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Challenges Creating Compelling SEO Content in the Enterprise

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The firm I work with recently issued organic search rankings for the world’s leading high-tech marketers using the patented Covario SEO Audit Score™ system.

We took a look at how well Fortune 500 high-tech companies optimize their landing pages for specific keywords, so that they play a critical role in giving their brands optimal search engine visibility for high-traffic terms and phrases.

Within the overall scoring system, there are sub-scores for content, technical quality and linking. We found that those high-tech marketer websites with Content Audit Scores above 75 (out of 100) also had an average Google organic rank of 12. That’s page-two results, folks. Naturally the lower the Content Audit Score, the lower the rankings in the search engines for the high-tech sector.

Needless to say that the high-tech sector is teeming with marketers who know more than a thing or two about building lasting brands online. Many global brand marketers understand that organic search is a powerful branding channel when people are conducting product research. This size of enterprise almost always has SEO programs in place that follow what SEO best practices practitioners preach.

So why is it that the larger the enterprise the greater the challenges they face when it comes to creating search engine and people friendly content?

It’s because SEO is different for large companies as opposed to smaller businesses. Yes -- similar tactics are used to optimize websites for small business and big businesses alike, but on a different scale, of course. Enterprise level websites create more problems for SEO practitioners not just because they are bigger, but because they add layers of complexity into each channel of their online marketing processes.

For example, larger enterprise-level websites tend to have some, if not all of the following issues to overcome.

SEO implementation hurdles due to:

  • Suboptimal content management systems (CMS)
  • IT resource challenges
  • Untrained and/or third party personnel
  • Budgeting limitations
  • Millions of pages; much of it duplicate or very similar content
  • Multiple countries and languages with multiple entry pages
  • Flawed attribution data and/or limited analytics programs
  • Multiple stakeholders with divergent strategies
  • Multiple service providers with divergent priorities

Most online marketers and/or IT staff members for larger businesses have also had some history with SEO. That is to say that most, if not all, Fortune 500 firms have tackled major or minor SEO initiatives over the past few years. Consequently, each enterprise’s marketing structures, technical processes, business priorities, and overall SEO knowledge can be quite different from one enterprise to another – even within in the same industry.

All of this adds up for making the race toward SEO success a marathon more so than a sprint for big businesses. But attaining SEO success doesn’t have to be this challenging, especially when it comes to creating compelling, search engine-friendly content. If some measure of accord can be fostered between key stakeholders around business and marketing goals, then the path toward winning the first leg of a SEO race to higher rankings is not far very away. You just have to be willing to separate the whole from it parts.

Enterprise SEO themes illustrated by Wordle.net

What the heck does that mean?

Let’s take a look at a “normal” SEO initiative for a large enterprise. What usually happens is … A senior executive signs a contract with a SEO agency and hands off steerage to a VP of marketing or sometimes IT. The VP in turn hands off the SEO program management to a director, who is also the up-line for the in-house SEO manager. The SEO in-house manager will work with the organization’s personnel and other third-party agencies for tactical implementation of SEO recommendations as made by the SEO experts at the agency.

This is a recipe for failure, especially when dealing with a mature enterprise that has implemented multiple layers of SEO recommendations over the years. Nowhere in the process does a conversation occur about who controls the content on the websites, on the microsites or blogs, in its press releases, in Twitter and on Facebook, or at Flickr and YouTube -- let alone if the enterprise is willing and able to flex business processes in order to improve content quality of its individual online entities.

Otherwise what usually happens is that the SEO consultancy invests time and money to produce some great content that goes through to the online marketing team for approval and then hits the public relations department’s filters for branding continuity, and next gets reviewed and edited by the legal team, only to secure sign-off and some last-minute tweaks from a middle-manager who sends the content to an off-shore IT department only to stand in line for being added to the website during the next round of IT updates.

Three months later the phenomenal SEO content sees the light of day; however, it’s not what you wrote. It’s been compartmentalized and broken down into being the same-old plain vanilla piece of nothing that is now duplicated across the enterprise’s websites in 22 countries in 18 languages.

This is the problem with enterprise level SEO campaigns tasked with creating competing, search engine-friendly content. This is why the real potential for producing SEO success lies in optimizing the communication of expectations of SEO goals up and down the different parts of an enterprise’s online marketing ecosphere.

Search engine success for larger enterprises is attained when SEO goals are wholly aligned with the enterprise’s business and marketing goals, and then entirely communicated throughout the many layers of the business line. All SEO agencies need to do to affect this type of paradigm shift is to bring the concept of the content creation processes into the conversation from the get-go, as opposed to waiting until it’s done-gone.


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