If you perform a search for the top SEO hurdles for 2018, you’ll invariably find solutions for small to medium-sized businesses. For years now search engine optimization (SEO) advice has been small business oriented. It’s long been assumed that corporations and other large entities have it made based on their available resource utilization, longstanding website features, and overall branding. While the big business advantage may be true in many cases, major stumbling blocks in SEO remain. Here’s a concise look at how SEO campaigning works for small businesses versus corporate efforts.
When Bigger Means Tougher
It goes without saying that the bigger the business, the larger and more complex a company’s website will be. Large corporations will have multiple departments, products, and services to display on their websites. Such depth usually dictates more information, as well as breadth of coverage. An extensive corporate website may have many thousands of interiors pages, versus dozens or hundreds for smaller businesses. Therefore, the SEO best practice strategy of conducting keyword searches and optimization for each and every page becomes a relatively staggering task.
It is for this reason that most larger entities employ in-house SEO specialists to do the massive job of optimization. For those companies short on budget, the marketing department is often tasked with the additional chore of keeping up with SEO. More often than not marketing needs get prioritized first, leaving crucial SEO tasks on the back burner. This is where outsourced SEO work makes the most sense. Specialists are far more familiar and experienced, and many businesses feel a weight lifted when the work is done as a priority. HubShout identifies several reasons why companies do not outsource SEO:
Despite the cons, here are some of the clear advantages of outsourcing SEO:
- Affordability – in most cases, you get a lot more SEO bang by outsourcing than by employing an internal expert.
- Inward-facing expertise – in-house SEO experts will eventually become company-centric. This means fewer bright ideas and innovation, and a potential lack of objectivity in areas like competitor analysis, etc.
- Ongoing, dedicated support – SEO is a continuing process that is best handled by experts with one focus. In-house SEO people are often multitasked.
- Tricks and tools – the best SEO experts are on top of the latest tools and trends because it is their sole reason for being in business. In-house SEO is not always focused this way.
Whether your business is large or small, the merits of outsourcing are clear. In general, it is better to outsource SEO so that your staff can concentrate on what they are trained to do and let a company that specializes in search marketing take care of optimization.
SEO Red Tape Nightmares
Once the decision is made to outsource, more SEO monsters will invariably rear their heads. For small businesses, SEO projects usually require one or two people to work with an outsourced partner. The job of approvals and other communicative musts can get complicated even at this level. But small businesses don’t have near the red tape nightmare corporations do.
SEO work that is conducted by an external agency usually requires a rigorous approval process. Marketing executives have their “say so” requirements, the PR team must give a “two cents” as well, and by the end of the approval process, many eyes will have had to scrutinize any SEO content or linking effort. This takes a lot of time and saps resources.
SEO is not a fast process, which is another reason it is an ongoing effort over the long term. A stall or bottleneck anywhere along the way means the whole SEO/SEM effort suffers. Here are some ways your organization can cut or eliminate blockages.
- Refine your internal processes – by standardizing and refining many of the specifications and requirements, you can streamline the whole SEO campaign approval process.
- Know and trust your provider – trust is the most critical factor in any business relationship. Confidence in your provider will make streamlining processes more manageable.
- Make flexibility a priority – agencies and clients benefit from striving to be fleet-footed in a fast-paced digital landscape.
Flawed Monitoring Processes
Whether a company outsources or uses in-house SEO, the need for accurate and meaningful measurement is vital. Even though bigger companies tend to have a longer history of SEO efforts, many organizations still have trouble getting a handle on metrics and the resultant ROI indications. Big companies that still struggle to prove the value of the SEO channel have trouble for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, most experts agree that traffic analysis is the most relevant method of monitoring SEO progress, but few are convinced as to which measurement tools to use. Many companies we talk to have gone through the trial and error process, with some still suffering through myriad useless tools to find the ROI grail.
To make matters worse, in-house teams and agencies differ on their selected tools. In addition, each expert disagrees on the various KPIs they use to measure success. For larger organizations with bigger client demographics, the proper measure and demonstration of true ROI can be a mind-boggling task.
No matter how big or small your business is, you need to find the appropriate mix of unique KPIs directly related to your business’ goals. Each organization will have its own unique mix, but here are a few valuable KPI tips regarding how to connect SEO outcomes to business objectives.
- Know the objectives - to accurately measure SEO success it is crucial to define the steps necessary to achieve the desired result.
- Get clear analysis - decision-makers need metrics they can understand. Data and clear correlations are essential for measuring KPIs.
- Categorization of KPIs – One of the most useful ideas for communicating performance is to utilize the “Volume, Quality, Value and Cost” model described here:
- Volume: Unique visitors, visits, page views and so on
- Quality: Bounce rate, visit duration, pages per visit
- Value: What is the financial value of a visit/lead/conversion?
- Cost: How much does it cost to acquire a lead or sale from SEO?
SEO Metrics for Corporations
While there are templates for creating KPIs to gauge the progress of any business, factors inherent in each business create a dynamic demand for individualization. Traditional KPIs to gauge progress need to be compared based on variables like competitor values and market peculiarities, etc.
The only static variable in good SEO practice is context. No matter what the character or size of your business, good SEO results are obtained based on the trust and authority of your website. Rank is a function of trust, which is achieved through organic traffic, which is in turn earned by context and relevance. Other mitigating success aspect include referral traffic, brand impact, link-building efforts, and lead generation capability.
The most important SEO metrics to look for are:
- Organic traffic – traffic you receive from your listings in the SERPs without paying for it (so not the traffic from Google or Bing Ads, for example)
- Organic bounce rate – which measures the percentage of visitors leaving your site after viewing only one page. You should keep the bounce rates low, so if you notice high bounce rates, try to improve your on-site content to keep visitors browsing around.
- Click-through rate (CTR) – the percentage of clicks on your links in search. If this number is low, you should improve your meta titles and descriptions to make the content of your links as listed in the SERPs more appealing to search engine users.
- Organic conversion rates – SEO can bring visitors to your site, but it’s up to you to make the sale. It is not enough to have traffic, if the visitors do not buy on your site.
- Crawl errors – Google shows the crawl errors in the Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools). It is in your best interest to monitor these issues carefully and fix errors as they occur. Crawl errors could include 404 pages, 500 responses, access denied, and so on.
- Crawl stats – important for large sites with thousands of pages of content. Crawl stats show the Googlebot activity in the last 90 days. If you have a large site but the Googlebot crawls only a small percentage of your pages, you should revisit your technical SEO.
- Google index – the total of pages indexed by Google. If this is alarmingly low, you may want to revisit your technical SEO and submit some of the pages that are not indexed manually using the Fetch as Google feature in your Search Console.
- Mobile usability – this is a new feature in the Search Console and a critical one as sites with mobile issues will not rank well in mobile search. Statista revealed that 51.77 percent of global web traffic originated from mobile devices in the first quarter of 2018. You should also use the Accelerated Mobile Pages section in the Search Console to track AMP URLs with issues and to address critical errors on your AMP pages timely.
These are just some of the most important SEO metrics to consider in 2018 for sites of all sizes. Google has also introduced a beta version of the Search Console, which brings other interesting statistics in front of webmasters – like the best performing keywords, pages, countries, devices, and search appearance.
Not Keeping up with SEO Trends
Leaving social media out of the SEO strategy is one of the most common mistakes made by businesses of all ages, including corporations. Google confirmed it uses public links on Facebook and Twitter as ranking factors as early as 2010, but in 2014 they stopped using them as such to curb spam. Today, however, social media profiles rank well for brands and the content shared on these profiles has an impact on how users find information about these businesses.
“From credible backlinks to viral social sharing of blog posts, social media profiles are often amongst the top results in search listings for brand names,” explains Lauren Gilmore. “People don’t just go to Google to look stuff up – they also use social media channels to find what they’re looking for.”
Leaving social media out of the SEO strategy is as bad as disregarding local SEO and mobile SEO. Statistics show that local searches become increasingly important for users.
- 46% of all Google searches are local, yet 56% of local stores are yet to claim their local listing on Google
- In the past two years, Think with Google recorded 900%+ growth in mobile searches for “___ near me today/tonight” (for example, “open houses near me today,” “cheap hotels near me tonight,” and “movies playing near me today”)
- Nearly two-thirds of smartphone users are more likely to purchase from companies whose mobile sites or apps customize information to their location. (Think with Google)
- 17% of consumers used a social network when looking for information about local businesses. (Think with Google)
- 76% of people who search on their smartphones for something nearby visit a business within a day. (Think with Google)
These, and other statistics, show that local SEO is a powerful tool to drive sales and boost ROI.