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What sets enterprise SEO apart from regular SEO?

Looking up the difference between the two, the main characteristic you’re likely to see highlighted is scale: enterprise SEO is search optimisation for much larger businesses, or companies with a much larger web presence, across thousands of different webpages.

But is that all enterprise SEO is – regular SEO carried out on a grand scale? Well, not exactly.

In a recent webinar in partnership with Econsultancy, ‘5 Common Pitfalls of Enterprise SEO (And How to Avoid Them)’, Markus Klöschen, Solutions Architect at Conductor, highlighted some distinctions between enterprise and non-enterprise SEO that can trip up SEOs, with advice on how to navigate the differences.

What makes SEO ‘enterprise’?

First and foremost, Klöschen emphasised that you don’t need to work at an enterprise organisation to be doing enterprise SEO. “Sometimes you’re in a small to medium-sized company – but still have to run 30 different domains around the world, with 20 different CMS solutions. Sometimes you’re ‘just’ an affiliate running a website with a million pages.

“All of them are situations where you have multiple people working on a website, multiple brands, multiple languages – for me, this is an enterprise SEO situation, because you don’t just update a WordPress and you’re done. There are way more things [to navigate].”

How to build backlinks with enterprise SEO

Enterprise companies tend to accumulate backlinks naturally by virtue of being a well-known brand, but most of these will point to the brand’s homepage, and won’t necessarily centre on the pages or keywords that SEOs are keen to boost in the rankings. However, there are things that enterprise SEOs can do to promote links back to other pages across the site.

Look at the resources that you have: your organisation might be sending out 30 press releases a month, but how many of these include links back to your main web properties (other than a Press or Media page)? Across hundreds or thousands of commercial partners, how many of them are linking back to you (their most relevant partner, of course!) from their website?

And most key of all, across dozens of owned websites, how effectively are you linking to your other web properties? “We have a bunch of owned websites because we have different brands; we have campaign websites; we have a shop; you name it – but we don’t use them for nice, good-looking internal links,” said Klöschen.

Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration

However, getting those links in place isn’t something that SEOs can achieve on their own – they need to work with other teams across the business, communicating the value of SEO and explaining how their department can help to achieve those aims. We’ve explored Klöschen’s tips on how to communicate the value of SEO in an enterprise context in another recent write-up.

“Enterprise SEO is a very communication-driven position,” Klöschen said. “Find the people that might help you in terms of creation of backlinks, and try to help them to create processes on their end that will get the backlinks naturally.”

For example, this might involve helping the partner management team to communicate the need for links to partners, so that the next time a new partnership is put in place, the partner will link back to your web property from the start. Going out to lunch with the marketing team, or ensuring that you sit in on a board meeting with the C-suite, well help you to learn about the goals they have and how you can each help one another.

Elaborating on this in a Q&A after the webinar, Klöschen said that many SEOs who are technically excellent may fall down in an enterprise SEO setting because they struggle with this collaborative aspect. “They’re really good on their computer – they can do technical crawls where you think ‘Woah, they can do this with Screaming Frog?!’ – but sometimes they’re not that strong in communication.

“And if you’re not aware of the personal goal [of other teams], you can’t speak their language.”

One way to make sure that SEO is embedded in the company’s processes from the word ‘go’ can be to incorporate it into the onboarding systems. “Be aware of how people start working in their role – and check how you can influence this system,” advised Klöschen. “Are you able to run a ‘This is SEO’ [session]? It doesn’t have to just be for the marketing team – it can be anybody in the company.

“Show them what their work has to do with SEO – and get something into their onboarding process that covers their chance to do SEO work.”

Preparing for SEO incidents

SEO incidents are never fun, but in an enterprise context they can be extremely damaging. ContentKing, a real-time SEO auditing and monitoring platform owned by Conductor, revealed in their State of SEO Quality Assurance 2021 report that 88% of respondents had experienced at least one moderate-to-high impact SEO incident in the past year. And for 36% of respondents, this incident cost them more than $50,000 in revenue.

These incidents will happen, and so it’s crucial to be prepared: have defined SLAs (service-level agreements) with the development teams for SEO incidents that will determine who to talk to in the event of an incident and ensure that they prioritise a fix. “You need to have this thing ready, and you need to have buy-in from the management,” said Klöschen. “Use their KPIs and their language to get [agreement] to an SLA that will handle SEO incidents.”

Don’t use enterprise SEO to experiment

As an SEO, you’ll no doubt be keeping tabs on the latest trends to emerge into the space, whether that’s a new technology like headless content management systems or generative AI, or a content trend like user-generated content. It may be tempting to try and jump on these bandwagons as they gather popularity out of a fear of missing out on the ‘next big thing’ or not being at the cutting edge.

However, for enterprise SEO, said Klöschen, “Simply don’t! Don’t rush into things.” You can and should play around with any smaller side projects that you have, but it’s a very poor idea to use an enterprise setup for experimentation.

“Enterprise SEO is about creating the needed processes to get the basics right and have some quality assurance while keeping the governance of your sites. … Get your reports right, get the technical setup as good as possible, monitor and audit your sites, and so on.

“Fifty people can change things on your website – you need to ensure that they can’t harm your system, or that you can recognise it pretty early. [If] the standard, basic work of SEO is done; is clear, and stable – then you can focus on magic.”

Get more insights on enterprise SEO from Markus Klöschen by watching the sponsored webinar on demand.