Let's face it: Enterprise SEO is not getting any easier. In this session at Share 14, brands like Adobe, Experian, Marriott International and Microsoft share how they’ve built and scaled their in-house SEO when facing complex challenges.
First up is Dave Lloyd (@davelloyd1) of Adobe Systems. [Be sure to catch Dave's interview on the BrightEdge Blog, here.] He says Adobe.com is the sixth most linked-to domain in the world, with over a million pages on the main website to deal with. With that, comes a lot of responsibility, he says. SEO is the most cost-effective, revenue-driving channel, says Lloyd. To use it effectively requires leverage. Be strategic – we hear that all the time, he says, but from an SEO perspective, it means focus on competitors and what the audience really needs, and focus on business KPIs. Be integrated, and align search best practices with major content marketing goals, Lloyd says.
Next, be comprehensive. Make the job of the search engine easy. And, you don’t have to implement all the Enterprise SEO recommendations, but take steps to reduce risk. Prioritize against effort and impact. He’s going to focus the rest of the talk on one area Adobe had had particular success within: Adobe TV. The business issue: The content underperformed, despite it being unique and having a lot of non-branded terms and thousands of archived videos, plus a lot of updated content…but it just wasn’t being maximized, Lloyd says. What Adobe did was expanded the “marketable universe,” which is content linking opportunities. They also had to deal with content removal happening on Adobe.com. Lloyd also took a step back to talk about SEO practices and what they mean.
Adobe focused on the top layer, and did some very tactical Enterprise SEO. They looked at additional keywords they might want to include and found about 168 new terms, specifically chosen for that body of content. Adobe performed some very basic SEO tactics, like:
- H2, bold keyword
- Meta descriptions
- Non-brand tag clouds
- Internal linking from www.adobe.com to tv.adobe.com (suggested content)
- Migrated to new search-friendly URLs
The results? The team saw keyword rankings improve, 48 percent growth in organic visits, and a 50 percent increase in free subscribers over nine months. Up next, we have Ngia Vang (@NgiaVang) of Experian Consumer Direct. [Side note: Check out Ngia's interview for the Brightedge blog, here.] Experian’s SEO goal was to focus on revenue, and they looked to their SEO agency (Rimm-Kaufman Group) to get a list of to-dos that would move the marker. And, says Vang, they needed executive buy-in and resources. It’s not always easy to secure.
Lots of people leave companies as a result of a lack of buy-in and resources, she says. The first step to accomplishing all of this was to create awareness. The “Ice Bucket Challenge” is a great example of creating awareness. Get started by building relationships. Create and implement processes, and then dig into the human aspect of it all, says Vang. One particular challenge was Experian’s content team was working in silos, Vang says, and they had to make sure SEO belonged in the process.
The Experian SEO team then created a report card, and they reported on how the program was performing over time. This helped the team secure additional resources as needed for the SEO projects. Enterprise SEO grows slowly, but surely, Vang says. Since ramping up SEO in-house, Experian has seen a huge boost in impressions and clicks and from a “one hit wonder” to a relevant, growing program. Parting advice? Integrate, but give people room. Drive motivation and momentum, and focus on the user.
Next is Michael Jozaitis (@mjoza) of Marriott International. A major issue with Marriott International and its SEO was that many hotels were going with different SEO agencies, says Jozaitis, so the online experience was different across the board. Now, they manage about 800 hotels in-house with a team of 30 professionals in their Marriott Digital Services business. Hotels within Marriott International are not required to join the in-house SEO program; the digital team essentially runs as a non-profit and every dollar taken in needs to be reinvested into the program. Marriott Digital Services has very specific goals with its SEO, says Jozaitis: organic visits, booking room nights, and driving revenue for hotels. The Enterprise SEO team knew that social was critical for SEO success, Jozaitis says, but how do you scale that for 800 hotels? Here’s how they tackled it.
Empower the hotel staff:
- Create a strategy/approach for all hotels, tweak as needed
- Train hotels to do the day-to-day
- Give advice on strategy
- Promote best practices
- Keep guides up-to-date, as social changes fast
- Interaction Guides
- Content Calendars
- Wealth of local knowledge
- Bring “concierge” to social
- Inspire content
The takeaways? Jozaitis says the following:
- Start with the goal
- Process is your friend (if you have to push something back a month to get the process right, do it)
- Divide and conquer (don’t think you need to do everything)
- Always be planning
Alex Volk (@alexvolk) of Microsoft is the final presenter. When he first started at Microsoft ten years ago, SEO did not exist within the company. It was about 6.5 years ago that he and Derrick Wheeler founded the practice within the company. The challenges Microsoft faced were overlapping content, inconsistent UX, domains and subdomains, multiple product versions and internal keyword competition, says Volk. How do you get the structure you need with all these challenges? You can’t control everything, he says, so the hybrid model is to find key people within the organization to try to create a bond that fuels SEO strategy.
Here’s how the Enterprise SEO team tackled the challenge:
- Designated an SEO lead
- Defined and reported SEO targets
- Categorized list of keywords
- Prioritized technical opportunities
- Adopted social sharing
- Onboarded staff with BrightEdge’s SEO platform
- Found an agency of choice; Microsoft uses iCrossing
Tactics you can use to support Enterprise SEO strategy include storytelling:
- Fear: Think about examples of things hat have gone wrong that have caused traffic drop historically, Volk says, and take screenshots. Keep it in a booklet, and save it for the moments when someone is about to do something bad, like not having a redirect strategy.
- Opportunity: For example, look at Share of Voice in BrightEdge. Contrast branded with unbranded keyword opportunity, and see where you stand. Use imagery to bring opportunities to life, Volk says.
- Cadence: And, cadence matters, he says. If you’re trying to perform storytelling, think about how to tell your story in multiple formats like email, face-to-face and so on, and know which mix of tactics are effective at your place of business.