Your website is the face and voice of your business.
It communicates (better than any other sales channel) what your business does, its mission, and everything it has to offer. For an enterprise-level business, their site is the central hub that connects all other channels, offerings, locations, etc., to your brand, creating a cohesive digital experience.
Of course, for a website to be able to keep up the pace with your ever-expanding business, it needs to scale effectively. And because of these scalability needs, enterprises require a different mindset.
Including when it comes to SEO.
Although search engine optimization fundamentals will always apply to every site, no matter its size, there’s a need to adapt most techniques to the pure scale of these massive enterprise websites, and some issues are more relevant when millions of pages are at stake. With that in mind, let’s explore 10 optimization strategies you can use to guarantee higher search rankings and scalable processes:
1. Create a scalable site structure
Site structure is the foundation of your site.
This affects user experience, crawl efficiency, content categories, etc. Although this goes to every site, small or big, a solid and easy-to-navigate site structure can help you improve search engine rankings by allowing Googlebot and other crawlers to find your pages and understand the connection between them.
Image source: Bluehost
A good rule of thumb is to hit a balance between flat and deep. You want to create a structure that communicates a clear hierarchy without having pages over 10 clicks deep.
To achieve this balance, here are a few ideas worth exploring:
- Create well-defined categories
Group your content by theme and overarching topic, allowing you to segment your content into silos instead of having the same piece on five different category pages.
- Add breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs are links that allow users to move through pages easily. These links can show the different paths/clicks you’ve made to get into this page or help users orient themselves through categories.
- Plan your main navigation
All major links go into the main navigation. This is the central hub for users to find the information they come for, giving search engines a clear path in terms of hierarchy. These are the links that take crawlers from the homepage to the content, making the main navigation menu a reflection of your site structure.
- Create URL logic
Automating URL generation can save your site from very terrible slugs, inconsistencies, and mistakes.
Make sure that the logic is clean and that it generates human-readable URLs.
- Design site guidelines
Having strict guidelines on page creation processes, styles, internal links, etc., can help to maintain a consistent site structure. You need to help your team collaborate on website structure by establishing a URL system that prevents multiple pages from being created with the same slug, capitalization, hyphens, dashes, and other inconsistencies. Organizing your content effectively is crucial for enterprise success.
2. Use topic clusters to group keywords and go after high-competition keywords
A topic cluster is a group of related content connected through internal links and a pillar page.
In a cluster, the pillar page is usually a long-form piece of content that exhaustively covers a topic, generally targeting a broad keyword (like SEO). Then you have the cluster topics, which are pages covering one specific subtopic in-depth (like SEO metrics or SEO audit templates for beginners).
Image source: Hubspot
This content structure helps Google understand the semantic relationship between content and makes it easier to create a well-distributed site structure, as the pillar page can be a great link between the homepage and the cluster pages. This is an excellent strategy for enterprise sites to build manageable site structures and improve crawl efficiency and user experience.
Still, for some enterprise websites growing to millions of URLs, this strategy needs to be implemented alongside the next.
3. Use subdomains to group content
As your product library, offerings, and the number of topics covered by your content team grow, you should explore the use of subdomains. A subdomain is a new domain directly associated with the main (or root) domain, allowing you to use this new space to accommodate unique content and use different tools and structures based on users’ needs.
Let’s take a look at Webflow’s subdomain strategy:
- https://webflow.com/ is the main or root domain. They use this domain to showcase everything their tool has to offer, templates, marketplace, etc.
- https://university.webflow.com/ is a subdomain containing all training videos and courses to help users and interested professionals learn how to use Webflow. It has a unique feel and functionality.
- https://developers.webflow.com/ is a subdomain focused entirely on API documentation to help developers create applications for the Webflow platform.
These three properties allow Webflow to group its content based on the user experience.
Developers want a totally different experience from those looking to learn the tool, and the marketing site (the main domain) emphasizes selling the website builder to designers, developers, and creatives.
4. Build a content production team and processes
Content production is one of the most time-consuming and essential aspects of SEO. Search engines’ job is to find, organize, and display the best answer to queries, and it all starts with content production.
Site structure and topic clusters planning are the blueprints. Now it’s time to create the actual pages, which requires a lot of collaboration from writers, editors, designers, project managers, and developers.
However, it’s not just about creating text-based content but also videos and images.
In today’s SERPs, we can see videos ranking for specific keywords, especially for practical guides. It makes total sense if you think about it, as a video could sometimes answer queries better than text.
To create a content team that scales, you’ll need to put enough resources into the marketing budget and think about the kind of content that works best for your industry.
If you don’t know where to start, here’s a guide to building a successful SEO team worth checking out.
Besides the people involved in the process, you must also create the following:
- Writing and brand guidelines
- Clear instructions for each step of the process
- Content briefs
- Designing the visuals
- Editorial review
- Optimization and metadata
- Distribution strategy
- Approval processes
The clearer the process, the more consistent results you’ll get.
5. Implement structured data (schema.org) to help search engines understand your pages
Structured data (SD) is a standardized format of code that gives Google more context about your page’s content, helping them crawl and index your pages by making it easier to add to their knowledge graph.
Implementing SD into your pages allows you to introduce site elements as objects Google can understand into this knowledge graph. In return, Google can display rich results in the SERPs using information like Knowledge Panels – which contain business information and generate more trust for users searching for your brand – or even show event details right from the search result page.
In the example above, Google can recognize Hubspot as a company. Once recognized, it grants HubSpot a company knowledge panel filled with important information and links for readers to trust. But there’s something more important than rich results – although some studies have shown that structured data on product pages can increase CTR by 111% – that enterprise businesses should focus on.
As we said earlier, Google has built and keeps growing a knowledge graph to make sense of relationships. This makes it so Google can understand context and search intent better. In our enterprise setting, using structured data across all properties, products, and important pages, will help us connect the dots for Google and establish a closer relationship between the different touch points of our brands.
For example, successful acquisitions are great for business but can also be good for SEO. Using structure data, we can build those connections between the acquired brand and the main brand. Thus, allowing Google to understand the relationship between these two entities.
Note: As you can imagine, this is also why SD is used for reputation management. Experienced SEOs can use it to curate the online presence of companies and people involved. View our structured data guide for SEO to get started with SD. It’s filled with details and code examples to draw inspiration from.
6. Integrate featured snippet optimization into your strategy
A featured snippet is a curated version of a piece of content that answers a search query right from the SERP without the user having to click on a website. These are usually placed after ads but before the first “organic result.”
In the image above, you can see Google is showing a list formatted feature snippet, but it’s also displaying Canva’s homepage as the first organic result. This is the power of feature snippets.
Although it would initially seem like it contributes to zero-click searches, taking traffic away from your site, feature snippets actually increase CTR for your links. Snippets are great opportunities to gain brand exposure, win position zero on the SERPs – thus getting more traffic – and earn more SERP real estate.
Hubspot took a sample “of just under 5,000 queries, (and) found that the CTR to the HubSpot website for high-volume keywords increased by over 114%, even when (they) ranked #1 for the query.”
Note: Answer Boxes are featured snippets that show the answer to a question-like query or a definition in a box format. To optimize for feature snippets, you can follow these steps:
- Use a tool like SEMrush to find all relevant queries with feature snippet potential. These are keywords that already have a featured snippet or queries that users might favor snippets like concepts and direct questions.
- You want to answer these questions as part of a more extensive page. For example, if the question is “why should I pre-render my pages,” an article about rendering options would be a good fit for this answer.
- Write your page following a clear structure. To help Google find the right portion of the content for its snippet, you need to build a well-defined markup (HTML) with headings and paragraph tags.
- For the question or definition-based query, use the question (or similar question) in a heading and answer it right after in 100 words or less.
- Using structure, you can create a list of steps using H2 or H3 tags for Google to display as a list – like in Canva’s example above.
- You can also rank for feature snippets with graphs, videos, and tables, so don’t ignore them.
- Although some Google spokespeople have said schema markup doesn’t affect feature snippets, it’s always a best practice to add it to help Google understand the elements on the page. Some SEOs still hold they’ve seen an increase in feature snippets after implementing structure data on their pages.
7. Monitor and optimize technical performance
With size comes more technical issues and harder-to-implement fixes. These are more complicated to manage because of the impact changes can have on the website’s performance and not necessarily because of the technical complexity of the fix.
Changing one aspect of a template will affect hundreds of thousands of pages, which can quickly escalate to drops in ranking or unexpected errors.
But it also means that a simple error can affect a large portion of the site, creating a crippling effect. These changes need to be done carefully and promptly.
Enterprise websites must monitor performance constantly to stay on top of issues and avoid accumulating problems. Tools like Screaming Frog and Google Search Console are helpful for this. You can also use tools like Lumar (formerly DeepCrawl) for an out-of-the-box solution to keep track of errors in [almost] real-time.
With so many people working on these projects, things are bound to break, and having systems in place to identify these issues will save time and money.
As always, all technical SEO best practices apply, but there are three common issues to consider for enterprise sites:
- Page speed and rendering
Page speed is crucial for rankings, conversions, and user experience in general. Without a fast and responsive site, more often than not, users will bounce out of your page, and Google will pass on ranking them on page one – let alone the top five.
JS also dramatically impacts your site crawlability and indexation, making it harder for search engines to access your content and load your pages.
For quick and lasting results, you’ll need to take care of rendering, which is the most resource-intensive process for crawlers, and for that, the best solution is pre-rendering your pages. This will take the heavy workload out of search engines’ hands and take your Page Speed Insights score to new levels. Softonic accomplished a 92 page speed score after using Prerender.
- Broken links and redirect chains
Changes in URLs are common thing during technical and content SEO optimizations. However, changes in one link are easy to oversee in an ocean of URLs, generating hundreds of broken links across the site.
The first step to managing these issues is setting systems to monitor URL changes and identify broken links issues.
Tools like SEOradar can be used to set alerts when URLs turn into 404 pages appear, understand the impact of this change, and even take a look at archive screenshots.
It’s important to understand that a 404 error page won’t immediately impact your rankings. These 404 not found status codes will buy you some time. As long as you act on it as fast as possible, you can avoid losing revenue and rankings.
Redirects can multiply as more pages are removed and added to the website. Over time, it’s common for enterprise websites to generate hundreds of unnecessary redirects or redirect loops that consume their crawl budget and harm the site’s performance.
These issues can and will drain your crawl budget quickly, taking resources away from important pages, slowing down indexing and reindexing of changes, and stagnating your site’s growth.
To avoid these problems, we’ve written a quick guide on finding and solving redirect chain issues your team can leverage.
- Duplicate content
“Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely matches other content in the same language or are appreciably similar. Mostly, this is not deceptive in origin.”
Enterprise websites, especially eCommerce sites, are highly susceptible to duplicate content issues due to category pages, facet navigation, templates, product variations, etc. Also, franchises use a lot of the same information, as there’s not much difference between the offerings different locations can show to their customers.
In short, duplicate content is always a problem that needs to be handled and constantly monitored, as it’s usually not about mistakes but how Google sees your content and the information you need to present to users.
We’ve created a complete guide on finding and fixing duplicate content issues you can use on your next site audit.
Note: Another source of duplicate issues are localized pages. To handle localization, set your Hreflang links on your sitemap to tell Google the relationship between the versions.
8. Automate page optimization tasks with templates
Building and optimizing every page is time-consuming and, in most cases, impossible at the scale enterprise websites need. That’s where collaboration comes in.
Technical SEO and developers should work together to create templates that can be replicated for the different page types your team will be using. By making these template pages with SEO in mind from scratch, your team will work faster in a more sustainable and scalable way.
It might take longer to plan, design, code, and optimize a template for it to hit all performance and SEO targets, but once it’s done, you’ll be able to move faster without causing issues.
After all this legwork is done, it will be easier to maintain and create new pages.
Think of the types of pages your organization will need and what elements can be optimized and automated.
9. Optimize Page 2 Rankings
An effective strategy for quick wins is targeting keywords you’re already ranking for on position 11 – 20 (page 2 on search results). Moving these pages to page one might take some effort, but not nearly enough if you were trying to rank a page on position 65.
The best part of these opportunities is that just making them jump to the first page can increase visibility exponentially and open the door to new opportunities to move up.
To implement this strategy, you can use a tool like SEMrush or Ahrefs (or just use GSC for more accurate but less organized data) and filter your rankings to those in positions 11 – 20. (A helpful approach is to include a 100 minimum volume to see keywords that are new, improved, or experienced no change). Once you have all this data, it is time to dig into all the rankings and keywords and find those that better align with your business and audience to start working on link building and optimization.
10. Leverage your brand to scale link building
The most powerful asset you have in your arsenal is your brand. Enterprise-level companies can leverage their name and budget to create unique opportunities others can hardly replicate.
First, you need to tap into your unlinked mentions. If you are a prominent name in your industry, more often than not, writers will want to talk about your brand, but in a lot of cases, they don’t add a link to your site.
These unlinked mentions are easy to build backlinks from, as writers are already talking about you or using resources and pages from your site. You can find these (unlinked) brand mentions with a tool like Ahref’s content explorer or monitor the web with Brand24 – for example.
Another strategy is creating data-driven content with unique insights, statistics, and/or angles to generate organic links. Although this might seem like a lot of work, these pages can bring high-quality backlinks if they present relevant, original data, boosting authority and relevance and brand authority in your industry.
No matter the strategy you use, link building is amount relations and PR, so use your brand as a superpower to scale your efforts.
Thinking beyond just today’s best practices.
Enterprise sites need to start incorporating voice and visual search as an essential part of their strategies. Mobile use keeps growing, and the way people search for information on these devices has more variety than desktop searches. To add to this, voice search is also useful for people with visual impairments, making your sites more accessible – which is both good for users and for rankings.
Enterprise SEO can be challenging but also very rewarding. As long as you follow these 10 tips and strategies, you’ll be on the right track to higher rankings and more sustainable growth.
If you’re having trouble increasing site performance and passing all page speed tests search engines throw at you, let Prerender take care of it. After installing our middleware, you can focus on content and business development while we handle the crawlers for you.