Enterprise SEO Guide: 2022 Edition
In the last decade, enterprise SEO has shifted from a relatively simple model of regular content production and link building to a much more complex, AI-based approach. Today, Google’s algorithm places a much larger emphasis on high-effort content that directly addresses the search intent of customers. In addition to making old school techniques like keyword stuffing and link building services obsolete, the new algorithm has also enabled smaller companies to challenge the search rankings of enterprises by investing in content. While still at a distinct resource advantage, enterprise marketers need to focus more precisely on intent-based content to maintain a dominant position in Google’s search results.
In this guide, we lay out the six core elements of a successful enterprise SEO campaign. They are:
- Define your SEO goals
- Organize with the Hub & Spoke SEO strategy
- Analyze search intent to choose keywords that support your goals
- Build the team that will create your thought leadership content
- Publish at least twice weekly
- Measure results and iterate
Define Your SEO Goals
Unlike companies whose goal for SEO is purely lead generation, enterprises typically have more multi-faceted goals. Defining these goals is the first step to take when conceiving a new SEO campaign, as they will inform the subsequent stages of your campaign. The table below lists the top SEO goals for most enterprise businesses.
Top Enterprise SEO Goals
|Brand Awareness||Sustaining Engagement||Brand Health||Search Visibility|
|Increasing the space your company occupies in audience members minds||Making insightful points and keeping content interesting.||Promoting positive consumer attitudes about your company||Increasing your website’s SERPs for valuable keywords|
|Innovation||Generating Leads||Driving Conversions||Organizational Efficiency|
|Collaborating with customers/partners to create unique offerings||Delivering helpful, informative content that invites consideration||Helping prospects move down the funnel.||Answering questions to reduce customer service burdens|
|Thought Leadership||Attracting Backlinks||Overcoming Competition||Website Maintenance|
|Directing the conversation in your field.||Attracting the attention of reputable online publishers||Outranking competitors and converting more searchers||Ensuring visibility and appeal by keeping a fresh, updated website|
|Omnichannel Promotion||Sales Tools||Client Onboarding||Social Sharing|
|Driving business from online to offline and vice versa||Developing in-depth sales tools such as product demonstrations and features comparisons||Developing materials to help new users get the most from your product||Increasing brand health while discussing trending topics|
It can be helpful to either rank your campaign’s SEO goals or place them in a Tier 1 / Tier 2 / Tier 3 structure. Tier 1 is “must-have,” Tier 2 is “nice to have,” and Tier 3 is “bonus.”
Next, we’ll discuss the basic strategy enterprise SEO should use.
Organize with the Hub & Spoke Model
The Hub & Spoke model is the most effective overall approach to enterprise SEO. It organizes your keywords into two eponymous categories:
- Hubs, i.e. big picture, “root” keywords (typically 3-5)
- Spokes for each hub: longtail, transactional keywords that each contain the hub keyword in its entirety (typically 10-25)
The major benefit of this approach is that it acts as a forcing function to prioritize your keyword choices. It also lends itself to a clear menu structure in your website’s header. Consider the following potential hub and spokes that a a cloud-hosting enterprise might choose to target:
|VPS hosting||VPS hosting pricing||linux VPS hosting||windows VPS hosting|
|dedicated server||linux dedicated servers||windows dedicated server||managed dedicated server|
|email hosting||zimbra email hosting||ms exchange email hosting||bulk email hosting|
And here is what the website header drop-down menu might look like:
Notice that the full hub keyword is found in each spoke. While the hub, “VPS hosting,” for instance, could speak to a variety of potential searchers, the spoke itself narrows its focus to a much smaller audience. For example, “VPS hosting” speaks to someone much more interested in buying compared to the less transactional “what is VPS hosting?” Which keyword your prioritize will depend on your goal, whether it’s to generate leads, develop sales tools, or another goal we listed above.
The second—and far more important—benefit, is that it takes advantage of the increasingly important Niche Expertise factor of Google’s algorithm. Google rewards websites that it sees as being “obsessed” with a specific topic, allowing them to even rank more highly than authoritative resources like Wikipedia. Writing and publishing exclusively about a small number of hub topics results in significantly higher rankings than a scattered approach. This is especially true at the enterprise level, where ranking in the top 3 for each high competition hub is a higher priority than for smaller companies.
Analyze Search Intent to Choose Keywords that Support Your Goals
When users search your selected keywords, they are doing so with an intended purpose. In some instances, they may be prepared to buy out right, in other cases they may be looking for that last final push, and in other cases yet they may simply be looking for general information to fix a specific problem. Whatever this specific use case, this is what we call search intent.
To get an idea of the vast array of possible search intents, consult the table below
|Search Intent||Use Case||Keyword||Content Type||Transactionality|
|Buy||User is looking to purchase a product||VPS hosting free trial||Product page||Entirely transactional|
|Commit||User is reviewing products before sale.||best VPS hosting provider||Landing page or review||Highly transactional|
|Evaluate||User knows they will buy something, but they don’t know what.||VPS hosting features||Landing page/Super landing page||Mostly transactional|
|Solve||User is looking for the solution to a specific problem.||how to migrate to VPS hosting||Blog post||Moderately transactional|
|Clarify||User wants to find out more about a problem they don’t understand.||VPS hosting vs web hosting||Blog post||Somewhat transactional|
|Explore||User wants to expand their knowledge on a topic||VPS hosting advantages and disadvantages||Case Study or white paper||Slightly transactional|
|Learn||User is looking for general information on a topic.||what is VPS hosting||Hub page||Not transactional|
Nailing down the search intent for your SEO campaign is especially important for enterprises: addressing multiple goals (as defined in Section 1) means having a thorough understanding of the keywords used to reach those goals.
For example, let’s say the VPS hosting enterprise is concerned about the growth of their biggest competitor and has chosen Overcoming Competition as its primary goal. They will need to prioritize keywords that target users who are currently evaluating different VPS hosting providers. These may include:
- top vps hosting providers
- vps hosting cost comparison
- vps hosting features
Nailing search intent allows you to better connect with your audience and address their needs directly. This leads to lower bounce rates, higher time-on-site, and ultimately, improved search rankings for your website.
Build the Team that will Create Your Thought Leadership Content
Now that we’ve discussed creating an enterprise SEO strategy, the rest of this guide can be devoted to execution. That starts with content, more specifically thought leadership.
Thought leadership is the ideal approach for enterprise SEO because of its emphasis on educational content that helps readers answer questions and solve problems. It differs heavily from sales oriented content that focuses on pushing a product; thought leadership enhances the reputation of the writer and company while building trust with the audience.
This model is useful for SEO because that trust goes a long way; think about your local hardware store owner who has been there for 30 years and has never steered you wrong on a home project that you’ve been working on or a tool that you’re looking for. You’ve come to appreciate that this company doesn’t try to sell you anything; rather, they focus on your needs and help you solve your problems. As a result, you shop there all the time.
Thought leadership content focuses on a similar model; building trust with informational material to drive sales organically rather than pushing a product. Creating this material, however, is not an easy task; it requires clear understanding of your audience’s pain points and extensive research into solutions to meet those pain points. Without substantial, meaningful content, there is no thought leadership in an article.
Because of the difficulty inherent in creating substantive content, it’s often the case that an effective SEO strategy involves the use of multiple team members, including but not limited to:
- Writer: Subject matter expert in charge of creating content geared towards a selected search intent.
- Editor: Proofreader who curates written content to be factual, skimmable, and in line with the company’s brand.
- Campaign Strategist: SEO researcher in charge of selecting keywords, identifying search intent, & charting the course of the SEO campaign.
- Campaign Manager: Team executive responsible for managing all members and relaying campaign progress to the rest of the company
Each of these members (and others, in the case of larger teams) share responsibilities in the creation of excellent thought leadership content. Dividing these responsibilities amongst a team of capable members makes it easier to produce you. This is especially true when considering the rigorous schedule within which content needs to be published.
Publish at least twice weekly
In addition to publishing the best possible content, one of the keys to achieving high Google search rankings is a consistent publishing schedule. We recommend at least two pieces of content per week for one year. This combination of quality and volume essentially builds a partnership with Google, whereby they agree to promote your pages in their search engine. Attaining this partnership is sometimes referred to as the news website bonus.
Maintaining an editorial calendar throughout your campaign will keep your content organized. It allows team members to plan out which pieces are being developed and for what purpose, providing descriptions, target audiences, search intent, keywords, and even content-type according to each piece.
Below is an example of our own agency’s editorial calendar:
The work involved with creating and managing an editorial calendar is formidable, but the results are worth the effort. Our research has shown that companies that publish at least two times a week for a duration of at least six months naturally generate organic traffic which otherwise is not displayed on an Enterprises website. In addition, the news website bonus also increases the likelihood that your company’s article will appear on the first page of Google search engine results.
Measure and Iterate
A good enterprise SEO campaign is determined by effectively identifying goals, keywords, and search intents; and keeping an orderly editorial calendar. A great enterprise SEO campaign is marked by the ability to identify when one or several of these features are not working as designed and changing accordingly.
To know when you need to make a change, you’ll need to determine hard metrics designed to give you an accurate idea of how effective your campaign is at
- Identifying goals, keywords, and search intents
- Creating content that supports those goals, keywords, and search intents
- Publishing regularly
- Bringing visitors to the website
- Driving visitors to other pages on your website
To measure these features, a strong data analytics program is absolutely essential for your website. Without the ability to effectively measure clicks, views, and other forms of Engagement, your team will be unable to measure how effective the SEO campaign is. We recommend using the following metrics, available via most website providers.
|# of blog visits||~10k per month + 5% month-over-month increases||Expand search intent, refine keyword strategy|
|Organic Traffic||70% of total traffic, 16% conversion to new leads||Expand search intent, refine keyword strategy|
|Average Views Per Post||10% increase, increasing another 15% over the course of a year”||Refine thought leadership content to better meet search intent|
|Search Engine Ranking Position||Main blog ranks top 3 for 5+ transactional keywords||Increase publishing schedule|
|Conversion Rates||More than 10 conversions per month, at a conversion rate of >3%||Revisit campaign goals|
|Social Media Engagement||3+ comments per post, over 50% positive; 3+ weekly shares||Reformat campaign content for better social media visibility|
|Returning Visitors||18% returning visitors, with 16% of the return traffic converting||Refine search intent and improve content|
|Average inbound links per post||2+ per month, with 40% from authoritative sites||Improve content; focus on informational tables and data.|
Having a strong idea of these metrics and whether they are succeeding or failing gives SEO teams a solid idea of when they need to pivot or adjust the campaign they’ve created. On the other hand, it can also illuminate previously unforeseen or unexpected markets that they unintentionally targeted, opening up new areas of possibility.
Implementing Enterprise SEO
Although this enterprise SEO guide focuses on the components of an effective enterprise SEO strategy, results tend to come more slowly than other marketing campaigns. We advise clients that results become visible after around 6 months of consistent publishing. Even after this period, an SEO campaign will see its highest returns beginning in its second and third year.
Getting it right the first time, so 6 months doesn’t turn into 18 months, is critical. It can make sense to outsource the campaign to an experienced agency while your team learns. Our agency specializes in partnerships with enterprise clients to design SEO strategy, produce content, and monitor results. If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to reach out.