By Wayne Cichanski

Heading into 2019, search continues to be a leading enterprise acquisition channel. According to PwC and IAB, search engine marketing (SEM) spend totaled $12 billion in the first half of 2018, or 46 percent of the digital ad market.

That figure is up 19 percent year-over-year, demonstrating SEM’s enduring strength in the digital landscape. A quiet shift may be taking place, however, as investment in search optimization (SEO) continues to increase among our enterprise clients.

SEO is gaining popularity because of organic search’s widespread use in the buyer journey, as well as its cost-effectiveness relative to SEM. But getting the most out of SEO requires that you nail the basics – and with that in mind, enterprise SEO audits have an essential role to play.

Whether you’re at the beginning of your SEO journey or are seeking to refine your SEO strategy for 2019, here are 5 things to consider as you roll out an enterprise SEO audit.

Make your enterprise SEO audit inclusive

Within large organizations, departments that should be integrated – marketing, product, IT, customer experience – are often siloed. For an enterprise SEO audit to be successful, these teams must harmonize their search efforts.

Integrating your development team and bringing audits into their workstream is especially important. Ideally, everything your developers do need to be search friendly, so as to support everything else your organization is doing on the search channel.

What this means in practice: Bring a technical checklist through every sprint cycle that you’re doing, and enforce compliance with SEO best practices in all matters related to your site. Most developers don’t care that there are two H1 tags, but Google does.

Optimize for crawlbot behavior

As you build out the code on your web pages, make sure it is readable to bots. One important step, neglected by many enterprises, is to pause or remove render-blocking JavaScript, which can hinder crawlbot activity.

Not only that, bear in mind that bots are sensitive to differences between enterprise desktop and mobile sites. Now that Google’s indexer looks at websites’ mobile versions first, it’s even more important to harmonize any and all site content you publish.

Above all, aim to serve the same content to a bot that you would to a consumer, and don’t use old-school black-hat techniques like cloaking. Google doesn’t want to see you doing two different things.

Consider how well you help customers navigate the user journey

All of your enterprise SEO audit efforts should also roll up to an audit of the journey your customers take. Ask yourself – are you educating your market? Your goal should be to share the who, what and why of what you’re selling.

Imagine you’re selling mountain bikes. You should publish content that captures the attention of bike shoppers all the way through the purchase process:

  • Which are the must-participate mountain bike races, and where are they happening
  • What are the differences between different race bikes
  • How to tune a mountain bike.

Aggregators and affiliates do well in SEO because they pay attention to this. By publishing quality content that is relevant to the entire customer journey, then attracting links to that content, they build a topical authority in a way that is hard for others to match.

Audit the product maturity journey

In addition to scrutinizing how well your content maps to the user journey, you should also be concerned with the product maturity journey – something that often gets overlooked in SEO.

“Product maturity” refers to how you graduate the customer through your line of products. It may not apply to a single big purchase like a mountain bike, but for businesses like banks, there are going to be opportunities to cross-sell from one product to another.

Not only is mapping product maturity more appealing to consumers (because people typically want to buy into a package instead of a single product), it also supports SEO by signaling to Google how your products relate to each other.

Via your page hierarchy, calls to action, and overall user experience, your site should make it clear that there’s a larger mission at hand: to serve your customers’ many and varied needs.

Conduct a landscape assessment

As a final consideration in your enterprise SEO audit, you must also weigh how your products, services and value proposition are represented in the digital marketplace.

It’s important at the outset of an SEO audit to set goals for how you want to be positioned organically. Are you aiming for a particular rank for certain keywords used by your customers on their path to purchase – or is your goal related to traffic?

In this process, it’s useful to identify whether non-branded organic search is contributing less traffic than it should. If all of your traffic is coming from branded terms, that’s unsustainable – and suggests that you’re under-investing in the kind of content that drives organic clicks.

A decent ratio of branded to non-branded is 35-40% branded and 60-65% non-branded. Determining how far you are from these figures gives you a baseline to work against as you make improvements.

Doing well in SEO requires careful attention to technical elements and key ranking signals – but it also demands that you meet the users’ needs in a way that drives attention and engagement. Search optimization is, after all, an art and a science.

Interested in learning about how iQuanti can help you with your Enterprise SEO needs? Click here to read more.