
According to Brian Wood, the most efficient methods for addressing these problems at scale are:
- Optimizing for technical SEO
- Using page templates
- Monitoring the flow of PageRank
However, he suggests that enterprise marketers be careful to not rely too heavily on any one technique to scale as success is often achieved with a hands-on approach.
“The best way to gain big is by investing in people and tools to do the kind of SEO work that isn’t automated; it’s the tactics that aren’t easily replicated that give us the opportunity to excel.”
Here are four ways to solve the most common enterprise-level SEO problems.
Choosing Talent With the Right Skillset
The first step to enterprise SEO is ensuring the marketing team has the correct skills to handle the needs of this type of website, which according to a Conductor survey is the most challenging obstacle to enterprise SEO success by 57 percent.
Whether you’re running ecommerce as the head of marketing or you’re part of the SEO team, a very specific skillset is required in order to guarantee success with driving results from organic search traffic on a large website.
“A marketer with the right skillset to manage enterprise SEO is an uncommon mix of generalist and a specialist, as they need to juggle vastly different responsibilities, while also having a deep knowledge of SEO and how websites work,” says Grant Buckley, senior SEO strategist at Digital Current.
According to Buckley, success with an enterprise SEO strategy comes when a marketer remains up-to-date with the industry to account for any changes and updates to search algorithms.
A marketer also needs to be highly technical, even if they aren’t executing changes themselves, to understand what problems a website is facing and how to start fixing them on such a large scale without making an issue worse.
Whether faced with a major responsive design overhaul or the integration of SAP as a CRM, a marketer with extensive technical experience is equipped to ensure their SEO efforts aren’t negatively impacted.
Creativity is required as well, says Buckley, because “it takes an original approach to continually manage the many moving parts of an SEO strategy for an enterprise-level brand.”
A minor change can have a major impact on a larger site’s progress with SEO, which is why it is vital to understand how each optimization impacts other aspects of the website.
Another necessary skill is being organized and strategic about the overall approach to enterprise SEO management as there are many areas to address, but in order to be mindful of time and resources, priorities need to be defined based on your site analytics and any issues that arise.
Lastly, having experience across different product lines and industries will position a marketer for the best chance at success, since they’ll be prepared to handle any SEO-related issues that arise.
Finding marketers with the required skillsets to run SEO for large companies is difficult, which is why brands often outsource all or part of their SEO to consultants or an SEO agency like Digital Current to ensure experts operate their search efforts with care.
Another skill a marketer should possess to manage enterprise SEO is the ability to communicate effectively with all stakeholders, internally and externally.
“Much of the success with enterprise SEO is coordinating the various teams that operate each part of a client’s website,” says Kevin Paulson, SEO strategist at Digital Current.
An enterprise business likely has a PR team, a content team, an IT team, and others managing a website at any one time, requiring consistent communication around issues being addressed, opportunities worth investing in, and the goals of SEO.
“If SEO is isolated from the other stakeholders, you are going to spend your time extinguishing fires instead of going forward,” Julien Berard, SEO manager at Coastal Contacts, an ecommerce brand specializing in eyewear and contacts, says.
According to Kevin Paulson, the biggest challenge here is convincing each stakeholder that certain SEO changes need to be made and require an investment of time and resources.
To remedy this issue, he suggests communicating the potential benefits of any SEO optimizations from both a short-term and long-term perspective to confirm buy-in.
The timeline of any changes is also important to clarify to each team involved to set expectations as some SEO updates can take three to six months to fully implement and six months to a year to show measurable results.
Prioritize Issues and Opportunities
When running a website with hundreds of pages, backlinks, products, and keywords, developing a streamlined SEO strategy is necessary to prioritize where time is spent.
Every enterprise ecommerce business should create a strategy that is consistently referred to by all stakeholders to guarantee a coordinated approach to SEO that defines what the organization’s priorities are.
A documented enterprise SEO strategy should include the following sections:
1. Conversion: The processes an organization should implement to streamline the buyer’s journey from a search engine results page to a website that leads to a sale. Creating a framework for optimizing for conversions requires reviewing the most common pages across a website where customers continually exit the site.
Refer to your analytics to determine which categories and pages are top priorities based on the search traffic sent to them and what percentage of these visitors bounce.
2. Content: The systems and templates in place to create different types of content for use across the website need to be fully optimized for search, while also driving conversions and prioritizing key product categories.
Develop content to match each stage of the customer funnel to provide value to visitors at every touch point. Lastly, list procedures for detecting top-performing pages in search to inform future investments in content across a website.
3. Optimization: Create procedures to prioritize which pages and categories across a brand’s website should be optimized for on-page ranking factors and reviewed to correct any indexing issues like canonicalization errors or the wrong keyword focus on a page.
Since there are often too many pages to optimize on a large company’s website, prioritizing what types of pages get attention first is a critical concern to account for.
4. Authority: A large backlink profile provides an opportunity to identify links that need to be disavowed and inform link building outreach, which is why creating a system around this process is important for ongoing authority in search.
An enterprise website will get some low-quality backlinks pointing to them, either by accident or purposely done by competitors. Review your link profile manually to see which links are hurting rankings and send a request to Google for them to be disavowed.
Your site will likely get mentioned online often and without a link, which provides you with an opportunity to grow your backlink profile by reaching out to the site and requesting they link to you. If they already mention you, they’ll likely have little issue including a link.
5. Promotion: A program outlining the process of reaching industry influencers and building relationships with them to promote a company’s top performing content.
Enterprise companies should consistently monitor who their competitors are partnering with in terms of bloggers and social media influencers in order to keep pace and continue to work with partners that will drive continued awareness, engagement, and links to their site.
Implement Templates When Possible
Instead of optimizing every page on your website, invest in developing dynamic page templates to mass upload changes to whole categories of pages.
A dynamic page template could be used to update an existing page or to prepare a new page for publishing to streamline the search optimization process.
Scott Laughlin, of Walmart, agrees that an effective way to scale is by optimizing meta content algorithmically rather than manually. “We think about SEO performance mostly by page-type and then think about how we can make each page-type perform.”
A typical template can be customized to include a call-to-action, updated pricing, meta descriptions, page headers, keyword choices or other elements repeatedly added to a site’s individual pages.
For example, Sportsman’s Warehouse, an ecommerce brand focused on products for outdoor enthusiasts, partnered with Digital Current to scale their enterprise SEO efforts using templates for their product pages amongst other strategies.
To compete with leading competitors and increase organic visibility, Sportsman’s needed to address technical concerns identified in an audit, as well as strengthen the focus of their keyword strategy and disavow any low-quality links in their profile.
For the purposes of streamlining the optimization of their product pages, Digital Current provided the client with a custom template to help them update multiple pages at once to save time and resources.
Through the dynamic search optimization across their website and a refocused strategy, Sportsman’s increased organic traffic by 24 percent year-over-year and increased organic revenue by 11 percent year-over-year.
Solve Your Enterprise SEO Challenges
Follow Sportsman’s lead as an enterprise ecommerce brand and scale your SEO by investing in the right talent, coordinating the input of multiple stakeholders, prioritizing what sections of a website get optimized, and building out templates to handle repetitive page changes.
What’s worked for your organization when optimizing for SEO across a large website? Did we miss any challenges you’ve regularly faced when optimizing for search? Let us know over on Twitter @DigitalCurrent.