Implementing Enterprise SEO: A Six-Step Guide
Over the fifteen years I’ve been helping enterprises implement SEO, I’ve seen marketing departments make every mistake imaginable. Whether it’s a talented team neglecting to write high quality articles, an inconsistent publishing schedule causing the blog to miss out on Google’s news site bonus, or inadequate tracking of results, there are plenty of ways to prevent a site from seeing the fullest expression of SEO results. In this guide, however, I’m going to focus on the positive, sharing all the steps enterprises should follow when implementing SEO strategy.
Start with Strategic Planning
Strategic planning for SEO requires you to establish the campaign’s goals, then choose and evaluate keywords that support each goal. For example, if your goal is to generate qualified leads, then each keyword you target should be a transactional keyword that indicates its searcher is a decision maker who is actively looking for your services.
Once you have your goals and keywords established, you can then rank each individual keyword by importance based on its search volume; determine a potential searcher’s exact intent (are they still researching or are they ready to spend money?); and assign an appropriate page type based on that search intent. Here are some questions you should ask about each keyword:
- Is the keyword highly searched, and therefore, valuable enough to justify committing an entire team’s efforts into the creation of that page?
- Is the keyword transactional—in other words, does the keyword indicate a searcher who is looking for our product?
- What kind of page—and what kind of content—will a searcher expect to find when they click on a search result?
This is also the time to implement a good tracking system. You need a way to know exactly what is and isn’t working. That way, you know what changes to make if you aren’t on track to meet your goals. Once you’ve established your basic strategy, the next step is to make sure that the content you produce is both specific to the keyword and page types you’ve chosen, and actually interesting to a potential customer.
Produce Specific & Interesting Content
One of the most common problems I see on enterprise websites is the use of language that is so broad and safe that it doesn’t communicate much to the end user. For example, I frequently hear that enterprises “provide solutions” to help companies “stay ahead” and “fuel growth.” You probably didn’t learn much from that sentence, and neither will your readers if you use cliches to describe your enterprise’s offerings. As a leader in your field, audiences will expect that your content is thoughtful. Google’s algorithm is also regularly updated to show searchers more useful content. Time on Site is one of these factors, and giving your users interesting, relatable content will make it more likely that they convert.
By the same reasoning, it’s important to tailor each page’s content to the keyword it targets. Consider exactly what someone is looking for when they searched for that keyword, and get creative in producing the best possible response. Doing so can be challenging, especially when you’re producing a lot of landing pages as part of an SEO strategy and writing about the same topics from multiple angles. For example, let’s say you’ve written an article targeting “project management software”. If you want to write an article about “project management systems” in the future, you’ll need a fresh take that fully takes into account the difference between what someone means when they type “software” versus when they type “systems”.
You’ll also need all your content to be targeted to your audience. If your potential customers are experienced engineers, you’ll need to write completely differently than if you need to reach busy executives. The content should be written with the right reading level in mind—as accessible as possible without talking down to your audience—and be comfortable using jargon that your audience will understand. You should also avoid large blocks of text in your writing—use custom graphics and formatting to make your content more readable. This all takes a lot of work, which is why you’ll want to assemble a specialized team.
Assemble a Specialized Team
The key to producing content regularly is the team. Each team member should have a clearly defined role so that they can focus their efforts on the thing they do best. The ideal enterprise SEO team consists of:
- A subject matter expert writer to research and write the content that you’ll be publishing, and who can present similar topics in new and interesting ways.
- A thought leadership editor who will make sure that the writer’s output is free of any grammatical or factual errors, is skimmable and well formatted, and meets the basic requirements of technical SEO.
- An SEO strategist to choose and evaluate keywords, analyze search intent, and assign the right page types for each keyword.
- A graphic designer to create custom charts, tables, and illustrations for your website.
- A web developer to implement tracking systems, optimize your website for speed and mobile friendliness, and handle any unexpected technical problems that might arise.
- An analytics and reporting specialist to analyze traffic numbers, conversion rates, and synthesize raw data into actionable reports.
- A conversion rate optimization specialist to ensure that each page you create promotes conversion and encourages qualified leads to commit to making a purchase.
- A campaign manager to project manage all of the above and can serve as the single point of contact between the SEO team and the rest of the company.
At the enterprise level, I don’t recommend combining roles to try to cut costs. For example, an editor will need to have some background in SEO in order to make sure that content can effectively rank, but assigning them the full strategist responsibilities will result in their focus being split, either performing both jobs suboptimally or missing deadlines, resulting in an inconsistent publishing schedule. That brings me to the next step: Publish Consistently.
Google rewards websites that publish consistently and often. This is what we call the News Website Bonus. Because Google is looking for sites that routinely deliver fresh, relevant content, making sure that you add at least two pieces per week of thought leadership content has a marked effect on your search rankings. Scaling up also has dramatic effects in terms of leads. On average, increasing monthly publication frequency from 3 to 6 blog posts per month results in 1.75x more leads, while increasing from 3 to 11 posts per month results in 3.75x more leads.
The number one reason that most companies fail to publish consistently is that they don’t allocate the necessary resources to their SEO team. Often, this is because they try to use team members in other roles to write or edit content (which I advised against above), and writing blog posts and landing pages is the first thing dropped in favor of working on their core responsibilities. The upside is that if you’ve followed this guide and established a dedicated SEO team, you’re already most of the way to consistent publishing.
The second reason I see blog posts missed is that companies don’t plan for unexpected absences or delays in their publishing schedule. Accounting for this is simple—your writers and editors should create enough content so that you have a comfortable 1–2 week buffer. It’s better to maintain a consistent posting schedule than to post an extra 1-2 times in one week and then miss another week entirely.
By following the previous 4 steps, you’ll have a basic campaign up and running. The next two are all about making the most of the analytics data coming in so that you can make sure your time and effort are well spent.
Measure & Attribute KPIs
Unless measurement is someone’s primary role, it’s easy for the task to be done in a way that merely checks the boxes. As I mentioned earlier, this all begins with clear thinking about your enterprise campaign’s KPIs before it began. When that’s in place, the next piece is a regular reporting schedule that tracks those KPIs. The last piece is evaluating the campaign’s success at certain points in time — say, after 6 months and 1 year.
Here are the most common KPIs we use with enterprise SEO clients:
|KPI||After 6 Months||After 1 Year|
|% Increase in Blog Visits||16%||38%|
|% Increase in Organic traffic||12%||27%|
|% Increase in Unbranded Keywords on Page 1||15%||44%|
|Website-Visitor-to-MQL Conversion Rate*||0.8%||1.1%|
|% Increase in Inbound links||4%||9%|
*MQL = New contact within target audience
Naturally, your KPI measurement must be personalized to your business, and you should use percentages that back into meaningful revenue increases. However, it’s useful to have these benchmarks.
Refine Based on Results
Even after the last step, there’s always something more, mostly in the form of refining based on new learnings as the campaign continues. You should revisit your strategy regularly to make sure you’re getting the results you set out to achieve with your goals. As you see from the KPI benchmarks above, an SEO campaign doesn’t provide massive returns immediately. It takes 4-6 months of consistent content publishing before your site’s rankings, traffic, and MQLs begin rising. In the meantime, you can watch leading indicators like Sitewide Organic Traffic and Time on Page.
Here’s what to do if you don’t hit each of the above KPIs:
- Blog visits or overall organic traffic numbers aren’t rising: Make sure that your page titles and meta descriptions accurately reflect what a visitor is looking for. The short blurb on Google’s results page is your first and only chance to convince a visitor to click.
- Your website struggles to reach the first page of search results for unbranded keywords: Publish more frequently, and match the right page types to the keyword. When users reach a page that isn’t useful to them, they leave immediately which results in a high bounce rate and lowers your rankings.
- Website-visitor-to-MQL conversion rate remains low: Make sure your website’s UX is streamlined. The conversion process should be obvious and easy for your potential leads, with clear calls to action and fast page load times.
- Your website isn’t acquiring inbound links: Focus on creating content that is both useful to your industry and that can’t be found anywhere else. The best way to do this is to write articles that are the product of original research, offering hard data in charts, tables, and other easy-to-digest forms.
Enterprise SEO Strategy Implementation
Implementing enterprise SEO is a daunting task. Each step is intimately linked with the others, but if you do it well, you’ll find your company at the top of search results for each keyword in your industry. Because the process of assembling the ideal team is a heavy investment, I recommend that enterprises first outsource their SEO and content marketing program for 2–3 years so they build up their in-house efforts. The SEO firm will handle the initial technical optimization, tracking implementation, and manage strategy and content production while you train your staff for a smooth transition.
If you’d like to know more about implementing enterprise SEO, contact us. We have more than a decade of experience helping enterprises use SEO in industries ranging from financial services to B2B SaaS.