Enterprise SEO is not for the faint of heart.
Large websites tend to have thousands upon thousands of pages; some of which haven’t been touched since the heyday of Geocities!
It takes thorough analysis, the ability to form a winning strategy, and carefully crafted campaigns.
The entire process could appear overwhelming to those who are new to working with large companies.
What are you actually going to do once you land a client like that?
This article will cover the A-Zs of enterprise SEO.
Enterprise SEO in 2019 and Beyond
There are hundreds of articles that go into different methods for ranking enterprise clients.
The problem is that SEO is an ever-evolving industry; a lot could happen in a year!
Gargantuan authority sites that have been dominating the SERPs could disappear overnight…
Large corporations could execute a content plan that wipes out smaller competitors…
Not to mention that Google could change its core algorithm, resulting in massive volatility in the rankings.
Just look at what happened to Mercola (a controversial health website) in June. They lost an insane amount of traffic and more reputable websites took their place in the rankings.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, it helps to point out some trends.
What techniques may no longer work?
What changes will become increasingly more important in the future?
Let’s find out!
Expertise. Authoritativeness. Trustworthiness.
Google employs roughly 10,000 people who view search results and rate each site by answering a variety of questions about them. This data is then used to train their algorithms.
In 2019 and beyond, being perceived as a reputable source of information is more important than ever.
And this is great news for you! Working with a large, established company is going to put you at an advantage over smaller websites.
Google has a second acronym that defines a specific group of industries. It is YMYL: “Your money or your life”.
The acronym became popular after the Google Medic Update. Many small, unreputable health sites, as well as sketchy investing/finance sites, were hit hard.
All of this is an important effort by Google to prevent exposing users to information that could severely harm their life.
EAT is nowhere as prevalent as in those particular YMYL industries.
Still, it’s crucial to manage your reputation. As mentioned in Marie Hayne’s 2018 Brighton SEO presentation, Google will additionally take into account poor ratings on popular review websites.
Higher Standard of Quality
For many years, big companies got by with bite-sized (short) blog posts, written cheaply and in vast quantity.
Leaning on their established trust and authority, they were able to get a boatload of search traffic for not a whole lot of effort.
However, Google cares more about providing its users with the best and most relevant information.
Despite EAT, a great piece of content from a small blogger could still put up a fight against a mediocre one from a giant.
The Importance of Mobile
As webmasters and SEOs, we’re usually browsing and editing our own websites on desktop computers. However, neglecting attention to your mobile site is a big mistake.
Some time ago, Google rolled out mobile-first indexing. This means that the mobile version of your site is being crawled first when determining your rankings.
This new indexing rule got implemented in early 2018 after Google observed that the majority of searches were made on smartphones and tablets.
Here are the four steps to mobile success:
- Make sure your site is easy to use on smartphones.
- Ensure it passes the Google Mobile Friendliness Test.
- Fix any mobile-related errors that show up in Search Console.
- Optimize the load speed as much as possible. Use tools like PageSpeed Insights and tools.pingdom.com to benchmark.
Suiting Up For Battle
Alright, it’s time to gear up!
There are so many great SEO tools out there today that it’s hard to know exactly what to go with. In this section, we’ll cover some of our favorite tools.
Keyword Research, Metrics, and More: Ahrefs, SEMRush, or Mangools
Most SEO practitioners have a general purpose tool at the ready. Some even pay for some of these tools in order to arm themselves with as much data as possible.
There are three tools in particular that I believe are worth looking into.
- For most people: Ahrefs ($99/m+ or $82/m+ when paid annually )
- An alternative to Ahrefs: SEMRush ($99/m+ or $83/m when paid annually)
- For those on a budget: Mangools ($49/m+ or $29/m+ when paid annually)
Ahrefs & SEMRush
Ahrefs and SEMRush are very similar tools in terms of features. The biggest difference is the data they are able to collect.
Ahrefs crawls 5 billion webpages a day and has over 16 trillion links in their index. This makes it the largest in the industry.
However, you might consider SEMRush due to their more lenient restrictions. As an example, they allow you to tack on additional users for $70/user on their lowest tier when you would have to upgrade to Ahrefs’ $400/m plan to get an extra measly two users.
Mangools is an affordable tool for those that don’t want to pay as high of a price as Ahrefs and SEMRush.
One very important note is that their keyword research tool doesn’t even come close to Ahrefs or SEMRush.
If you search for a term in Mangools, you’re going to get a maximum of 700 keywords.
Now, let’s see what happens when I search for a term inside of Ahrefs…
That’s right. 432,557 keywords. You’re going to be missing an unholy amount of keyword ideas.
Not to mention that, with Mangools, you’re only allowed to search for one keyword at a time—rather than having the option to search in bulk.
If you go the Mangools route for keyword research, it’s recommended to pair it with another tool like UberSuggest or Keywords Everywhere, in order to maximize the number of keyword ideas you are able to generate.
It’s also worth noting that Mangools uses the Adwords API to grab a keyword’s search volume information rather than trying to guess the metric on their own.
Accurate Backlink Checking: Linkody
So, you already have Ahrefs. (Maybe you’re more of a SEMRush kind of person?)
Why would you ever need an additional backlink checking tool when you already have plenty of link analysis features built into your tool of choice?
Especially when handling enterprise SEO-level clients, there are many reasons to prefer Linkody. Let’s go over a few hard-to-resist reasons.
1.) 24/7 Backlink Monitoring + Notifications
No work is required on your part to check for new links.
Whenever a new backlink is detected (or one is removed!) you will receive an email notification.
2.) White-labeled reports that clients love
Clients are going to want to see what results their money is buying. A lot of backlink tools either provide subpar backlink reports, hide important features behind expensive pricing tiers, or don’t provide complete white labeling features.
Linkody exceeds in all of those aspects. Incredible reports that detail your most important metrics can be tailored to your agencies’ branding and exported as a PDF.
3.) Several users under the same account for a more-than-reasonable price.
With Ahrefs, you’re going to have to fork out $400 every month in able to add two more of your co-workers.
With SEMRush, the story isn’t much prettier being that you have to spend $200/m to get an extra user and $400/m to get up to 9.
Linkody is very economical and multi-user-friendly for companies that require such a feature. You can get yourself multiple users for as little as $50/m.
Email Outreach: Buzzstream, Mailshake, Pitchbox, or Ninja Outreach
Having a proper email outreach tool with CRM capabilities is a must for enterprise SEO.
There is an endless stream of such tools out there, but the four most popular tend to be…
- Buzzstream: a link outreach/ digital PR focused tool. It starts at $24/m
- Mailshake: A simple, yet powerful cold-email tool. It starts at $39/m (or $29/m when paid annually)
- Pitchbox: A link building focused tool with a simple user interface. It starts at $49/m.
- Ninja Outreach: An outreach tool intended for all marketers. It starts at $120/m (or $49/m when paid annually).
All of these tools have different selling points based on your needs.
Buzzstream is what most link builders use. It has an incredible feature set for its price. They even have a “Discovery” feature that lets you sort through a large database of bloggers and influencers in order to outreach directly.
Mailshake gained a lot of initial popularity because it was a dead simple tool that, at one point, cost less than a pizza-per-month. They eventually ramped up their features and increased their price. Now they have some useful automation options and a really efficient user interface.
Pitchbox offers a variety of ways to track your efforts and stay sane with your complex cold-email campaigns. In my opinion, it’s worth the extra $10/month you’d save from Mailshake. This is popular among many enterprise SEO experts.
Ninja Outreach is unique in that their selling point is not only the tool itself but also their database of contact details. In their system, they have 67 million social media influencers, almost 20 million email contacts, and 6 million bloggers.
Crawling: Screaming Frog SEO Spider
Screaming Frog is invaluable, especially when you’re working on a website that has a slew of pages.
Critical problems that most on-page SEO testers will miss can be found in a thorough Screaming Frog content audit.
Part 1: Keyword Research for the Enterprise
The General Process
Keyword research generally could be broken down into these three steps:
- Generate Ideas
- Gather Metrics
- Harvest Your Keywords
It all starts with idea generation.
Form a list of seed keywords; these are just general keywords that you want to further explore. Don’t think too much about these. Just put down whatever comes to your head.
If you’ve got a bit of writer’s block coming up with these terms, head on over to an e-commerce store and look at their various products and product categories for ideas.
Here’s an example of the scuba diving industry!
Now it’s time to multiply our ideas.
Input your seed keywords and record/export every result that you find of interest. Don’t pay all that much attention to search volume if it is shown. We’ll further explore that next.
Tip: There are always great keywords to be found in Google’s “Searches related to” section.
Let’s put your new ideas to the test.
You’re going to need a keyword research tool that displays search volume. We’ve covered a variety of tools in the beginning.
It helps to compare data in as many tools as possible. I’ve regularly found keywords that displayed a small search volume but brought in thousands of monthly visitors when I eventually ranked.
Tip: Run ads on your Adwords account. Instead of seeing a broad range in the monthly search volume column, you’ll see a more accurate number.
Harvest Your Keywords
At this point, your best friend is going to be a spreadsheet application like Google Sheets. Pair that bad boy with a plugin like Power Tools and you’re good to go! 👌
The work that has to be done now is filtering out irrelevant or bad keywords and determining how you are going to make use of each one.
When working with your main keyword research spreadsheet, it helps to stay as organized as a librarian with OCD.
I like to have all sorts of custom columns to tag and categorize my data. For example, I like to create a “Sure Thing” column. These are keywords that I am 99% confident that my (or my client’s) website will rank for. This makes it easy for me to easily apply a filter and locate all of the most low-effort-to-rank keywords.
I mentioned Power Tools. You could totally make use of a lot of its features (like removing duplicate data) to save you a lot of time.
Part 2: On-Page SEO for the Enterprise
Determine Fixes With a Thorough Crawl
One of the first things you do when you start working with an enterprise client is to crawl their website.
To do so, you’re going to need to purchase a premium Screaming Frog license. Why not the free version? It has a very limited amount of pages you could crawl, making it less than ideal for an enterprise website.
Your goals of using such a tool include:
- Analyzing the meta titles and descriptions of every page in order to find where you could improve
- Finding broken links (404 errors) or other pages that throw HTTP errors
- Discovering content that SHOULDN’T be indexed
- Finding content that SHOULD be indexed
- Finding outbound-facing links. Do any look suspicious? Should some become no-follow?
- Finding Thin content
- You could even audit all of your images
For Multi-Location Businesses
If the business has multiple physical locations, you’re going to want to create a landing page for each.
- They are great for local keywords
- They are fantastic for lead generation
- Being more targeted than a general landing page, they have higher conversion rates
Take for example Next Street, a US-based driving school. For each of their locations, they create a page that looks just like this:
But it’s not just general location pages that they create. They also have location-based services pages.
- Classes for teen drivers in Fairfield County
- Adult learners permit in New London
- They even have location-based blog posts about tips for going to different DMV locations
In addition to these sorts of pages, you should go ahead and create separate Google My Business listings for each location.
Business as Usual
This just about covers the main differences when performing on-page SEO for enterprise clients.
For an in-depth guide on on-page SEO in general, do take a look at Moz’s On-Page SEO Guide.
Part 3: Link Building for the Enterprise
Secret Sauce: Promote Parent Pages
You’ve found yourself working with a company that has thousands of pages and hundreds of product SKUs. In this kind of situation, it could be an impractical mess to try to promote them all.
The first tactic I would like to mention is building links to parent pages.
Often enough, a parent page means a product category page.
You’ll run into scenarios where you are just left scratching your head. Perhaps all of the competing pages you’re ranking against hardly have any links!
Take this example from State Farm. They have a page about auto insurance for teenagers that ranks on the first page for the massively competitive “teen auto insurance” keyword.
Not all that many links, right? Only 87 unique websites are linking to it.
Here is what their URL structure looks like:
Let’s remove that “car-insurance-for-teens” part of their URL and see how many links the parent page (their landing page about general auto insurance) has.
Ah ha! 1,063.
Building links to parent pages could dramatically help all of the pages that rank under them.
Leverage Your Brand Name to Land Influencer Links & Publications Placements
When working with a big company, their brand name could carry a whole lot of weight.
Instead of collaborating with small-time bloggers, you could go right to the larger publications.
In order to accomplish such a task, you first need to generate a list of publications that talk about your industry.
This can be done using a tool like Ahrefs’ Content Explorer. (It is very similar to Buzzsumo.)
Another option is to use an influencer research tool. Buzzstream and Ninja Outreach has this built in!
Here’s a screenshot of Buzzstream’s nifty ‘Discovery’ feature.
Over to You!
We’ve covered a lot of ground today.
You’ve learned all about…
- The exact tools that industry experts swear by
- How to perform keyword research like a pro
- Mastering your on-page SEO
- Building links: For enterprise SEO
So, over to you! What’s your biggest challenge right now when it comes to enterprise SEO?
Author: Doug Beney
Bio: Doug has been blogging, building authority sites, finding SEO leads and helping clients succeed in the SERPs since 2014.