For large organizations, keeping a close watch on keyword targeting and on-page optimization across an entire site or network of sites is not an easy task.
At the enterprise level, a single site can have millions or tens of millions of pages, and larger organizations such as news publishers may have 20-30 different sites or more.
So, how do you effectively manage all those pages?
The in-house SEO team certainly cannot check every page by hand. An agency can be brought in to do individual page audits but this is costly (and ultimately inefficient) and it creates an outside dependency.
However this type of post-creation monitoring and assessment requires the content producers or SEO team to go back and make revisions. Reworking key page elements cannot be entirely avoided but it is important to reduce the need for it, especially on a large scale.
With all this in mind, here are some tactics for managing and improving the content optimization process for enterprise sites.
Enterprise SEO Training
Training is a fundamental component of enterprise SEO. Go to any in-house or big site SEO session at a conference and training will be repeatedly emphasized (and rightfully so).
When it comes to content production, every person in the organization that touches content in any way should be well versed in editorial SEO best practices.
A well-trained staff takes much of the heavy lifting off of the SEO team by incorporating proactive optimization practices into their daily workflow. This frees up the SEO team to focus on other issues and ultimately produce greater returns for the organization.
I won’t go into the details of training curriculums here, but keep in mind you’ll need to cover a range of topics and tools. See my post on Editorial SEO Tactics for the Newsroom for more on how publishers approach training.
Also remember that no one truly gets it after just one session (even if they think they do). Institutional training is an ongoing and never-ending process.
Develop An Integrated Content Scoring System
An excellent way to incorporate SEO oversight into pre-production is to build a content scoring system right into your CMS.
Then each time a new piece of content is uploaded all of the key page elements (title tag, URL, headline and subheadings, META description tag, image attributes, etc.) are scored on how well they support the targeted keyword phrase.
The scoring interface should be simple and straightforward. Entering a keyword phrase into the system produces a score for each page element based on a number scale (like 0-10 or 0-100), percentage or letter grade.
Scoring criteria and minimum requirements are established for each page element and ideally the content cannot be published until all the requirements are met (with an override mechanism built in).
I’d like to provide a screenshot of a real example of course, but the built-in systems we’ve been involved with at Define Media Group are proprietary to clients.
However, here is a simple illustration of the concept in action via our own enterprise SEO toolset:
To take it a step further, you can pull keyword research plus search and social trend data directly into to platform to help content producers better select their keyword targets.
Also consider adding in safeguards against keyword cannibalization. When new content is uploaded the system, it could identify already existing content with similar keyword targets to help the staff avoid overlap and further refine their targets.
Other potential CMS add-ins include suggesting related content for internal linking or providing gap analysis by channel or topical area to determine missed content opportunities (based on keyword targets supplied by the user).
But at a basic level, what you are trying to achieve is an automated system that helps the majority of your pages to be relatively well optimized right out of the gate.
This should go without saying, but I want to emphasize the fact that such systems are designed to enhance and improve quality content, not to facilitate any type of mass production of low-value pages as referenced in Eric Enge’s Don’t Fall Into The Made-For-SEO Website Trap.
Your goal is to put useful tools in the hands of well-trained, well-qualified content producers.
Spot Checking & Reporting
This all sounds great, but even the best trained, best equipped (and usually best intentioned, except when they are on deadline) writers still fall short on on-page optimization from time to time.
In the publishing world, this might mean overuse of witty, print-style headlines. In e-commerce, it could mean certain product pages are published with nothing more than generic manufacturer descriptions.
So even with pre-production systems built into the CMS and post-production analysis via enterprise SEO toolsets, large networks still need human oversight.
The best way to achieve this is through editorial spot checking and reporting at regular intervals. This can be done by the SEO team, or better yet give the responsibility to a key editorial contact for each site, section, division, etc.
Monthly spot checking is typically a good approach as that frequency will not feel intrusive. With weekly checks, there is a risk that the staff will start to turn a deaf ear to SEO feedback. The format should be simple and actionable and sent to everyone on the content production team.
The evaluators pick a limited number of new pages (representing a cross-section of content types) and provide feedback on the choice of keyword target and how well the key page elements have been optimized.
In a selection of ten pages including two or three that are well optimized and seven or eight with opportunities for improvement is a good ratio. It is also useful to highlight examples for which there is not a clear, easy answer (such as the best phrase to target).
Providing ongoing feedback with real examples helps to drive home the point that content optimization is both an art and a science. When it comes to practical application of best practices the staff needs to use their best judgment and find the right balance between optimized language and editorial voice.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.