Enterprise search engine optimization (SEO) is pricier and requires more stakeholders compared to a smaller-scale SEO strategy. Accordingly, you’re looking at either enormous ROI potential or huge amounts of wasted money, depending on how you run your campaigns.
On the bright side, 65% of enterprise marketers felt like their content marketing efforts were more successful in 2020 than in 2019.
But success can be defined any way you want, so it’s not a definitive metric. That’s why we’ve put together this 2021 enterprise 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.
What is Enterprise SEO?
Enterprise SEO is an SEO strategy for boosting traffic quantity and quality for an enterprise site, which has a relatively large number (often, many thousands) of pages. In enterprise SEO, you will likely use the same SEO platform, and digital marketing techniques as you would in small business SEO, only at a much larger scale.
Using an SEO agency is particularly important when pursuing an enterprise SEO strategy, since the huge scope of the involved site optimization efforts often necessitates additional guidance and expertise from an SEO expert. Enterprise SEO services from an SEO agency can help large organizations ensure that their marketing efforts reach the right target audiences.
More specifically, well-executed enterprise SEO can improve every aspect of an enterprise site, from its internal linking strategy to the keyword density of its articles. Overall, enterprise SEO is a critical component of multichannel enterprise marketing.
Like traditional SEO, enterprise SEO can be subdivided into three main types.
Types of Enterprise SEO
This type of SEO is all about making sure that an enterprise site aligns with the algorithms of modern search engines, i.e. the ways in which Google, DuckDuckGo et al. rank organic content. Technical SEO is the province of webmasters and site operators, who focus on activities including but not limited to:
- Building the proper enterprise site architecture.
- Setting up SEO-friendly URL structures.
- Configuring 404 pages and 301 redirects.
- Making pages as responsive as possible on mobile devices.
- Directing search engines to landing pages via XML sitemaps.
All of these backend actions and others help boost the indexability and crawlability of an enterprise site, as well as improve its front-end user experience.
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This form of enterprise SEO pertains to optimizing the copy and metadata on a web page itself. Key optimization criteria or an on-page SEO strategy include:
- Title tags
- Meta descriptions
- URL strings
- Alt text
- Internal linking
There’s also some overlap between on-page SEO and technical SEO, since a big part of optimizing on-page content is to ensure it loads quickly, is mobile friendly and can be crawled and indexed efficiently.
Off-page SEO encompasses all of the marketing activities that don’t directly occur on an enterprise site, but still impact its overall SEO. Factors include domain authority, backlinks, influencer marketing and pay-per-click and brand mentions on social media.
Local SEO also fits into this category. If your organization is featured in a Google or Yelp review for a certain geographic area, then that placement can boost the SEO of your enterprise site at-large. Similarly, updating Google My Business and other online directories may improve off-page SEO.
At the same time, local SEO can also be on-page, in the form of creating targeted content for local events and services and answering queries with local intent.
Organizations of all sizes deploy the aforementioned SEO strategies. But, as we’ll see, large enterprises have several distinct challenges and objectives to keep in mind.
Making Enterprise SEO Services Scalable
Typically, an enterprise is defined as any company employing more than 250 people. Enterprises are often national or global businesses and may be privately held or publicly traded. Their size necessitates a distinct type of SEO strategy.
Enterprise SEO vs. Traditional SEO
Compared to traditional SEO geared toward small or medium-sized organizations, enterprise SEO is more complicated, broader in scope and generally more closely scrutinized. Much more money and site traffic is at stake, too. The key challenge for enterprise SEO services, then, is in reaching sufficient scale to support an enterprise’s wide-reaching marketing objectives.
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 cited the following challenges in 2020:
Let’s break the top three SEO strategy hurdles down in more detail.
1. Poor Coordination
Unlike SMBs, enterprises are likely to have multiple departments and business units – and possibly even an entire portfolio of different brands and subsidiaries — that need to be woven into a coherent SEO strategy. Doing so isn’t always easy. Stakeholders from multiple departments may all want input on every deliverable that goes out the door, creating difficulties in ever reaching consensus.
2. Siloed Departments
The large size of an enterprise can lead to each of its departments operating in a silo, i.e. without much interaction with other parts of the organization. Siloed workflows can result in duplicate work, delays and ruffled feathers when once-separate teams finally do reconnect.
For example, imagine what would happen if a finance department cut a brand marketing team’s paid advertising budget, after the two units had not even interacted with each other for months. The marketing team would be angry at its campaigns being undercut, while finance might not understand what the issue was, since there hadn’t been much communication on what had been happening with paid ads before the cut.
3. Inconsistent Tech Integrations
Enterprises use a lot of software — we’re talking thousands of applications across the organization, in many cases. With this sprawl comes natural difficulties in connecting all of these different tools to each other and finding a single source of truth.
The marketing automation and customer relationship management stacks in particular are quite complex. Without a coherent strategy for selecting and integrating the right tools, a company’s enterprise SEO services may never achieve liftoff.
Tools for Making Enterprise SEO and Digital Marketing More Scalable
Speaking of tools, enterprise SEO requires software that scales with your business. Although many SEO platforms that work for traditional SEO will also work for enterprise SEO, we wanted to highlight a few that are commonly associated with large-scale projects:
- BrightEdge: This SEO platform has a unique Share of Voice feature that provides nuanced insights into the SEO and overall visibility of an enterprise. It also offers competitor analysis and integration with domain analytics.
- SearchMetrics: Richly featured yet intuitive to use, SearchMetrics is a go-to SEO and digital marketing platform that can do anything from generating an SEO brief to running detailed reports.
- SEMrush: The perfect tool for finding and researching keywords, which are one of the pillars of on-page SEO. SEMrush simplifies complicated tasks like finding semantically related keywords and determining a ballpark word count for enterprise SEO content.
- MarketMuse: This SEO platform is great for optimizing existing content and for planning new content that will reliably rank highly. Its interface provides in-depth insight into high-ranking competitors, along with comparisons of current keyword density on a page against MarketMuse’s recommended levels.
In addition to these SEO platforms, the ones below collectively cover every imaginable facet of SEO.
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 multi-quarter, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Ultimately, to make an enterprise SEO program work, you should be constantly validating your investments, compiling and reporting on performance data and seeking buy-ins from executives – in other words, you should always be playing offense.
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.
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.
Macro goals are where your money is.
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 digital 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 SEO 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 digital 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% 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.
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 June 2021.