The Enterprise Level SEO and SEM Issues panel included a great roundup of search marketing expertise with Andrew Gerhart, Scott Polk, Tanya Vaughan and moderation duties handled by none other than Bruce Clay.
First up was Andrew Gerhart, VP of Search for Source Interlink Enthusiast Media who asked, “Are SEO Technicques different for enterprise SEO?”, and then went on to list similarities and differences along with common problems and solutions.
- SEO basics
- Content focus
- Link popularity
- Impact of basics
- Internal link structure
When building and optimizing a big site, it’s important to define and optimize the site structure. Think about all the ways a user wants it broken down. Design the structure to be more horizontal and avoid silos in preference of themed pyramid structures.
Define and optimize the link structure with multiple links to every page, cross-link related content, deep link into important content and use a HTML sitmap(s) to make it easier for crawlers to find content.
It’s also important to define and optimize the URL structure by eliminating session variables query strings, re-writing URLs when necessary, keeping URLs as as short as possible and thinking long term.
The sheer complexity of large scale optimization brings an inherent number of problems that are consistent with enterprise level search engine optimization projects. Going after the most common issues can be the low hanging fruit for webmasters and SEOs challenged with large scale SEO. To that end, Gerhart listed the following common problems and solutions
- Problem -Content overlap over many pages
- Solution – Target keyword variations and use subdomains
- Problem – Mmillions of pages make crawling difficult and deep, deep pages
- Solution -Improve link structure. As an example, Gerhart shows a diagram of “bad structure” with a home page linking deep down two legs and a picture of “good structure” where the home page links to a larger number of top level categories, not unlike a company organizational chart.
- Problem – Interlinking pages is difficult due to the size and dynamic nature.
- Solution -Setup dynamic keyword linking
- Problem -Short page life
- Solution – Archive content and products
- Problem -Too little time and resources to focus on all pages
- Solution – Atomate as much as possible. ie optimize the platform (template level optimization).
- Problem -SEO isn’t given priority.
- Solution -Tie the effect of seo to potential revenue gains.
General tips on enterprise SEO included:
- Don’t compromise too much with the IT department
- Cross promote using other company owned web sites
- Don’t ever stop expanding your SEO effort
- Enforcement is critical. You become the SEO poilice officers
- Track revenue
Next up is Scott Polk from Edmunds.com, a large site with 7 million pages indexed. Polk also discussed common SEO issues with large sites. In order to make time for the Q/A, he made his presentation pretty brief.
Evangelism is key.Departments must be trained on the value of SEO. What is it, what are the effects? Training is customized for departments. Duplicate content is another issue that needs to be addressed.
- Domain Tools
- SEO Toolset (Bruce Clay)
Last up is Tanya Vaughan, the Global SEO Program Manager for HP. [Here is a short video interview with Tanya after the session]
The Challenge: ie Why you don’t want Tanya’s job.
Vaughan started by showing the complex array of internal content sources, content categories and stakeholders that influence what goes into the HP web site.
What is involved with Global SEO Management at HP:
- Set a global strategy
- Include a SEO section in the style guide and build SEO into design guidelines.
- Engineers interfaces: Goolge Webmaster Central, Yahoo
- Robots txt
- Architecture SEO
- Top level page SEO
- Strategic keywords and governance
- Link building – collaborative effort with linking, sharing which keywords are focused on.
Vaughan emphasized the importance of SEO at a company wide level.
One deployment example presented was the centralized social tagging widget that invites readers of content at HP to bookmark and share pages. This tactic has been successful at passively generating thousands of links from the millions of pages on the HP site.
With Google Webmaster Central there is a new feature set that allows a geographic target to be designated. A possible issue for enterprise web sites is targeting countries on hundreds of subdomains.
With Yahoo Site Explorer, there’s a new dynamic URL rewrite tool that can help reduce the appearance of duplicate content and consolidate link popularity. The issue for enterprise web sites and this tool is that they currently have to authenticate each sub domain.
- Subdomains and DNS – Certian business units have become accustomed to using user friendly but not search friendly sub domains.
- Redirects – Understanding and education on how to manage different scenarios
- Load balancing
- A/B testing
- Page/site moves
- Marketing friendly URLs
- Tracking URLs
- Integration and coordination with paid search campaigns and on-site search
- International indexation issues
Benefits of Managing SEO for an enterprise sized web site (Why Tanya’s job isn’t so bad after all):
- Global responsibility
- Consultant to upper management
- Self directed – nobody tells you how to do your job because no one else has a clue
- Networking and professional credibility
- Responsiveness from agencies and vendors
- Budget enables quality agency support
- Visibility in industry