2012 has been a year of rapid change. The markets have changed, the search algorithms have changed, the SERP results have changed, and how we define what we do is changing.
We're in an industry that is now 15 years old and growing rapidly. SEO is forecast to be a $2.2 billion industry, according to the Forrester U.S. Interactive Marketing Forecast 2011 to 2016.
The growth and importance of SEO and the fusion of search, site, and social fueled by advancement and integration of technology brings opportunity to scale our search and integrated marketed efforts to best effect for the best results. Here are some tips and a process that will help you build and, most importantly, scale your SEO campaigns in 2013.
What is Enterprise SEO?
A common misconception about enterprise SEO is that it is directly related to company size. Many companies and large brands with complex infrastructures, multi departments, multiple site and multiple products are well suited to enterprise SEO. However, small companies that manage large and multiple sites also use enterprise SEO.
Enterprise SEO involves managing search and social campaigns holistically using a suite of integrated tools that include monetary, productivity, and relationship management type solutions. From a technological perspective – it is a platform of integrated tools and features.
Building Your 2013 Enterprise SEO Solution
Enterprise SEO captures and builds upon opportunities not just across your site, search and social campaigns but focuses on the interplay of data across these functions. How you use this data, execute and align action throughout your organization will be critical to your success in 2013.
There are many ways to build an enterprise SEO campaign. For many, at first, the task may seem a little daunting. Above is a structured way of looking at it and breaking it down to make the process easier to digest.
Channels and Data
Your site should be at the center of you SEO strategy. Building your enterprise SEO campaign means you need to recognize every entity in SEO, the subjects of your SEO strategy. These include pages, keywords, keyword groups, backlinks and social signals.
- Success and value based metrics: This is every metric that measures success as defined by you and your business – goals, business outcome, sales, conversions such as downloads, bounce rate – revenue and return.
- SEO variables - every variable that impacts and/or correlates with these metrics.
- Traffic – visits, page visits, keyword traffic
- Links – Domain- and backlink-based
- Rank – Position for volume based and long-tail terms and branded vs. non-branded
- On-page – title tags, H1 tags, alt attributes, anchor text
- Social – Signals, Likes, +1’s
- Content – keyword density, copy, headlines, text to content ratios and so forth
Google continues to evolve its algorithm to promote great content and demote sites that are focused on gaming or reverse engineering the algorithm. Google updates such as Panda and Penguin are indications that these search short-term tactics are over.
Link Analysis and Link Building
All your enterprise link building strategies are built to pursue 100 percent white hat practices.
Understanding and adapting to the way that SEO has changed is essential. Keeping up with change and innovation is a time and resource heavy tasks.
A great example of this type of best practice is highlighted in a detailed 8 page Majestic SEO and Rosetta Marketing Whitepaper on backlink management and best practices.
Local and Mobile
Google’s recent changes with regard to social signals and local search signify an important shift and focus on mobile search as, in parallel, mobile adoption rates surge.
Search is also more local now as results vary by location and your enterprise SEO technology needs to deliver refined SEO success metrics and variables based on location.
Many enterprise SEO campaigns need to also reach global audiences. For many, ranking globally is a top priority. Not only does this boost your marketing ROI, it also maintains your brand online and globally.
Now actually managing a global SEO is campaign is a whole post or two in itself as you look for variance and differences across local nuisances, translation, search engine types, and global law. Crispin Sheridan from SAP gives some great tips here on global SEO best practices.
Blended Search and Universal Search
SERPs now not only include blue links but also images, video, places, and news, among others. Your 2013 enterprise SEO strategy should make use of this opportunity to dominate the SERP by:
- Tracking and analyzing universal rank performance for its keywords. It gives you more visibility into how different content types are doing on the SERPs
- Tracking ‘blended rank’ (i.e., rank of the big blue links amongst all types of search results). It also gives you a better measure of their performance on the SERP – see metrics section above
As the market has a renewed focus on content in 2013 measuring how and where your content ranks.
Enterprise SEO requires looking across traditional SEO techniques and social media channels. Social is a productive channel since search engines increasingly rely on social media traction for pages in order to decide how to rank them. Social media, influence and social media link building should all form part of your 2013 strategy.
For example, enterprise SEO teams are increasingly using Twitter to drive SEO campaigns. Leading brands like Adobe and Tiny Prints have actually driven rank by increasing tweets sharing those pages.
There are several data points you can use to build your campaigns. For example:
- Understand which keywords are trending on Twitter and promote mapping pages.
- Correlate Tweets with rank – where you see a positive correlation reinforce Twitter activity.
Analysis and Opportunity
You aren't the only company vying for your audience’s attention, click, and revenue. Understanding where your competitors are positioned in SEO is one important aspect in today’s competitive landscape for meeting your organic search goals.
There are several ways to look at competitive intelligence. One framework approaches this from the content, authority, and opportunity angles.
Another good way to approach the opportunity aspect of competitive intelligence is looking at:
- Improving share of voice: Understanding you and your competitors’ performance and strategies, and using this to improve your own share of voice.
- Forecasting opportunity: Quantifying the value of SEO opportunities.
A key component of your 2013 enterprise SEO strategy should involve keeping an eye on competition since what they do affects you too.
- Analytics for existing competition: Your enterprise SEO strategies should support competitive intelligence. For example, track how the competition is doing, vary analytics and actions based on this. This can be in the form of rank for your competitors for the keywords and keyword groups that matter to you; their backlink profile including anchor text and authority of linking domains
- Discover new competition: Your known competition is on your radar. But be sure to include all your competition. For example, those that are in your line of business and are grabbing SERP real estate as well as those that happen to rank well even though they have nothing to do with your business. The latter are usually ignored since they don’t steal your business but they occupy positions that could have gone to you.
- For both, deconstruct SEO strategies: The list of competitors isn't enough. Look into building a system that helps you understand what their strategies are and what their target keywords are. Where is the competition getting their links? What’s the anchor text? What relevant keywords are they ranking for that you are not ranking for?
- Turn your competitive intelligence into opportunities and close any gaps: Discover new keywords that you should be tracking, domains that are potential back linkers and so forth. You will uncover areas where your competition is doing well but you aren't – narrow this gap. You see areas where you're way ahead of competition – keep doing this better
The best way to decide where to invest your SEO resources is by projecting potential returns form each project. This way, enterprise SEO organizations allocate resources based on hard driven data.
Building your enterprise SEO campaign includes developing the expertise to:
- Create a forecasting model: Know what problem you want to solve. Know what to forecast and how this will determine your actions and decisions. Know what determines the business result you want to forecast. Quantify how these variables will affect the business result.
- Build the opportunity model: Allow for multiple scenarios, Define and place value on opportunities. Run the forecast for multiple scenarios.
- Take Action: Based on projected revenues and business results.
Execution and Return
CRM, workflow and task management are a huge part on enterprise SEO campaigns – especially those for large brands that have multiple departments, sites, and reporting structures.
Good enterprise SEO involve technology and systems that align goals and objectives across your/your clients organization efficiently.
Your enterprise SEO strategy should be set up to take the in-depth analytics and data and actually act on it. It should also foster a collaborative mindset driven by streamlining the way marketing activities are executed. It should also provide full visibility into how the teams are executing on its goals.
In order to build the most advanced enterprise SEO campaign it is important to use data to action. This comes from:
- Reporting based on role: Enterprise SEO assumes that there are different roles within a marketing organization – the VP of marketing interested in revenue from portfolio of sites; director of search looking at rank and conversions from a subset of sites; and SEO managers seeking insight into keyword rank performance. Your enterprise SEO strategy should have the ability to deliver this varied insight depending on who’s seeing it. Also, every role digests information differently – executives need dashboards; SEO practitioners love to get their feet into the data. An enterprise SEO system not only satisfies different levels of hunger for data but also serves it in recopies digestible to each audience and especially the CMO.
- Moving from understanding to action: Your campaign now has all the data, you have worked out how to present it in formats fine tuned to different audiences. Now is the time to extract real understanding and take action. It's important to build a mechanism automatically calls out what actions to take. Ideally this mechanism should list possible and different actions that see people and managers can see right through your organization. Ensure your mechanism is comprehensive and can provide control to the SEO manager to target any of the SEO goals in previous section and provide insight on which variables should be controlled to achieve these goals.
- Clear KPIs and organizational alignment: You have the data and now it's time to share. Ensure that a clear understanding and agreement on your objectives such as:
- Who does what?
- How will you define KPIs for each team member?
- How are these KPIs related to the overall goals of marketing?
- Is every team member aware of how their KPI is related to the overall goals?
- Streamlined Process – how tasks are executed with owners, deadline and status reporting: Knowing what the next steps is a great. The next step is to create a scalable program that takes all these steps and assign it to the concerned team members. Ensure all activities also has a deadline, decided in collaboration with the team member in charge of it as well as other team members on who this task might have dependencies.
- Real-time visibility and transparency: In order to build a soundly executed SEO strategy 100 percent visibility will be required into how well the team is executing on all tasks. Corrective action, such as adding more resources to complete pending tasks, reallocating people to the tasks, may be needed. Every team member has to be in the loop about activities that influence their work or their own activities that impose dependencies on others.
- Automation and efficiency: Does your data tell you that you need fix the on-page factors for the new landing page you just created? Then you probably assigned it as a task to your web team. How do you know if the task was completed? You could have the web team to update you on progress but building or utilizing an automated system – which automatically tells you when the on page factors get fixed – saves you vital time. Pursuing a back link on your partners site? Use or create a system that notifies you as soon as the link goes live with the right anchor text.
Executive Buy in and Operational SEO
A true enterprise SEO strategy across sites, search and social needs executive buy in and support. The execution of your strategy is dependent on multiple teams and team members doing their job in a collaborative manner – this varies between brand/in-house and agency models.
There are multiple moving parts that span across all areas of marketing, content, PR, and demand generation. Under such circumstances, it helps to have an executive champion ready to solve any technical, financial and people issues while reinforcing the important of the enterprise SEO strategy.
Ben McKay, Head of Organic Performance at MoneySupermarket shares some great insight.
“Be brave with organizational design. Prior to 2011, a team of 20 SEO’s might have been relevant to deliver campaigns, but moving forward a team of 10 SEO’s and 10 specialist digital marketers might be more value adding for both the business and consumers alike…at MoneySupermarket, we have seen a great deal of career development and satisfaction come on the back of this transition too.”
Close the Loop on ROI
After you run forecasts, run analysis on what’s working across channels, it's important to see if you actually got the ROI you should.
For example, if you assigned a dollar value for a keyword opportunity that you pursued, did you actually realize the goals? If not, why? What went wrong? Were you projections off and was that due to any assumptions? Or was it a problem of execution – were you slow to execute on the content development plans in order to boost rank?
The reasons could be dime a dozen – the point is, after every project assess your ROI achievements and be sure to look across your:
- Your data across sites, search and social
- Your execution
- ROI projections
What’s more – providing a tight integration of analytics with SEO enables companies to pull in ROI measurement and glean insights on how their efforts are performing and what actions they need to take. Integration allows you, as marketers and not just SEO professionals, to look across channels to measure total productivity across all digital disciplines.
2013 will involve looking closely at not just SEO, but also how it relates to content and social media and broader digital marketing and cross channel integration. More on that next year.