At C3, digital marketers were excited to experience all things “enterprise,” whether that was the Enterprise space shuttle during the conference’s bash at the Air and Space Museum, or learning about a more daily, down-to-earth kind of enterprise. Their roles as enterprise SEOs, that is.
Doing SEO for large companies carries its own set of struggles that can keep your efforts on the launch pad. Luckily for those of us at C3, we had a chance to learn some great insights into enterprise SEO success from Condé Nast’s Vice President of SEO (and annual C3 favorite) John Shehata.
Here are three themes gathered from the 21 tactics John shared with us to help make your enterprise SEO efforts out-of-this-world:
1. Know Your S**t (Like Excel, Your CMS, and Your Analytics)
SEO takes work. Doing good work takes skills. As John put it, “You have to develop technical skills. It’s a must.”
You should be pushing yourself to learn more about your trade, the tools you use to do it, and the metrics you use to measure success. There’s a lot of SEO technology out there to help—especially at the enterprise level. This means you’ve got a lot to study—but it also means you’ve got the potential to make a big difference. Some areas to consider:
- Are you a master at using your analytics platform and interpreting its insights? You’re paying top-dollar for this. Make sure you’re getting the most from it.
- Can you manipulate raw data with Excel in ways that reveal the Big Picture? Finding methods to clearly communicate what the data means is just as important as getting the data in the first place.
- Do you understand your organization’s CMS (Content Management System) strengths and its limitations? Sit in with your content team to get a better idea of what is possible with your content management system.
That last point is especially important. To successfully communicate SEO recommendations across your organization, you have to “understand the technology within your company.” Building a familiarity with the tools in your enterprise digital marketing stack will help you keep your SEO practice grounded in your stakeholders’ realities.
To successfully communicate SEO recommendations across your organization, you have to “understand the technology within your company.” Building a familiarity with the tools in your enterprise digital marketing stack will help you keep your SEO practice grounded in your stakeholders’ realities.
Take the time and effort to hone your skills. Use some of that professional development budget and take a class. Build the know-how you need to make your SEO efforts pay off in a big way.
2. Build Relationships (without Emails)
The enterprise SEO process has touch points across many different areas of an organization. To keep your process humming like a well-oiled machine, you need to cultivate and maintain relationships with all your stakeholders. They are “the people who make things happen.”
Let’s start by stating the obvious: to have relationships with your stakeholders, you need to meet them. Sometimes, emails don’t cut it. Face-to-face time helps you and your contact on the 12th floor remember you are both human beings—not just another emailer making requests on your time and resources.
Let’s start by stating the obvious: to have relationships with your stakeholders, you need to meet them. Sometimes, emails don’t cut it.
Once you’ve met, make an effort to keep up your relationships and break down silos. This might mean dropping in and catching up or setting up a lunch when you’re onsite at the San Francisco office.
A little good-natured bribery never hurt, either: John talked about his SEO Donut Thursday initiative, which (a) is exactly what it sounds like and (b) drove a lot of traffic…to his department. Keeping up relationships this way can help you stay front of mind with your stakeholders and give you opportunities to keep people in the SEO loop.
Finally, when you have successes that help fulfill executive-level goals, give credit where it’s due.
Let your stakeholders (and their managers) know that they played a crucial role in getting it done for the company. Those kinds of emails have a tendency to CC their way up the organizational ladder to VPs (and higher).
That’s the kind of feedback that makes your stakeholders love working with you. To use John’s words: “You have to make them the hero. It’s very, very important. I’m here to make you win, I’m here to make your job easier. That’s my role as an SEO.”
3. Sell Yourself, and Show Your Value
Okay, so this is a mashup of the first two enterprise SEO takeaways but it’s important to set apart. To continue to snag the resources you know you’ll need to succeed, lean on your knowledge and your relationships to show-off what your SEO efforts have done for the company.
Make sure you’re communicating your performance to an audience that matters. “Promote your work,” says John, and “spread the word out.” You’ve got to be that SEO evangelist who continually shows the value SEO brings to your organization and to each of your stakeholder’s departments.
You’ve got to be that SEO evangelist who continually shows the value SEO brings to your organization and to each of your stakeholder’s departments.
How can you be sure your audience understands the value of your work? Leverage those relationships you’ve built, and educate your colleagues.
“You cannot do everything everywhere, you need to find someone in every different department who will become the first line of defense for SEO.” John calls these people “SEO ambassadors,” and they can be powerful resources to communicating your efforts:
Bonus: Follow the Enterprise SEO Roadmap
During his session, John also provided an SEO roadmap to help plan out and execute your enterprise SEO endeavors.
Check out his slide deck to see all the takeaways included above and see the whole roadmap. Here’s a selection SEO golden nuggets to pique your interest:
- Organize your optimization efforts
- Start with site-level work (duplicate content, 301/302 redirects, link building)
- Then optimize your templates (On page factors, meta descriptions, pagination)
- Finish with page optimization for your most high-impact pages
- Grab the low-hanging fruit. Identify your second page rankings and optimize to get them first-page visibility.
- Tell a story with your reports. Make sure you identify leading indicators and lagging metrics to show where you are going and where you have been.