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November 11, 2008

Discover Techniques Used by Enterprise-Level SEOs/SEMs

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Last session of day one! YAY! Joe Laratro is moderating the SIXTH session that I’m blogging today. Our panelists are Marshall D. Simmonds, Chief Search Strategist, New York Times, on the web; Bill Hunt, Search Effectiveness Team Lead, IBM.com, Global Strategies; Ash Nallawalla, Traffic Manager, Yellow Online, Sensis Pty Ltd; and Scott Polk, Senior SEO Analyst, Bruce Clay, Inc. (formerly of Edmunds.com which is how he got this gig). Scott is absolutely coming in for abuse during this recap. I mock because… well, because I can, honestly.

Marshall Simmonds is our first speaker. NYT has a great many properties that they oversee. He’s not going to bother to talk about all the basic stuff that everyone knows.

You can’t tell a journalist that you’re going to write content or that he needs to write content differently. There’s a defensive wall there. You have to establish your knowledge and expertise first. Understand the topic, department and division. Ask/answer the questions that they should ask. Explain experiences with metrics and dollars. Be ready to support the plan and for pushback. Find quick wins, leverage relationships and get buy-in.

If you want to see how they do SEO on NYTimes.com, look at the movie section. That’s where they first got buy-in.

The first thing they had to do was get the template optimized. They pushed back first and then pulled down the registration walls. They exposed the archives back to 1851. They have monthly network-wide communications, giving each segment what they need to know the most, exposing the quick wins and showing weak points. They’re constantly training on SEO basics.

NYT has seen a 223 percent growth since 2006.

Hearst Corporation is different. They focus on audits and reassessments and offer checklists to push SEO progress. They hold technical troubleshooting and teaching workshops for writers, editors, producers. They work on training for evangelism.

For the Toys R Us site, it was about giving the appropriate people control of key on-page elements.

With TV Guide, back when Heroes was actually cool, they were able to promote tie-in products to their specific audience. [Hee, Heroes bashing]

And more and more…

Mistakes to avoid:

  • Walling off content
  • Under-communicating success
  • Not checking in with IT/Production/Design/Ad Sales departments
  • Meta Keywords tag — it’s the biggest point of misinformation. Everyone thinks they can solve the problem with Meta tags. Make sure you’re training on basics.
  • Implementing the changes
  • Excessive expectations: timeframes, growth — SEO is long term. It’s not a project, it’s a process. They do it year over year.
  • Lack of editorial oversight
  • Underestimating raising awareness around search

The search “life cycle” is always changing within a company. Careful tracking is always your ally.

Bill Hunt steps up to the podium.

Identify and prioritize recommendations

  • What’s the issue?
  • What are the recommendations?
  • What’s the search impact?
  • What’s the resource impact?

Monitor page level performance

If it’s a tier-one word, it needs to be in the top four positions. List them out by need level, to give you priority.

Leverage your interconnected network

  • Leverage enormous power to build link equity.
  • Leverage partners and distributed content to increase link equity.

Integrated Keyword Performance Modeling

  • What keywords are really converting in paid and organic?
  • What are “low-hanging fruit” that can be optimized?
  • What is the cannibalization effect of paid and organic?
  • What are the business rules that trigger budget shifts?

Final Thoughts

  • Feed the need for information and create compelling information consumers will pull and interact with on demand.
  • Workflow integration is the key to success at the enterprise level. Get in front of the people who can change the stream.
  • Close the awareness loop with search by monitoring increased demand for new keywords.
  • Plan for and take advantage of the increased demand at search engines generated by offline. Don’t fight the “who gets credit battle” — one sets them up, one knocks them down. Work together.

Scott Polk is next. Hi, Scott.

SEO-Friendly CMS

Customization is key. You want to be able to control every element on page and with architecture.

How do you get SEO into the process? Become part of the process, requirements gathering/documentations, project life cycle, SEO QA, etc.

Internal SEO evangelism is never ending and very important.

[Why did I never notice before that Scott mumbles? Quickly?]

The best way to develop relationships is with beer. Food works, too, but mostly alcohol. [Facepalms.]

Get external support and validation. Use experts to prove your expertise.

Ash Nallawalla wraps things up. The site he works on has over two million pages, which is big for Australia.

What’s different for big sites?

  • Millions of pages and a handful of key terms
  • Greater emphasis on site architecture
  • Changes can be slow to implement and costly
  • Many stakeholders to be consulted
  • Easier to get unsolicited links
  • Web platforms are usually not search engine friendly
  • Site design practices aren’t SEF
  • Language on Web sites is “marketese”, not user speak. Duplicate content abounds.
  • Not enough words on Web pages
  • Islands of information (Web sites) spread out the business
  • Trademark/copyright statement discourage linking by others

Where should an SEO be in a large organization? Ash thinks they should answer directly to the CMO. They shouldn’t be in IT.

Like the other speakers, Ash emphasizes how important educating the stakeholders is.

[Here my headache turned migraine-painful. I begged Kate Morris to take over. What's below? That's all her. I love her. Hee.]

I’m supposed to be liveblogging for Susan. Dude is concluding with a checklist. The man is almost done talking — that’s good. Something about an external SEO company. Who needs one of those?? Sending them to training? Can’t they read?

…Oops! Missing stuff.

Need a linking budget… Man I don’t know how Susan does this. Crazy woman. Need paid links? Did I hear him say use paid links?!?!?!

[Thanks, Kate! What an entertaining conclusion to our first day of PubCon liveblogging frenzy! If you see Susan, tell her to take it easy. She's got to last for two more days! --Virginia]





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