This year, smart money will be spent on implementing search engine optimization (SEO) initiatives that scale.
Where should enterprises allocate the bulk of their SEO budget this year? Seek out opportunities to realign these three core areas of enterprise search to get the biggest bang out of your SEO bucks in 2011.
1. Optimize Your CMS
If you can't readily edit title tags, keep session identifiers out of URLs, or programmatically specify your canonical tags, then your enterprise will definitely benefit from spending some of its SEO budget on optimizing your content management system (CMS).
A search engine optimal CMS possesses, but isn't limited to, the following attributes:
- Directory structures should contain multiple variables, have the ability to use keywords (separated by dashes) in filenames, and not rely on the use of session IDs for tracking.
- Redirects should default to permanent (301) status and be capable of being modified.
- All templates ought to be W3C compliant and employ valid DOCTYPE declarations.
- XML and HTML sitemaps should be set up to automatically prompt the addition of newly created content.
- All title tags, heading tags, meta descriptions, and alternative attributes for images should be automatically populated, but must be manually editable.
- Nofollow and noindex attributes should be supported site wide for use on an as-needed basis.
- Readily allow for the addition of user generated content.
- Easily allow for adding social media widgets and/or plug-ins.
- Allow for optimal displays of pagination systems.
Many content management systems have perfectly dreadful default settings that can impair your SEO initiatives straight out of the box. When fundamental SEO best practices are baked into the schema of things, your ROI scales year, after year.
2. Speed Up Your CDS
While most enterprises leverage organizations use of a content delivery networks (CDN) to hasten the geographical delivery of globalized web content, attaining new coding efficiencies within your website can now help provide a little bit of lift to your overall search engine visibility.
The best way to determine where you can help speed up the delivery of your website's content is to turn to Google itself -- at least if you have access to Google Webmaster Tools. Google Webmaster Tools will provide you with a good overview of how your site compares to others for its tortoise or hare-like qualities.
Simply log into your account and go to the Labs section to review your site's overall performance and load times for specific pages. From there, you can install a page speed extension for Firefox to get more ideas about how to speed up your site.
If you don't have access to Google Webmaster Tools for your site, there are several Firefox plug-ins and extensions you can use to gain insight into where programming improvements could be made.
I usually have to make most of my recommendations without the benefit of access to Google Webmaster Tools, so I prefer to use the YSlow add-on for Firebug. But you could also use the Page Speed Firefox add-on or many other tools to get a handle on which programming enhancements could help turbo-charge your website.
The greatest challenges for most enterprises seeking to rev up their content delivery systems aren't knowledge based. Getting the online marketing, IT, and development staff to play nicely together when prioritizing this year's programming projects will be your greatest challenge.
Securing C-level oversight is critical if you want to make sure your organization puts its www-metal to the pedal this year.
3. Be a Social Climber
Getting nearly real-time search results in Google and Bing can help contribute to expanding your organization's social footprint as well as help to build new levels of brand awareness within the technorati. Yet there is often a disconnect between social media and search engine marketing departments in large enterprises.
You have the opportunity to bridge the gap this year if you can just arrange for a search and social meet-up.
How can you help make every tweet, share, stumble, and like count for nearly any page in your website? Work to build these SEO processes into your social initiatives in order to becoming a more singular online marketing force:
- Track social media segments within your current metrics package. If not readily available, get Google Analytics set up for your websites now because it can readily report data from different social segments.
- Ensure that keyword research is part of your search and social processes. Quick trending snapshots can be gleaned from Google Insights, Google Trends, or Yahoo Clues.
- Produce and automatically update a landing page map so that all your online marketing promotions aggregate both traffic and inbound links to a singularly canonical source.
- Make link building initiatives contribute to your root domain by customizing your own branded URL shorteners that have permanent redirects (301s) and canonical tag elements built into the process.
Social media marketers just need to know a little bit about SEO (and vice versa) in order to help make social media crossover campaigns translate into scalable SEO success for your enterprise this year.