Corporate SEO Implementation: From the Inside Out

Preparing an organic SEO (define) plan is a relatively simple process for the average search engine marketer (SEM).

It begins with a detailed keyword analysis to determine how the site performs for targeted search queries. Log files are scrutinized and opportunities revealed. The SEM then completes a competitive analysis and a scheme for content enhancement.

Next, she makes certain the site is designed in a search-engine-friendly manner. Search engine spiders that crawl the Web still grapple with things such as Flash, JavaScript, DHTML, and frames. Database-driven sites are another sticky wicket for spiders.

Once content, code, and the navigational scheme are united into an SEO blueprint, the project is ready for implementation. This is usually where things start to fall apart.

Love and Devotion

Most SEO firms offer varying levels of implementation services to address specific client needs. Some send code in an email attachment; others burn the code onto a CD or toss the details onto a USB (define) memory stick for simplified cutting and pasting. Some firms have admin-level access to the site’s Web servers and upload the coded pages for their technically challenged clients.

Bottom line: The smaller the organization, the more streamlined the SEO implementation; the larger the organization, the more complicated the process.

At a midsize corporation (about 500 employees), an in-house corporate SEM pilots each implementation through to completion. Because larger organizations typically use more complex CMS (define) and site designs, any changes to a site usually involve Web designers and CMS programmers who are part of the corporation’s IT staff.

For CMS changes, objects must be added to or adjusted within the database that drives the site. Permission to change these new fields must be programmed into the schema. Some of the changes also must be incorporated into the site design. These tasks are easy enough, until compounded by the fact the IT staff must maintain 150 different sites for the company, and other non-SEO projects are waiting for their love and devotion. In this size organization, the SEM may be juggling up to 20 different SEO projects at any given time.

Implementation Bugaboos

Cookie-cutting a businesses process is one way for a corporation to avoid choking on inertia. The IT staff must streamline site management systems to efficiently administer to all the corporation’s sites. SEO projects arise. The SEM gets to persuade IT staff why they must make the required changes.

The discussion, usually in the form of a meeting, goes something like this: A lead Web designer says, “But we just redesigned the site last year. Why do we need to do it your way now?”

Or a programmer chimes in, “We just upgraded the CMS system 90 days ago, why do we have to retool it now?”

The SEM responds with something like, “Three months ago, this site wasn’t assigned to me for SEO. Had I been involved in the CMS upgrade [or site redesign”, we could’ve made these search-engine-friendly changes then. Sorry about that. So, when can this be done by?”

Right about then, the room goes silent. Next, the eye rolls begin. Heavy sighs are emitted from the IT group. They say they’ll have to get back with an implementation timeline.

The IT stakeholders head back to their workstations and email their boss about how redoing work is inefficient. The SEM goes back to her workstation and emails her boss an acceptable timeline for the SEO project’s completion.

They’re Only Words

Eventually, the SEM’s boss, who’s usually a senior executive, strikes a compromise on the implementation timeline with the IT chief. Together, the SEM and her boss push the SEO implementation through the IT paces in a reasonable timeframe.

Along the way, the keyword research ages. In a best-case scenario, they’re 90 days into an SEO project before the SEM can change a single word on or behind a page. In a worst-case scenario, it can take six months to change one link on a site’s home page.

These scenarios are further acerbated in a larger organization, as more stakeholders are affected by SEO projects.

The writing team doesn’t take kindly to any activities that change their carefully crafted words, for example, no matter how much keyword research dictates such changes. It takes careful advocacy to gain their approval for the portion of the SEO plan that affects their world.

Then there the brand managers, who require unified messaging across different media. Add to this mix legal oversight, the people who ensure the words and messages comply with regulator guidelines.

Get the picture? They’re only keywords, but they’re very difficult words to change.

The final goal of an organic SEO plan is to achieve prominent placement for the right keywords, rather than trick the search engines into listing irrelevant pages. Incorporating appropriate keywords into a site is pretty straightforward. Making that happen in a large corporation is anything but straightforward.

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