The SEO landscape is competitive enough for B2B organizations. The last thing they need is internal competition from other business units. But many marketers face this hurdle when implementing an effective enterprise search solution. But to be successful, enterprise level SEO needs to be supported by a governance system based on effective communication.
Why Governance Matters In SEO
Imagine a basketball team where teammates don’t communicate on the floor, or a military campaign that doesn’t have a unified goal that all divisions will support. Each example speaks to the importance of establishing a greater good.
In the same way, an organization that runs multiple SEO campaigns needs each business unit to buy-in to a common goal and communicate with one another.
Sure, each operating unit can and should have their individual goals as they own their own P&L’s, but they also need to have a constant awareness of enterprise goals, and actively participate in helping the organization achieve those goals.
In fact, the enterprise level SEO goals should be the beacons to which all business units set their course. This approach will mitigate internal competition amongst business units in search engines, and as a result, help the organization capture a broader search audience. Ultimately, it will help produce a more efficient and enjoyable customer journey.
The Risks Of Forgoing A Governance System
But is a governance system really necessary for successful enterprise SEO? Ask Steve. He manages SEO efforts for a large insurance entity with four business units. As a whole, his company has about 1000 keywords that are particularly relevant to the business; 20 of them are considered “gold” as they drive the most search volume.
Unfortunately though, each of the four business units is focusing their SEO efforts on that small set of high value keywords. Moreover – as Steve is painfully aware — the business units are not communicating or strategizing with a greater good in mind.
As a result, this situation has adversely affected the organization. Most noticeable is the heightened internal competition it has created in the search engines. That landscape was competitive enough for these gold keywords without the added competition of multiple business units within the organization vying for a top position organically.
In addition, this approach has also produced a less than optimal experience for the consumer. While business units may argue that they are pursuing as much shelf space as possible, their efforts have created search results that are messy and confusing for the searcher with a specific intent. Because of it, Steve’s click through rate is suffering.
On top of that, none of the operating units have even considered the opportunity cost of not targeting the other 980 keywords. Even if the 20 gold keywords represent 500,000 of the one million searches the business nets each month, how much incremental value have they missed by not targeting the other 980 keywords?
5 Tips For Establishing Enterprise SEO Governance
Below are a few tips that an enterprise should consider when formulating a governance solution:
- Determine enterprise goals. Start with the online goals of the business. Why do you even have a website? Within that answer lives your enterprise goals that should be supported by SEO activities of all assets and business units associated with the enterprise.
- Complete keyword research by business unit. Each business unit should complete keyword research as if they are a stand-alone business without a connection to other business units. This will allow each adequate creative space to think about its own goals strategically, and not be hamstrung by thoughts of enterprise goals. Then connect the business unit goals to the enterprise goals, ensuring the connection is clear and direct.If a connection is not obvious, or if there is duplication across business units, consider why this is and make adjustments as necessary. Note: there may be scenarios where a certain keyword or content topic is truly relevant for more than one business unit. If so, consider alternatives such as a dual landing page or keyword derivatives.
- Create a communication framework. Governance doesn’t work without communication. Given that, you’ll need a forum that can handle keyword and other SEO discussions. Consider developing a “Search Committee” with representatives from different business units and functional areas. This builds SEO into the fabric of the organization, and creates a platform for sharing goals, challenges, and strategies. This is a must.
- Report against the right goals. Once each business unit has a strategy that supports its own goals and those of the enterprise, they need to examine the trends around these different goals. In many cases, this will require business units to shift to a wider reporting lens that incorporates enterprise results. If a business unit is being asked to support a common good, the common good needs to be monitored and shared amongst business units, and the business units should report on their contributions.
- Ensure that governance is built to be enforceable. Enterprise SEO is not a “set it and forget it” strategy. You’ll need to create a framework of accountability. In addition, you might want to consider establishing incentives for business unit managers to achieve enterprise level goals.
Enterprise level SEO is plenty challenging on its own, but if it is not supported with a governance system, it will most likely not deliver the maxim value it could. Savvy B2B marketers will work to institute such a program to ensure that the search goals of each business unit are aligned with the overall organization’s objectives.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.