Enterprise SEO for Big Sites

PubCon – Enterprise SEO 12/6/07

Enterprise SEO is meant for big sites with millions of pages. The question was “Are SEO Techniques different for enterprise SEO?” Optimizing big sites (Large scale SEO) share similarities with basic SEO but it has its own unique differences and problems.

Enterprise SEO: similarities with other sites:

    SEO basics
    Content focus
    Link popularity

Enterprise SEO: Differences

    Impact of basics
    Internal link structure

– It is important to define the site structure when optimizing big sites. The site architecture should be more horizontal
– Cross linking to related content, deep linking to important content and HTML Sitemaps are very important for crawlers to find content.
Optimizing URL structure is very important

Enterprise SEO: Problems

1. Problem: Content overlap over many pages
Solution: Target keyword variations and use sub-domains

2. Problem: Millions of pages make crawling to deep pages difficult
Solution: Improve link structure. As an example, Gerhart shows a diagram of different linking structures:
– “bad linking structure” with a home page linking deep down two legs
– “good linking structure” where the home page links to a larger number of top level categories

3. Problem: Interlinking pages is difficult due to the site size and its dynamic nature.
Solution: Setup dynamic keyword linking. create a custom script that target your keyword in your pages and link back to the desired page. I can’t stress enough how important internal linking is to big sites.

4. Problem: Short page life
Solution: Archive your content and products. add a link to archives page.

5. Problem: Too little time and resources to focus on all pages
Solution:
– Automate as much as possible. Start with optimizing the templates, page title formats, etc. Find the quick fixes that will have the greatest impact.
– check Robots.txt, you will be surprised.
– Start with optimizing Top Level Pages (section home pages) and Category Level Pages.
– Check the redirects on the server, the default redirect is 302. Change all redirects to 301

6. Problem: SEO isn’t one the company’s priorities.
Solution: Tie the SEO effect and impact to the potential revenue gains. VPs understand the language of numbers.

7. Problem: Duplicate Content
Solution: Try to identify the most obvious pages or templates causing duplicate content and block it in the robots.txt, for example printer friendly pages. keep investigating.

Sometimes duplicate content is due to mutiple international domains for the same language (one site for US and another for UK): you need to rewrite some of the content if possible, use Google Webmaster Tools to geo-assign sites, add address into the footer if possible, host US site in US and UK site in UK.


8. Problem: Load balancing creating duplicate content on multiple domains or sub-domains (www, www1, www2, etc)

Solution: use “a reverse-proxy with url rewrite” and also if it is a scripted site, Modify the script so that it checks the requested URL. If the URL is www then add nothing….If the URL is www1 or www2 then add the [meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”] tag to the page…Eventually you will only have one set of URLs indexed.

9. Other Problems: to be addressed later
– Page/site moves
– Marketing friendly (vanity) URLs
– Tracking URLs
– Integration and coordination with paid search campaigns and on-site search

Enterprise SEO Tips & Tactics:

– Set up a global strategy for SEO
– Don’t compromise too much with the IT department, bush back. In my own experience most the IT Departments and Tech people don’t get the value of SEO.
– Clean up code clutter: move CSS and JavaScript to external files.
– Cross promotion: Link to all sister sites (company owned web sites) from the home page. Even though these links will not be valued as other incoming links due to the fact search engines give less value to links from family site, but it is still adds value especially if you linking back from a PR7 site.
– Internal Education is very important to the success of SEO. Organize seminars and Training session, evangelize SEO value across internal clients and departments. Customize your training session for different departments; Marketing department will be interested in different SEO information that the tech department.
– SEO Guidelines and Best Practices are very important.
– QA: make sure you QA SEO implementation. Monitor all new pages and make sure is SEO is implemented
– Track Revenue. Sometimes this is not possible in private companies.
– Monitor Organic Traffic: it is very important to identify SEO Metrics (Organic Sessions, Referrals, Search Referrals, Indexed Pages, Backlinks, etc. and monitor them on monthly basis.
– Add social bookmarks and tagging capablities to your pages, include digg, reddit, etc. This tactic is very helpful generating thousands of links especially if your site contains millions of pages.
– If the site has millions of pages, use sub-domains. categorize content into themes and develop a good linking structure between the main domain and all other sub-domains. about.com is a great example of using sub-domains. sub-domains are also good for company’s reputation management and SERP (search engine optimization page) dominance when people looking up the company’s name or brand.
– Prioritize and Execute
– If you company has many sites targeting different countries, languages, use Google Webmaster Tools. There is a new feature that allows webmasters to assign a geographic target to their sites.

More info can be found in In-House SEO

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