by Bob Sakayama
(updated) 12 December 2014
Responsibility For Search Performance Belongs In-House
Optimizing the search performance of very large systems requires knowledge and skill sets far more robust than the services provided by most seo agencies. A large portion of that knowledge is often unique to the enterprise's competitive edge. So it's logical that for the protection of proprietary information, continuity, plus the need for accountability, large businesses would prefer to keep the primary responsibility in-house.
Consultants Belong On The Team
But the most robust expertise lies with professionals who are exposed on a daily basis to the kinds of problems and solutions that impact many diverse players. This knowledge and experience are the credentials of competent professionals, and it is essential for large organizations to gain access to this information through consultancy. In addition to improving overall performance, proprietary expertise should be used to discover & mitigate issues, lower advertising costs, pre-empt future problems, evaluate competitors, keep up with compliance changes, etc.
Achieve A Working Balance Between In-House & Consultant Expertise
It's obvious that the enterprise is served best with the strongest possible in-house search manager supported by the most robust consultants. But basic seo is not rocket science and there's lots of valuable information online, so it's not uncommon to find a marketing exec who oversees both paid and organic search. Because natural search ranks and successful text ad strategies rely on common elements, like semantics and engagement, oversight by one manager makes sense, especially if there are resources available for outside support.
The other common models: the seo department is either a stand-alone unit, or a team within marketing. For some, including information sites, search responsibility is considered a pr matter. Because many optimization approaches require code solutions, there are also seo units inside development teams. Achieving success in the search requires a manager who can bring all these diverse players, including consultants, together.
Enterprise Level Responsibilities
Beyond the obvious responsibility for overall search performance, the enterprise search professional should be engaged to mitigate risks and act preemptively to address discoverable vulnerabilities. For example, if the site is suspected of being under a negative seo attack, or if it recently recovered from an unnatural links penalty, a monthly link audit is in order until no link growth is detected.
The requirements for search performance are constantly evolving. Post Panda 4, businesses are required to pay attention to new standards. Even though most of these new standards make for better sites, many businesses have not updated their sites in years. This in combination with the fact that large systems rely on automation, can create huge vulnerabilities amplified by the automation. If the site is generating content using simple templates - something many sites used to do to gain a geo advantage - it's very likely that this implementation needs to be revised. Google is able to detect auto generated content unless the number of variables used is increased significantly. But it is likely more valuable to go with content that is 100% original, created by a human.
Periodic audits of large implementations prevent small issues from becoming unmanageable. Enterprise seos know that websites are complicated, organic entities that require constant attention - effective management attempts to anticipate issues. Complacency forces management into a reactive stance where it can be easily overwhelmed by changing events. Because when large systems fail, they can fail big.
So in addition to addressing the search issues currently facing the enterprise, search professionals need to be anticipating future changes to best practices. The fact that Google tightens the compliance requirements with each successive update is a clue as to what's coming. So expect more ramp ups coming from Panda, Penguin and other yet unnamed edicts thrown down by Google, forcing us to comply with its vision of the internet as it moves away from the idealistic relevancy-is-everything model and toward better packaging. It's very clear that content is now only king if it engages. Our challenge is to anticipate updates to the quality/engagement guidelines and make those improvements now.
(original 2010 post)
Maxing Enterprise SEO : Enterprise Optimization Topics
A web footprint is magnified at the enterprise level, especially for the important search considerations. On the positive side, enterprise SEO brings to bear some awesome firepower. You have expansive critical mass, an automated implementation, and resources supported by revenue or investors. You can advance in competitive fields simply by allocating resources effectively across content and link builds, and if you run into trouble, you can buy expertise... Your sites should be dominating!
Achieving high level enterprise SEO is a hugely painstaking effort, because every issue is connected to others, and the number of ducks needed to be lined up can be staggering. And while most enterprise SEOs can push ranks in Google, most are not paying attention to basic search compliance. But you've learned your lesson from that last penalty, and search compliance is now high on the redesign list.
Of course, as a knowledgeable enterprise seo, you've used automation to ensure search compliance. So you know that those guys in marketing will never be able to inadvertently create an issue for the sites - post an accidental redundancy, or create an attribution problem by copying content from one of your other sites, etc. You've got that covered.
And the Italian site is clear to run a translation of the US site, as long as no other Italian version goes live. But what about development going on in the London office? You're aware of these issues faced by a Global enterprise with foreign language sites, and because this is a second English language site, you initiated a compliance review, so all's well.
Still, you keep nervously checking your ranks. Because you know that when the enterprise websites stop performing in the natural search, the heat is not just on, it's white hot, whether it's a Google penalty or just rank loss...
If you've been paying attention, and your enterprise seo program includes some automated compliance checks, you know you can rule out some issues immediately. And if you're really lucky, your automation quickly shows you what is wrong with the search - whether it's the site, the db, the server, or even Google - the problem is known, addressed, fixed...
Any organization propagating multiple sites puts the natural search rank of all at risk if search compliance is not being addressed with a central strategy, early on. Because you have to work at compliance. Enterprise web implementations are complex animals. Not paying attention to compliance oversight encourages invisible, incremental non-compliance, which eventually becomes large scale anarchy as automation and lack of accountability multiply the problem.
This may seem a radical thing to state, but without search compliance oversight, a large organization with many sites is guaranteed to crash and burn in the search. We see the detritus and help pick up the pieces. And it's from that point on that they understand that enterprise seo means first paying strict attention to search compliance. Then you optimize.
The fact is that no one can really be prepared for the disaster that a large scale search issue can bring to bear. But prevention and preemption is something rarely focused on, even though it becomes the #1 issue after the fact. Search compliance is something that needs to be addressed before the rank loss happens.