Big Brands Talk Search: Disney, Vistaprint & Autodesk’s 2016 Approach to SEO #SMX
Adria Kyne, Jeff Preston and Sharon Conner are SEOs with unique perspectives — they oversee search engine optimization for major companies (Vistaprint, Disney and Autodesk, respectively). In a roundtable discussion moderated by Chris Sherman, these three SEO savants answered questions from the SMX West 2016 audience.
Read on to discover what these major brands have to say when asked questions including:
- Brands face unique challenges – what are some of the largest challenges you faces as a brand?
- How do you balance organic and paid?
- As global brands, what SEO issues come up?
- How do you optimize for mobile and web separately?
- What KPIs are your product owners looking for?
- How well do you think you’ve done with getting people in your company to understand SEO?
- Name your top three tools that are absolutely vital
- Do you use an SEO agency?
- What’s the most impactful change you’ve made in the last six months?
- How do you mitigate negative SEO?
SMX: Brands face unique challenges – what are some of the largest challenges you faces as a brand?
Adria Kyne (Vistaprint): First of all, obviously when you’re a big brand you have a big target painted on you. We constantly face people bidding on our brand terms. Vistaprint is pretty well known for business cards, but we sell other things. So trying to get our other products out there is another challenge
Jeff Preston (Disney): When we see our intellectual property in the SERP, we need to determine if it’s a site run by an eleven-year-old fan? We want to support the fan, but we want to make sure we deal someone maliciously stealing content. So we have to identify who is who.
SMX: How do you balance organic and paid?
Sharon Conner (Autodesk): We recently grew our SEO team from three to six people and pulled our paid team in house. We all roll up under the same group and that’s great. We work on having more meetings and communicating better across teams. If the PPC team is running a campaign on a product we don’t have a page up for, we’ll go and immediately ask for their keywords and get some pages up. We work together.
Vistaprint: Our SEO and PPC teams work very closely together and this is no accident. We collaborate and strive to create great holistic results. Every year we have a search summit where we all come together and educate each other. We also create a joint newsletter for the search teams, as well.
Disney: Let’s say you’re the Snapchat team — they probably don’t care about organic search. So when I need something from another team, I always try to approach it with the mentality of “what’s in it for them.”
SMX: As global brands, what SEO issues come up?
Disney: We have a lot of sites across the world a lot of Robots.txt files — it might take a lot of time before we see an issue with something like that. So we’ve set up alerts to let us know if anyone in the world changes something critical like a Robots.txt file, for example.
Vistaprint: Our content is very localized and our products are different from country to country, but the site is built on template. That means we’re able to manage things centrally. I can’t make a major to the U.S. site without it impacting all the other sites around the world. It makes things safer from a management perspective, but there are cons to this approach, too, like the inability to really localize things for some sites.
Autodesk: We use in-house team members that speak particular languages or local agencies to help us with localization across our 32 sites around the world.
SMX: How do you optimize for mobile and web separately?
Vistaprint: We really do need to have a more integrated, powerful solution for people to interact with our site on mobile and I’m pretty sure it’s eventually going to be an app. They come to our site to build a product, and customizing something on an app is a very different experience than doing so on desktop. We need to make all of those pieces fit together. We have to then, also, communicate to the users — who are not designers — that they can do those things.
We’re not fully responsive yet – we’re working toward it. But we see a lot of desktop traffic.
SMX: What KPIs are your product owners looking for?
Disney: We have a big audience, including an audience on Instagram. How can we add up all those numbers? Each audience has a specific goal, but we like to have an overall view that we can share with stakeholders.
SMX: How well do you think you’ve done with getting people in your company to understand SEO?
Vistaprint: We’re doing a lot of outreach within the company, like the newsletter I mentioned earlier. We want to stay top of mind and keep people excited. We don’t want them get involved in the nitty-gritty, necessarily, but we want them to remember us.
SMX: Name your top three tools that are absolutely vital
Vistaprint: Tableau, DeepCrawl, internal tools.
Autodesk: SEMRush, Excel, BrightEdge.
SMX: Do you use an SEO agency?
Autodesk: We have our own SEO agency that we use. I love having one. If I need to bounce a question off them, it’s great. I try to make sure we leverage their experience with other clients.
Vistaprint: We do everything in house. In the past, we’ve used external agencies but what we’ve found is that our products are complex enough that it makes sense that our in-house people work on our strategies.
Disney: I prefer to spend my budget on hiring more in-house people. They seem to have more investment in our SEO, though external agencies are really helpful in major projects like a migration, for example. Then we can say, hey, what did we miss? What about this? It’s good to have fresh insights on big projects.
SMX: What’s the most impactful change you’ve made in the last six months?
Disney: Internationally, we’re rolling out hreflang and it’s been great. I started slow because I was nervous about breaking things, but it’s been good.
SMX: How do you mitigate negative SEO?
Vistaprint: Ratings and reviews have been very helpful. Having a place for people to leave their feedback directly to us allows us more control over the conversation.
Autodesk: Sponsorships. A company I used to work for always sponsored major events, and were included in the news coverage of those events. Those news and Pr stories always pushed anything negative down.
Disney: I regularly look at what bad links are pointing at us. I have tools in place to monitor them, and then I disavow them.