What makes enterprise SEO unique from a general knowledge of SEO?

The complexity.

A larger company has the technical challenges of a complex site architecture to budget for the tools and help it needs to be successful.

I have seen many SEO professionals from consulting or agency environments who have in-depth technical, content and general knowledge of SEO.

What they lack, however, is the ability to work with other teams or understand the complexities that business organizations face.

Without the experience of working in-house in such an environment, any SEO professional will struggle to gain credibility or make any impact – resulting in a stagnant result with no signs of growth.

Here are the top five challenges SEO must face when working in a corporate environment:

  • Complex technical challenges.
  • Get buy-in.
  • Priority for business.
  • Track effectiveness.
  • Budget for tools / help.

When you can navigate through these challenges, the company's support – top to bottom – becomes strong, allowing the overall health of the company's SEO to flourish.

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1. Complex technical challenges for SEO

When it comes to technical SEO for companies, the complexity increases tenfold.

Sites that don't focus on the technical aspects of SEO will often fall short, regardless of how good the content, brand awareness, or link authority are.

If a website has 90% of pages causing redirect chain errors, incorrect or self-canonical items, duplicate titles, JavaScript problems, etc. are less likely to produce results than their competitors who have only 20% (or less) of those problems.

New projects that are started are less likely to gain importance in search results or may be difficult to index.

Larger organizations consist of multiple development teams working on different aspects of a site and often on different platforms.

When you step into a corporate environment, it's good to understand that your first few months are all about learning:

  • How a site is structured.
  • How the engineering teams work.
  • How SEO can play a role.

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By using subdomains / subdirectories, pushing sitemaps.xml files, generating robots.txt, identifying pages that do not need or have index tags, pagination, JavaScript implementation, generating canonical tags , pagination, infinite scrolling, Ajax calls and much more.

All of this can be common knowledge. However, working in the corporate environment with a large site managed by multiple stakeholders and making business decisions that can affect search engine optimization creates a complexity that is challenging to navigate.

When it comes to the complexities of technical SEO in a corporate environment, an SEO needs to be not only knowledgeable, but also willing to listen.

A strong corporate SEO can view data, analyze crawl reports and weblogs, and know who to speak to to understand the history of the work being done for SEO.

Good search engine optimization should be able to make authoritative decisions while maintaining humility as trial and error tests produce the best results.

By focusing 30% of the team effort on technical SEO fixes and reducing additional problems, a corporate website becomes more successful.

2. Receive buy-in

Ask an SEO and they will tell you how obvious it is why companies should invest time and money in SEO.

With a little engineering effort, some tweaking by the content teams, and a small investment in SEO experts, any business could make money with very little effort.

Unfortunately, not all organizations see it that way.

Whether there is a lack of understanding about what SEO is or what is in SEO companies is often not seen as a worthwhile investment.

SEO professionals should know that working for a company doesn't make SEO easier.

Calendars could be filled with meetings all day, but a discussion could take place in a meeting where stakeholders decide that SEO is not important and SEO is not in the room.

They later discover that once a project has started, the company could have benefited greatly from considering SEO.

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The key to buying in SEO is getting an SEO to know as many people as possible in the organization from top to bottom.

Even if it doesn't seem like anyone ever needs or ever works with SEO, it is still good to get to know her and her role.

One of these people could be in a meeting that does not consider SEO if a group decides they don't need SEO. If so, they could speak out in favor of SEO in their absence.

Additionally, whatever success the team for SEO can achieve is always a great way to get an organizational buy-in.

Find some pages or section of the website where some changes could be made to improve search engine optimization and report on the growth achieved.

This will show stakeholders and decision makers that doing some work for SEO can increase traffic and sales.

They will have more respect for SEO as well as the team working on SEO and will want the same for their projects and responsibilities.

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Getting buy-in from key stakeholders to do the job for SEO is one of the biggest problems SEO faces in a larger company.

From the CEO's belief that SEO can increase bottom line results, to engineering teams spending the time making their JavaScript crawlable by Google, SEO pros can spend a lot of time getting involved.

3. Priority for business

I will sometimes refer to SEO as the redheaded stepchild (a term used to describe a person who is neglected, abused, or undesirable) of business.

Many companies know that they can benefit from SEO but don't understand enough about it to make it a priority.

Companies that end up in this void of lack of support or understanding of SEO are having a hard time digging themselves up and therefore benefiting from SEO.

While getting stakeholders into engagement with SEO is also important to push for making SEO a top priority for the entire company.

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By communicating with the company that is making small or even large profits, a team can prioritize SEO and align with the company's plans.

If the company is focused on targeting locations for advertising and creating content for local customers, it is advisable to focus efforts on local SEO strategies.

Business alignment isn't always easy, and not all companies are transparent about communicating what is SEO level priority.

By focusing on getting to know teams and stakeholders within the company, the SEO team could become part of the conversation when having conversations about priorities for the company.

While it is difficult to establish SEO as a priority for the company, the benefits can be astronomical for both the company and the SEO team.

4. Tracking effectiveness

I have worked many times with agencies who report their profits by showing keywords that have climbed up in rankings or pages they have worked on to appear higher in search results.

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The biggest battle that SEO often faces in a large company is reporting. Most companies expect SEO to have an impact on sales.

While rank changes and traffic increases are nice, it all boils down to how much the company makes.

Tracking keywords on sales is virtually impossible.

The calculation can be a complex estimate based on formulas that understands which pages were displayed for which keyword searches. The number of keywords on this page is reduced by percentages of the Google traffic from organic data, which results from the sales of this page.

This formula can't always be used for every business, especially at times when multiple pages are showing up in search results for a keyword.

The best way to track SEO effectiveness is to understand what is important to the business.

Some companies are happy with free signups and may have some revenue value associated with it.

Some companies calculate revenue per user or consider a click of a button or an open email as a value.

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Working with data scientists and understanding the hurdles in reporting for SEO is one of the biggest problems SEO faces in a larger company.

5. Budget for tools / help

One of the biggest problems I've faced in all of my years as SEO and working for many business organizations is finding the support and budget for hiring help (agencies, consultants or employees) and the tools needed for large complex systems receive.

Few agencies have the technical knowledge, experience, and understanding to manage SEO for large companies, and they are not cheap.

Getting budget support for the expert help you need takes a lot of hard work and waste from existing search engine optimization (or SEO).

SEO professionals shouldn't be expected to know everything about all aspects of SEO.

Some are more knowledgeable about the content, others are more tech-savvy.

Some may have a good grasp of the bureaucracy in the organization, but are not strong in terms of content or technology. In this case, hiring a consultant or agency to make the team even stronger would give the company a strong SEO presence.

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The best way to do this is to let the existing team not be afraid to speak up and let their staff know if they are not strong on any aspect of search engine optimization.

Most organizations will respect this and encourage hiring an agency or consultant who specializes in the missing part.

If SEO has made gains from technical fixes and damage control, it makes sense to use an expert or agency that can help create a content roadmap with a growth plan.

The key is to show stakeholders that one aspect of search engine optimization can be successful and that others have the potential for growth. Everyone will benefit in the end.

At the company level, well-known tools such as Moz, DeepCrawl and Keylime Toolbox are not able to cope with the complexity or massiveness of company locations.

For larger companies, tools that are capable of managing complex websites and that have support staff who know what to expect at that level of SEO experts require large budgets.

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Getting budget approval for these tools can often be tricky, but when support comes in and the tools are used, SEO benefits significantly in the long run.

The key is to start small with the more popular tools and focus on a smaller part of a site.

Use the data you found to make some profits while expressing that there are tools out there to help but problems arise due to their limited ability to manage larger websites.

When SEO makes billions of dollars in revenue for a company and the team asks for a tool that makes up a very small fraction of that, the return on investment makes sense.

Summary

The challenges that corporate SEO pros face are definitely unique.

But these are not impossible to overcome.

Understanding that corporate SEO has its own problems and the patience and experience to navigate through them, any SEO in a larger organization can have a successful career and will benefit the company in the long run.

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Selected image source: Paulo Bobita

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