Managing SEO at the enterprise level is a completely different ball game than it is with smaller and more agile organizations. Sure, there is significantly more content to leverage, dedicated marketing departments with tons of resources for online and offline channels, no problem with brand awareness, and the ability to naturally attract links. These likely all sound like positives for someone who’s been doing SEO on a smaller scale and fighting to build up and promote the importance of these exact qualities. However, with these come a lot of moving parts that can create several pitfalls if they aren’t addressed quickly and efficiently.
- SEO isn’t always made a priority. Having recently had a conversation with someone who has experience both in-house and at an agency, I asked him what some of the differences and similarities were. He responded with an interesting similarity: being at an agency you are working to prove your value to potential clients and earn their marketing budgets instead of it going to a competing agency. Meanwhile, when doing SEO in-house you spend a lot of your time essentially doing the same thing except competing against other internal marketing departments for that budget.
- Lack of awareness and understanding. At the enterprise level, especially on global scales, there can be hundreds if not thousands of people responsible for content and various aspects of the website with responsibilities that range from technical and architectural maintenance, content writing and creation, design, social media, press, etc. When there are so many hands in the pot it’s inevitable that there will be conflicts of interest when it comes to what’s good for SEO vs. the overall direction in which the brand wants to go. While it might make perfect sense to completely take down a section of the site and completely rewrite the content to align with a new image, this can be absolutely detrimental to SEO work and progress that has been happening over weeks, months, or even years. With a lack of understanding of the consequences of such changes, they often happen without the SEO person even being told about it but then being left with the urgent question: “Why did our rankings and traffic drop so much?”
- Lack of collaboration due to tunnel vision. As an expansion of the previous issue, everyone at the enterprise level is busy. Always. They each have specific metrics and goals that they must hit each year in order to be deemed successful in their position. These goals and metrics don’t always align cross-departmentally, which can result in things not being done that would help what everyone’s ultimate goal should be – increase revenue or business value for the company. An example of this is when the SEO team knows that there are fundamental issues with the site that are prohibiting it from ranking as well as it could, such as duplicate content. Because they rely directly on the IT department to implement code changes such as redirects, canonical tags, country-specific XML sitemaps, etc., they can potentially be left with their hands tied if the IT department is focused on other projects that are more directly in line with affecting their own specific KPIs. Fortunately at my company we have technical resources in our digital team and share common KPIs.
How Can You Avoid These Pitfalls?
The answer can be summarized in two words: constant communication. This doesn’t mean just sending an email every once in a while. It requires open lines of communication in just about every direction imaginable – with upper and senior management, with marketing departments, IT departments, content writers, branding teams. The list could go on and on. The point is that you must create an environment where SEO is a company-wide adoption where everyone understands its goals and how their individual roles can and do directly influence organic search performance and in turn company performance. This may mean customized training sessions, creating easy-to-understand infographics to show results, newsletters promoting the work you’ve done and the results you’ve achieved. Ultimately, you must be proactive in promoting the value of SEO internally, which can oftentimes feel like a full-time job itself. This creates an additional pitfall to be wary of: figuring out how to have enough time left over to actually get the SEO work done.
What other SEO pitfalls do you find at the enterprise level and what methods do you use to combat them?