All web sites, whether large or small, have many of the same search engine optimization challenges. Since the beginning of interactive time, it has been a struggle for many business websites to find their voice and to provide meaningful content to the Internet audience. At Agency.com we see this struggle every day, particularly in an environment where our clients are the ones in charge of creating and managing the text and digital asset contents of large corporate web sites.
The development of content seems like a straightforward thing, but for a large company there are so many stakeholders that inevitably have to read and edit any text that is going to appear on the site. Each of the various departments will need to create or at least vet their sections. Marketing and PR both want to contribute to maintain brand voice. And of course the ever-present legal department must pick through everything with a fine tooth comb.
Anyone who has spent more than a few minutes thinking about SEO certainly has pondered the ways that web content plays for search results. Following are a few challenges that large companies have with the development of relevant content for their websites:
The curse of industry jargon
It seems that the larger the organization, the more likely it is to make up words to describe who they are and what they do. Millions of dollars and countless hours are invested in branding and marketing efforts that result in the creation of product names, slogans and taglines that have nothing to do with the search terms that potential customers use through their favorite search engines. Engineers-turned-marketers use technical speak when they write product descriptions. These conventions gain momentum and a life of their own, and it is a constant challenge for the optimizer to help the organization to get its lexicon relevant to the search behavior of potential customers.
Who is responsible for developing content?
A simple question, but in large companies with lean marketing departments it can be a real challenge to create the right web content necessary for the success of the venture. Responsibility can range from a few individuals at corporate to hundreds of people in the field, each responsible for their own neck of the woods. And who in the world is going to keep the thing up to date? Whenever possible, we create content development guidelines that help the individuals tasked with this challenge to properly create page titles, meta descriptions and of course the text that is going to end up on the page.
Having the same content on multiple URLs is certainly a detriment to the ability of a site to gain and keep top placement in search results. So many factors can come together for the large company to cause duplicate content. Content management systems can create multiple URLs or session IDs that confuse the search engines into thinking that there are multiple copies of your pages. Load balancing, bad analytics tracking mechanisms and improper domain redirecting all will create duplicate pages ore even copies of the entire site. Avoid duplicate content at all cost!
If creating content in one language is a challenge, how about in fifteen languages? In order for optimization to work in multiple countries, text must be at least translated, and at best created in the language of the country in which it will be consumed. Over the long run, all stakeholders must do their part and create content.
Digital assets and non-text content
If creating appropriate text is a challenge for the large company, perhaps one of their advantages is that they tend to create lots of videos, podcasts, rich media and other digital assets that support their marketing and communications goals. Investing in these assets is straightforward, but deploying them in such a way as to attract and keep good links is another thing entirely. Instead of building a microsite with a finite lifespan, be sure to deploy this content on the actual website so that any links it attracts will point to the place where the marketing proposition lives as well.
Before it was a place to make friends or watch TV or sell your used furniture, the web was all about providing meaningful relevant content to people sharing a common interest. It is easy for big site marketers to lose sight of that fact, and it is up to search engine optimizers to help them recall why it is so important to redouble the commitment to high quality, useful web content.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.