The Challenges of Enterprise SEO
Nick Wilsdon joins the SEO Rant Podcast to share what he sees as the challenges of doing enterprise SEO:
The pace of progress when doing SEO on larger sites
The personality needed to work on enterprise sites
Remaining hands-on when working in the enterprise environment
While working on large sites is not any more meaningful than doing SEO for an SMB or SME it does present unique challenges. In this episode, Nick and I run through what it's like to work in the enterprise environment, what complexities that brings, and what personal challenges come with enterprise SEO.
Here's what we discussed.
The Challenges When Doing SEO on a Large Site
Optimizing a large site is simply different than doing SEO on a medium or small site. Working at the enterprise levels presents unique challenges and places unique demands on you, the SEO. Some of these challenges are more obvious than others. Sure, you can easily imagine that auditing a large site will present different challenges than working with a smaller site. Clearly, that's the case. However, there are more intricate challenges that come with working on larger sites as well.
#1 Everything Takes More Time
There are some clear and obvious differences between doing SEO on large sites versus doing SEO and small to medium sites. Just managing the number of pages on a larger site is, of course, more complicated than it is on a medium-sized site. That's clear.
One thing that you may not realize, however, is that working on larger sites is slower. When you're working on a smaller site it is far easier to be agile, to sign off on tasks, and to make changes to the site rather quickly. As a result, seeing the impact of your SEO efforts on a smaller site generally won't take you years. To that, you can take more risks and be more adventurous when working with a smaller site.
This is not the case when working with a very large site. From the work process to the results everything moves slower when doing SEO on a large site. You're trying to move an oil tanker when you work on a big site and that requires an absurd level of planning. As opposed to a smaller site, you can't come up with a novel idea and run to implement it. Your SEO efforts are far more planned out than that with a larger site.
With an enterprise site, you have to take a step back. You have to not only find the problems but then determine how to get them done. That means creating various levels of prioritization due to the scope of the work.
Moreover, upon prioritizing the SEO work to be done you need to ensure it aligns with the KPIs of the business. Doing so is paramount in getting the buy-in you need to get a large-scale project approved so that you can make the changes to the site that you feel it needs.
#2 Having the Right Personality
Due to the scale of enterprise SEO and the various stakeholders involved you'll have to do a good amount of advocacy. As mentioned, when you want to make large-scale changes to a site you're going to need the appropriate buy-in. To get that means you have to function as an SEO advocate.
This means educating and collaborating with a host of different people and departments. Getting buy-in for your project is less an "SEO" feat than it is a political one. It takes a certain kind of personality to navigate this.
As an enterprise SEO, you need to have range. You need to be able to dig in and get into the nitty-gritty of the problem while being able to explain it all to the CEO. You need technical skills and soft skills alike.
The balance of skill sets is not to be minimized. When working on a large site you may, at times, spend more of your time on advocacy and planning than on any actual SEO work. This is where a lot of SEOs who are new to enterprise SEO get lost. They come in ready to work and get their hands dirty but walk into a situation where the bulk of the work is planning and advocacy!
#3 Keeping Your SEO Skills Fresh
Because so much of the work at the enterprise level is about planning and advocacy it can be extremely hard to keep your hard skills up to par. When working on a large site there is the risk that you become a planner and advocater at the expense of being a doer.
You have to put a concerted effort into making sure you have time to keep your hard skills fresh. A lot of this depends on what role you have. If you work at an SEO agency the agency model might make it very hard to be directly involved in the SEO work. However, if you are a consultant working on large sites you may very well have the opportunity to directly work on the site's SEO.
The point is to be aware of how your time is being split and to make a conscious effort to somehow spend some time on doing some actual SEO work.
Make Sure Enterprise SEO Is Right For You
Working on big sites and doing enterprise SEO is "sexy" but it doesn't mean it's a good fit for you. Let me say this with total clarity, there is nothing less important or less meaningful about working with an SMB or an SME! If you want to get into enterprise SEO because it's the "sexy" thing to do... don't. That's a pretty bad reason to do much of anything let alone make a career choice.
There are things that are uniquely rewarding about working on large sites just as there are things that are uniquely rewarding about working with a smaller site. It's purely a matter of knowing what is meaningful to you.
The very nature of the work when working within a larger organization is different than working in a smaller institution. If you love advocacy and education and working on big projects with lots of moving parts, then enterprise SEO might be for you. If you have the kind of personality that has the patience for slow-moving projects then go right ahead and take on a big site.
However, if you love being agile and having full control over a project then enterprise SEO might not be for you.
The point is, one is not better than the other. Working on a large site is simply different than working on a smaller site. Do what fits your personality and your way of working not what fits a certain stereotypical narrative.
For more of the SEO Rant Podcast check out our previous episode on why copycat content is a terrible strategy.