In House: Big SEO

Apr 10, 2007 • 10:17 am | comments (3) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Search Engine Strategies 2007 New York
 

What matters when doing big SEO for big brands or big sites with thousands of products? This session will discuss the problems and solutions that marketers run into when faced with such large issues and the best way to handle them.

Jeffery Rohrs opens the session welcoming everyone to the session. It is a very packed and hot session with this the first session about doing SEO in house. Looks like it will be a very good session.

Bill Hunt the CEO of Global Strategies starts first to talk about SEO for big brands. He begins talking about Enterprise key focus areas for large companies and what has the most success. He recommends integrating SEO best practices into the organization at the right levels. Next, implement internal protocols to minimize unexpected problems. Third, integrate search into the web development and management workflow. Style guides and web rule books are important to help dictate search practices. Style guides tell developers where exactly pixels go and so on. These documents can be very detailed but also very important part of the SEO process. Bill will next discuss proving the concept and discussing any missed opportunity matrix will get management support.

So how do you change management? You need to centralize your efforts for success. He puts up a very useful chart of the ways to integrate all the various parts of a big brand into the search marketing initiates. He gives the example of the management team has never met the web team. They meet and exchange cards and chat up the meeting. They can been in the same building but never interact. He says that you need to get these various groups together. Press release team, TV, advertising all need to be part of the process. In a large organization you need to segment the program and look at the infrastructure of the organization. He says they usually hold a best practices session and invites everyone to come. They look at it a couple ways. One from the brand level, group level, and corporate level. What will appeal to these various groups.

Bill broke the process down and asks where is the organization today. He recommends to have executive do searches in Google to see where they are. Having standards work very well in organization because it gives them something to follow. After you have identified the problems and set standards you need to next implement the SEO program. Finally you need to attack the web analytics and reporting tool framework. Bill says that search is one of the easiest to measure in the organization.

He talks next about site wide algorithm compliance audit. Look at things of link popularity, contextual relevancy. What is happening? He recommend building a template for page level audits by putting these into an excel spreadsheet. Start with the basics and work to more advanced topics. He says working with the big three is a good place to start. These are things such as the title tag, headers, and content. The second part to his recommendation is to integrate SEO into your content supply chain. He provides an example of mapping out the clients content creation work flow. There are many ways to track the content through a wiki, blog, articles, etc.. His company also takes a look at style guides. Monitor the infrastructure is also important in order to look for problems that big arise. Pages ranking for words that don’t make sense is a good idea to look at. He recommends creating a page ranking score card and additionally identifying a missed opportunity matrix. He next puts up a document showing the success for certain keywords. He said they call the slide the no bullshit slide, because it highlights how the site is doing in the rankings.

One important ways to understand the cost of not ranking is to show missed opportunity for not ranking well. What does it cost in PPC when you don’t rank in the organic results.

Marshall Simmons from the New York Times starts saying they work with a lot of specific content and organization. He says there are a lot of challenges dealing with 11 million documents, such as looking at why an email registration wall might not be a good idea, also a paid subscription wall and dealing with journalists, editors and guides. The New York times has a company ego which makes it difficult to change different styles of writing and a lot of effort involved in changing the approach to content and SEO.

He next talks about About.com and the integration with the New York Times. About.com is very serious about search and says there will also be opportunity for growth in traffic. So how does About.com get results? They say organized, there is an on-site SEO program manager. They want to engage the team of marketing, technology, research, editorial, and even sales. The SEO are imbedded strategists. In charge of breaking down the areas that need to be analyzed. Small changes could generate major results, affecting vast majority of pages. He gives an example of moving the NYT registration wall back 5 pageviews. More making templates changes that affected entire sections. Cleaning up code is also important. Global search and replaces to remedy spam problems.

Marshall mentions that education is very a important part of the process. Everyone gets one sheet they can refer too. Do ongoing in-depth training sessions. Perform separate training session for technical staff, design, and editorial. Execute strategy and measure results on an ongoing basis. Funny, he says that metrics saves jobs! You have to track way is going on. You need to set baselines monthly, not weekly in order to no what is going on. If you are a publicly traded company these numbers are beneficial to report to investors and all those involved.

So what can big brands do today? Hire an in-house search specialist or SEO project manager. Establish an internal SEO team. Start looking at where you can make the most money. Use solutions like Omniture, WebTrends, Hitwise, etc.. Monitor spider visits, cozy up to IT and do some logfile analysis. Use those results to manage up. Think about metrics that make sense across the company.

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Comments:

Michael Goldberg

04/10/2007 02:33 pm

Thank you very much, I can use a lot of this article and present it to the company I am In-House for.

Ben Pfeiffer

04/10/2007 03:21 pm

Thanks Michael. Bill Hunt from Global Strategies who was speaking at this session has a really excellent book on this topic if you are interested in learning more of his suggestions. He talks about all the stuff mentioned above in detail.

Gerry Grant

04/14/2007 03:29 am

We have a client that does $2.2 billion per year in sales and another one that is doing $460 million. It is like training dinosaurs to dance while herding cats. Training can help a lot so at least they understand what the goal is. I also try and create a search optimization marketing guidelines book for the various departments to refer to. Figuring out who is in charge is also a big challenge. One problem we have encountered is the management thinking we are done when we get a big increase in sales. It is unfortunate that they don’t know we have just begun. Educating management is critical.

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