Enterprise SEO is a strange beast—on the one hand, enterprises are already well known names that rank highly on Google based on their brand recognition. On the other, Google is more meritocratic than most people realize, opening the door for niche small to midsize businesses to rank highly. For that reason, enterprises need to protect their status as a leader, not just in their market, but in the search results.
SEO for enterprises also comes with unique challenges. One of the biggest considerations is that large company websites are complex, and as a result, even minor changes can require difficult-to-obtain access. That’s why establishing an internally sellable strategy before you begin is so critical, and why the following process is crucial for enterprises seeking to invest in SEO:
- Explain why the SEO investment is needed
- Target keywords that attract decision makers
- Use the right page types for each keyword
- Strategically encourage linking to increase trust and build your brand
Let’s dive into each one.
Step 1: Explain Why The SEO Investment is Needed
Companies typically do SEO for visibility, thought leadership, and lead generation. Enterprises are already well known leaders in their space that have plenty of sales. Therefore, their marketing goals often fall into one of the following two categories: (1) fully owning the search results for keywords around their product lines or (2) breaking into new markets and supporting a product launch.
It’s important that the owner of an enterprise SEO initiative understands the steps along the way that will accomplish its goals. For instance, for a product launch, you would want some initial press and advertising support at launch, along with a tranche of SEO content ready to drop alongside the initial press release. (The content will not rank for weeks or months after the launch, but it will support the long term, organic growth of the product line through SEO.) However, the planning for that SEO content needs to take place up to 6 months before the launch. So your internal SEO presentation would include strategic planning to identify how to capture high value container keywords with the initiative. After that, content meant to rank on Google needs to be posted weekly to earn the Google news site bonus, and should be cross-posted to, and integrated into, other marketing channels such as e-mail and social media.
Presenting your plan to leadership also requires careful consideration. Your plan should address 4 key areas:
- Long term value of the SEO initiative
- Stakeholders and time commitment involved
- Budget considerations and break-even point
- The initiative’s symbiotic value with the division’s other goals
The first section, long term value, is where there is most room for “story” and therefore where the most impact occurs. The others are more in the realm of due diligence.
Step 2: Target Keywords That Attract Decision Makers
At its core, SEO is about answering the question: “What keywords do our customers search when they want or need to buy our product?” The words they input into the search box say a lot about the persona that’s searching, how far along in the funnel they are, and how qualified they are. Defining your keywords precisely, down to singular vs plural and present vs progressive tense, makes all the difference in an SEO campaign. Let’s dive into that a bit.
Each keyword or keyword phrase contains a world of subtext. Keywords can say to you “I’m an individual contributor who influences management,” or “I’m a decision-making member of my company’s leadership.” You may want to target influencers more than decision makers if you know their managers really want to support them. For example, sales team members receive a lot of financial support from management, so a keyword like “video sales presentation software” would have a lot of value even though it likely wouldn’t be typed in by a high level manager or C-suite member. The same principle would apply for technical searches such as “4th axis rotary vs lathe” in the CNC machining industry.
The most important keywords in your SEO strategy will be transactional keywords. These contain a word like “solutions”, “software”, or “services”—terms that a person only searches when they’re looking to commit. Next in line are research keywords—these indicate that the searcher is in the market but still weighing their options. These are phrases like “pros and cons”, “cost”, or “benefits”. Pages about these keywords are the perfect opportunity to establish yourself as a voice of authority when it comes to anything your customers might need to know about the industry.
Now that you’ve chosen keywords that support your goals, the third step revolves around using the right page types.
Step 3: Use the Right Page Types for Each Keyword
To properly satisfy the user’s search intent, you need to know what kind of page your searcher would find most useful. These are the 3 page types our firm has found to be most effective for enterprises:
- Targeted landing pages that promote conversion
- Blog articles that establish trust by answering research questions.
- Pillar pages that dominate search results
Which type of page you use will depend on the keyword. Let’s take a look at each in more detail.
Create Targeted Landing Pages to Promote Conversion
If your campaign goals are more focused on conversions, however, then make sure you create dedicated landing pages for the most highly transactional keywords you’ve selected. Each product, service, or location page is an opportunity for potential clients to find your website. The content on these pages will be the most sales-oriented on your website, as these pages are generally the last thing a customer visits before they commit to a purchase or decide to reach out.
As you start developing more and more specific landing pages, you can start running out of places to put them. The top level navigation menu should remain neat and succinct, but links to other internal pages can be embedded throughout the site to provide more detail as necessary. The Frequently Asked Questions page, for example, can provide quick answers, but also link to pages exploring the entirety of each issue. Likewise, an “Industries Served” page offers another way to internally link to narrow focus pages targeting different audience subsets. A “Services” page might contain paragraphs with brief descriptions of each service, but a link will take readers to more in-depth, tailored information to an individual need.
Build Trust with Blog Posts that Answer Research Questions
When it comes to enterprise SEO, you’ll often want to rank highly for keywords that aren’t necessarily going to lead to a sale, but are still valuable for establishing your brand’s reputation. Many of these keywords may not be as directly transactional as those that you build landing pages for, but they will still indicate that a visitor is definitely in the market for your products.
Someone who types a research keyword into Google is practically begging you to tell them about all the reasons they would want to use your product. But if you serve them up a product landing page, those visitors will be turned off by its heavier sales or conversion focus. Instead, a more conversational blog post is the best way to start a dialogue with them and begin to establish a relationship. Your goal with these blog posts is not to close a sale immediately, but demonstrate to your visitors that you’re an authority they should trust. When they’re ready to make a purchase in the future, that trust will pay off.
Use Pillar Pages to Dominate Search Results for Highly Competitive Keywords
Pillar pages are densely-populated pages with long-form content based on a particular topic. They are the single best way to rank for the highest competition keywords in an industry. To build one, you need a “cluster” of 5-10 pages each targeting a longtail keyword in a high volume container. The pillar page then links to each of those pages. For instance, the pillar might be “cloud security solutions,” with landing page and blog clusters for “best cloud security solutions 2021,” “cloud security solutions FAQs,” “cloud security solutions comparison,” and “cloud security solutions cost.”
The reason this is so effective is that it creates a positive feedback loop between your pillar page and each page in its cluster. The more highly ranked each page in the system, the more trust Google will assign to every page it links to. Google also sees that your website is “obsessed” with a particular topic, which increases your search rankings for that topic. When your campaign’s primary goal is to establish ownership of the broadest search terms in your industry, carefully planning out a pillar page strategy is the best way to ensure you succeed.
Step 4: Encourage Strategic Linking
While the importance of external links has diminished over the years, it continues to be one of the most important factors for both search engine rankings and brand building. This is a slow but steady process, and until you’ve built a large audience, it’ll take a while before your content attracts links. And be wary of anyone who promises to get you thousands of links fast. Google has gotten much better over the years at identifying any sort of “black hat” behavior, and will penalize you heavily for it.
Instead, the best way to do this is naturally—if you write great content, people will want to link to it. A particularly great way to do this is to write articles that contain valuable data and information that visitors can’t get anywhere else. A 3,000-word article packed with original research, exclusive interviews, and insightful analysis will attract a lot of readers who will then share the piece with their network, and become a valuable source for your entire industry. Even your competitors who are investing in their own content marketing programs will be tempted to link to your research, rather than going to the effort of doing their own.
Ultimately, this goes beyond just SEO and helps to build a reputable brand overall. Clients are willing to share your content, discuss your brand, and buy your products if you’ve given them a reason to trust your company. And when your name and links to your articles appear on websites all over the industry, not only does it increase your visibility and Google rankings, but inspires confidence in your customers.
Putting it All Together
Following each of these steps will ensure that your enterprise SEO strategy is successful. But it won’t be easy—after all, writing the best content on a topic might be a simple concept, but the execution is a different matter entirely. I recommend that campaigns at the enterprise level build a full in-house team of writers, editors, web developers, SEO strategists, and campaign managers. Another option is to outsource—but that can comes with its own price tag and its own considerations.
If you’ve found this primer helpful and you’d like to know more, feel free to contact us. At First Page Sage, we’ve been helping enterprise companies develop and implement their SEO campaigns for over 10 years.