How to Develop an Enterprise SEO Strategy to Drive Leads and Revenue
by Mike Khorev
How should we plan an enterprise SEO strategy?
SEO as a marketing channel consists of many different tactics and activities, and on the other hand, it is a very flexible channel where different businesses might require different strategic implementations.
Thus, planning an SEO strategy for an enterprise company can be easier said than done, as we’ll need to consider many different variables to plan many different elements.
With that being said, in this guide, we will discuss a step-by-step guide in planning an SEO strategy, and by the end of this guide, you’ll be ready to execute a well-planned SEO initiative in no time.
Let us begin.
Step 1: Keyword and Topic Research
It’s fairly obvious that keywords are the core of your enterprise SEO, but finding the right keywords for your business can be easier said than done.
First, before we can define our target keywords, there are important things we’ll need to consider, namely:
- What are the objectives of your SEO campaign? What do you want to achieve by ranking higher on Google (or other search engines)? Is it simply to generate more traffic, is it to get more sales revenue on your eCommerce site, is it to help maintain a positive online reputation?
- Who is your ideal audience? The answer here should be closely tied to your SEO goals/objectives, namely, what are their related search intents in relations to your SEO objectives.
- What are the keywords included in these search intents? Now your options are going to be more specific (meaning, it’s relatively easier to choose).
After we’ve answered these questions, there are two main approaches we can take in defining target keywords. The first is to decide on specific topics where you can capture the audience’s attention.
For example, if you are a tech SaaS company selling productivity software, then you can decide on “productivity tips” as your main topic. Then, you can use keyword research tools (like SEMRush or Ahrefs) to find keywords related to this topic that also have high enough search volume.
The second approach is to research the keywords first, and then determine a topic based on these keywords, so your work backward.
In our opinion, you should combine the two approaches together and try to find the best possible topic that can benefit your business, based on three main principles:
- The keyword must be relevant to your ideal audience, based on their search intent. Mainly signified with a high enough search volume.
- The keyword must be relevant to your business and must help your SEO objective.
- The competition for the keywords must be manageable, based on your available resources and time.
You can use various tools from the free (and useful) Google Keyword Planner to premium ones like Ahrefs, SEMRush, and Moz Pro to find these target keywords and topics, but the principles remain the same.
The next step is to find long-tail keywords based on these target topics.
Here’s the thing: with the latest Google algorithm updates, topic expertise is a ranking factor. Meaning, a site that regularly publishes about SEO is more likely to rank higher than another site that publishes one really good, very optimized content about SEO.
So, the idea here is to develop a “layered” enterprise content strategy to establish topic expertise, as we will discuss on the next step.
Step 2: Layered Content Planning
Due to the various changes to Google algorithms, how Google rank websites have also changed dramatically.
To tackle this issue, we need to focus on establishing topic expertise while planning and executing our content marketing.
We do this by dividing our content marketing into two “layers” for each topic:
- Creating one, general content to cover the main topic. For example, if our main topic is “digital marketing”, we might create a lengthy content discussing the basics of digital marketing, along with the channels included within digital marketing (SEO, social media marketing, etc.)
- Creating a cluster of content pieces to target the long-tail keywords related to the topic. With the same example, we create shorter, but more focused content pieces to target “social media marketing”, “SEO”, “influencer marketing”, etc. All of these content pieces are linked to the “main” topic page.
This approach has two-fold benefits:
- As mentioned, this can establish your credibility and expertise for the topic, which can significantly affect your SERP ranking
- The specific “cluster” content can effectively capture a specific audience with specific needs—they are more likely to convert into leads—
- You can generate more backlinks with these specific content pieces, while they can also generate traffic to your main topic page (via internal linking)
- Since these cluster pages are targeting long-tail keywords, it’s (fairly) easier to rank, and this will boost your site’s SEO performance in general
Step 3: Build Pages for Each Main Topic
These pages for the main topic(s) should be your main concern.
Do thorough research for this topic, and especially research the top-ranking competitors’ content for this topic, and keywords related to this topic.
Your objective is to rank higher than these competitors, and there are only two possible ways:
- Create something really good, that is significantly better, more in-depth, more up-to-date information, and more everything that these ranking competitors. You have to be better both in the eyes of your audience and according to Google’s algorithms.
- Take a unique angle and discuss the topic in a different way. While on paper this is the “easier” approach, it can be easier said than done, as finding something really unique and different—but still engaging and interesting—, can be very difficult.
How you will approach this content creation process is up to you, but here are some best practices you always need to keep in mind:
- Above anything else, your goal is to provide value for your human audience. According to Google’s mission statement, it’s about delivering the most reliable and relevant information.
- Based on that previous principle, don’t over-optimize for keywords. Mention your target keywords and semantically-related keywords naturally throughout the content. Maintain the readability and comprehensiveness of your content.
- Use short sentences and paragraphs. No more than 150 words in each paragraph, and create new subheadings every 300 words or so. Use a lot of white spaces to maintain readability.
- Use appropriate images, embed videos, and so on to maintain engagement.
The idea is that this “main” content page targeting the main topic should be very optimized, and should be the centerpiece(s) of your website.
Step 4: Content Clusters To Support The Main Page
While we have discussed that the “main” content should be your central focus, it doesn’t mean these clustering content pieces targeting specific long-tail keywords won’t be important.
However, with these content pieces, we’ll need to take a slightly different approach, namely:
- Here, consistency and regularity are keys. Remember that you are building “clusters”, so the quantity is also important.
- Always link these blog posts from the main content. Use appropriate anchor texts for this purpose. Create an exact section on your main page that can smoothly introduce this subtopic.
- Similarly, link out to the main page from these cluster content pieces. You can do this naturally with an anchor text, or use tags in your CMS.
- Include the long-tail target keywords naturally, and no more than four times throughout the page—assuming the content is 1,000 to 2,000 words long—. As always, focus on maintaining readability and value for your human readers. For long-tail keywords, it’s a little more sensitive, as exact keyword matches will be very obvious. You can easily get penalized for keyword stuffing, so be extra careful when including these long-tail keywords. Avoid exact matches, and use semantically related keywords naturally.
Remember that there are three main purposes of these pages:
- Generating specific traffic that is specifically searching for information related to these long-tail keywords—and convert them into leads when possible—
- Establishing a consistent and credible online presence, so the quantity of your publication is also important
- Build connections between these pages and the “main” content, telling Google—and other search engines— that there’s a relationship between these long-tail keywords and the topic you are trying to rank for.
With these pages, consistency—both in quality and quantity— is key.
Step 5: Generate Backlinks
Backlinks are still the most important ranking factor in enterprise SEO. Think of backlinks as the online “vote of confidence”: the more backlinks—or inbound links—pointing to your content, the more credible and relevant your content is assessed by Google, and thus you’ll climb higher.
With that being said, link building is the main focus of enterprise SEO experts.
It’s important to note that nowadays, the quality of your backlinks is more important than quantity. In fact, getting too many low-quality backlinks at any given time might get your site penalized if Google suspects you from practicing unnatural (grey-hat or black-hat) link buildings.
So, our main objective is to get these high-quality backlinks. Just 2 to 3 authoritative and relevant backlinks in any month are sufficient, and if you can, aim for 5-6 backlinks for each page/month.
However, getting these backlinks can be easier said than done, but here are some important tactics you can implement:
- Don’t overcomplicate things. Good and relevant content will always get linked, and on the other hand, no amount of tactics and efforts can help low-quality content.
- Build relationships with as many relevant parties as you can: business partners, loyal customers with an online presence, press/media, influencers, etc. Relationships are often the most reliable source for high-quality links.
- Create linkable content—unique data/information (research report, case study, etc.), “resource” type of content, visually pleasing infographics/images, current up-to-date events/new, etc. Give them reasons to link your content.
- Link building is quite often, an area where working with SEO experts or consultants can help. Consider outsourcing this process to a credible enterprise SEO agency. They can especially help with their existing relationships with reputable businesses and content publishers in your niche/industry.
There are certainly many other approaches you can try in link building, but these four principles above remain the most important.
Again, consistency is key, but don’t be overly aggressive with your link-building.
Step 6: Optimize Your Site (Technical and Non-Technical On-Site SEO)
If content strategy—as we’ve discussed in the previous steps—, is essentially about attracting and engaging your human audience, here our focus is to please the machine side of SEO—Google’s crawlers and Google’s algorithms—.
Our main objective here is to make sure our site is crawled, indexed, and understood properly by Google—and the other search engines—, so it can rank accordingly on the SERP.
While this is a pretty broad subject, and you might want to check out our previous guide on technical SEO checklist here, here are the important factors to pay attention to:
- Include your target keyword in your URL, but make sure the URL is readable and keep it as short as possible
- Use your keyword in your H1 (Title) tag. If possible, put the keyword upfront.
- For H2, H3, etc. tags, use keywords when you can, but always prioritize readability and natural inclusion rather than forcing to include these keywords
- Optimize images and include keywords in the alt tags
- Improve your internal linking structure
As you can see, most non-technical optimizations are about including your keywords naturally without sacrificing user experience.
Technical on-site optimizations are a little more complex, but here are some key areas to prioritize:
- Improve your site’s load speed. Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights and other tools to assess your site’s current speed, and optimize.
- Mobile-friendliness or mobile-responsiveness of your site
- Check for crawl and indexation errors using various enterprise SEO tools, and fix the existing issues
- Find and fix broken links
- Migrate your site from HTTP to HTTPS if you haven’t already
This is obviously not an all-inclusive list, and there are many more technical optimizations you can implement. However, the main principle remains the same: make sure your site is indexed and perceived correctly by the search engine’s crawlers but also maintain your site’s user experience.
Probably the most important—and relatively simple—process to maintain, is to properly compress and optimize all embedded media before you use them in your content and upload them on your site.
The bigger the file size is, the slower your website will be. As your website grows, you’ll have more of these images, videos, and audio files, and their compounding size can significantly slow the website down.
There are various tools that can help compress images in bulk, for example, Google’s Squoosh (free). Protect your site’s optimal speed, but don’t sacrifice quality and user experience.
Step 7: Monitor, Evaluate, Re-Optimize
It’s no secret that enterprise SEO is a long-term game.
If you do all the steps properly and if all the other factors went right, you can expect to climb to the first page of SERP (from the 5th page) in 2 to 6 months. Then it’s another 6 to 12 months until your page can climb into the top 3 spots—or even better, the #1—.
The key to success in all these months, however, is consistency. It’s important to measure the progress of your SEO efforts, and here are some key areas to evaluate:
- Your performance in SERP ranking (you should climb up the ranking steadily—albeit slowly—)
- Increase/decrease in organic traffic
- User experience metrics especially bounce rate and dwell time, but also other engagement metrics
- Organic reach and impressions
- The content’s conversion rate—if it involves CTA—
- Your site’s technical factors (as discussed above), especially the site’s load speed and mobile-friendliness
- Link profile
Evaluate your overall SEO strategy and content performance according to these metrics, and re-optimize your content and the site accordingly. Update non-performing content, and focus on optimizing for local search and Google Maps to drive more local visitors.
While there can’t be a “one-size-fits-all” approach in implementing an enterprise SEO strategy, the steps we have discussed above can be a good foundation in building your own strategy—according to the needs and objectives of your respective businesses—.
The main principle in a good SEO strategy for B2B and B2C company is to focus on delivering value to the human audience, and not solely focusing on ‘pleasing’ the search engine’s algorithms.
Maintain consistency, and you’ll see your site climb the SERP ranking steadily by implementing the step-by-step strategy above.
February 17, 2020