Lee Odden

Pubcon X Big Site – Big Brand – Big SEO

This session was moderated by Stephanie Leffler of Monster eCommerce and included: Marshall D. Simmonds, Jeremy Sanchez, Chris Zaharias, Bill Wise

First up Marshall Simmonds from NY Times (About.com) who talked (very fast) about the complexities of search engine optimization for large publishers.

His employer, the NY Times also hosts several other publications adding to the size and complexity of their SEO initiative.

With the NY Times, he wanted to make it focused, but the NY Times ego created unrealistic expectations. As with many prominent companies, they equated their reputation in the offline world with justification for ranking well online.

Issues contributing to the complexity of big site SEO included: large amount of content, writers not familiar with web writing. rigid CMS and others.

One of the first steps was to “sell search” to NY Times staff and execs which included:

Give easy to see examples

– Create buy-in

– Communication is key: editors, guides, management

– Persistent communication about search through training, newsletters, email, forums

– Unlearning off-line writing styles. “Asia’s deadly wave” no, it’s a Tsunami

Additional steps:

– Research target phrases and markets. Log files, etc.

– Integrate search into the workflow. It must be as common as email.

– Employ consistent reinforcement of search principles

– Implement small changes that make big results. Example: keywords in title tags

Enterprise SEO is not necessarily about placement, but about traffic being generated

– Get buy-in from the bottom up. Optimized from the start.

– Enhancing writing styles

– Repetition on the importance and tactics for SEO is critical

Get checklists in front of people that produce content. Example: title tags, annotate links, keywords in anchor text, h tags

Search is not short term, it is ongoing, long term, it never stops

Get control of content
– Auomate critical fields
– Automation of markup
– style sheets
– Robots

– Establish metrics, trends

– Communicate results

Take Aways
– Use communication: Manage expectations
– Create consistent lines of communication – repeat message, checklists
– Commitment

Next up was Jeremy Sanchez – Global Strategies who works with companies like IBM and Proctor and Gamble.

Big companies are used to being able to scale offline. They are also looking for scale online.

What makes big sites so hard to work with?
– Multiple business units, locations, staff

– Easier to get links
– Brands draw more clicks
– More people to do the work
– Use process to use the system against itself?

Segment a large SEM program
– Brand level programs – Product specific terms
– Group – Category phrases
Search shelf space – gain high rankings with multiple sites on same keyword to displace competitors
– Corporate – Evangelize SEM

5 key focal points of big site SEM:

1, Develop business case
2. SEM education and awareness
3. Remove crawl barriers
4. Optimize page templates to fix multiple pages
5. Leverage your size and brand for links
(press releases)

Typical SEO (arrow down)
Enterprise SEO (arrow up)

1. Get indexed
– Get an index count, compare to actual number of pages
– Remove improper redirects and technical issues

IBM – use product maps to get spiders into site

2. Choose keywords
– Review log files
– Internal site db
– Keyword tools
– List product names and generic equivalents

Companies that do extensive advertising can create their keyword market
– Create associated landing pages

3. Audit and optimize pages
– Develop an audit

4. Implement company wide reporting

– Develop a scorecard for page quality: titles, descriptions, broken links, etc
– scorecards reviewed by senior mgt each month

5. Centralize keyword planning

6. Develop Rule Book – Search Engine Style Guide

Other assets big companies have:
– Encourage partners vendors suppliers to link to you
– link you keyy products off of product./service maps
– Educate PR team on the value of links

Next up was Mike Ford with Did-IT.com

Computer glitch at the podium did not allow the remaining 2 speakers to use their PowerPoint presentations.

Paid search for big companies
Did-IT manages $100m in paid search
5m keywords

Each keyword is a seperate entity. each has its own battle. win/lose.

Last up was Chris Zaharias of Efficient Frontier

PPC – They use algorithms that were used for stock trading to trade keywords.

– Only work with clients that can provide several weeks/months of historical data
– Big paid search advertisers optimize their paid search campaigns to multiple levels of goals
– Big advertisers expect a forecast
– Synchronize editing of overall campaigns – campaign must be managed centrally or be coordinated.

Tags: Pubcon, Big Site SEO, search marketing

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Search Engine Smarts says:

    Pubcon 10 – Big Site SEO

    This post is part of the coverage today and Wednesday of the WebmasterWorld Pubcon 10 search and internet marketing conference being held in Las Vegas. The Big Site SEO session was moderated by Stephanie Leffler of Monster eCommerce and included: Marsh…