The enterprise SEO landscape is highly fragmented. In any metro area, you can find dozens of SEO agencies and consultants guaranteeing a higher search ranking and more site traffic.
But how do you cut through the noise and choose the right SEO agency for your needs?
Why is choosing the right Enterprise SEO agency critical?
Selecting an SEO company is different from picking a software vendor. When interacting with vendors, you can conduct demos or trials to ensure you’re making an informed choice. With agencies, however, it’s about building a relationship instead of buying a product.
The core of the challenge that most enterprises face is this: enterprise SEO is as much about successfully navigating and coordinating efforts across a complex labyrinth of cross-organizational teams, as it is about designing and executing a large-scale SEO strategy. Not all SEO agencies are equipped to handle the opportunities and challenges that an enterprise-level organic search channel acquisition strategy design & execution calls for.
Not only will you not know at the outset whether your agency relationship will be a productive one, SEO by nature is hard to evaluate in a narrow time frame. Even when you find an enterprise agency partner, their results can take nine or 12 months to come to fruition. You may hire and manage an SEO agency for a full year, only to have them underdeliver against what they had promised.
We’ve participated in the RFP process with dozens of Fortune 500 companies. Here’s what we’ve learned about the questions should you ask an enterprise SEO agency to avoid that worst-case outcome.
1. Does your Enterprise SEO agency have experience with complex teams?
Enterprise SEO has some unique challenges, the most significant of which are scale and complexity. With our enterprise-level clients, SEO demands the input of multiple departments and stakeholders from a variety of business lines.
Your SEO agency be prepared to work with a variety of different stakeholders, including:
- Legal teams, who must approve site edits in regulated industries like financial services.
- Public relations and executive teams, who are concerned with how website changes will affect the corporate brand.
- Marketing teams, who must ensure SEO helps support their broader KPIs.
- IT teams, who are integral to making things happen on technical SEO initiatives.
A good SEO agency will have experience working cross-organizationally to manage all of these inputs. In addition, given the importance of content to SEO, be sure your agency can navigate complex content approval processes.
Experience working with large players is a specific skill that not all agencies offer. Without it, your SEO efforts can falter before they get started.
2. Can your Enterprise SEO agency present proof of results moving ranks?
You don’t seek organic search ranking increases for their own sake. Rather, you want those ranking increases to translate to better outcomes for your business.
Are you trying to drive more phone calls to your sales organization? Do you want more in-store visits? Are you trying to ramp up lead form fills? SEO can support all of these areas, but only if you hold your agency accountable to driving results.
That is, you need an agency partner that will not only deliver measurable results from SEO but ensure those results impact your acquisition funnel. One proxy for assessing impact is proven experience moving ranks.
An SEO agency should be able to meaningfully improve ranking for high-conversion-intent keywords – and demonstrate the business impact of those ranking increases. Enterprise SEO requires agencies to orchestrate many moving parts to drive bottom-line results. Generating higher ranks for target keywords proves that the agency can win at the basics.
3. Does your Enterprise SEO agency have deep technology expertise?
Also critical to SEO success are technical factors. For this reason, you should inquire about prospective SEO agencies’ tech stack. Technologies in a large organization are very different from those in a small one.
Assess an SEO agency’s technical chops with these questions:
- Do the agency’s enterprise analytics tools integrate with your site?
- Does the agency give you real-time insights into the impact of your SEO efforts, via dashboards or reports?
- Are these analytics easy to integrate with your other reporting?
Proprietary technology can be a huge agency differentiator. Ask what technologies the agency relies on, and which of these were built in-house.
Investigate the SEO agency’s skill at optimizing content management systems, as well. Sitemap updates may need to be automated, especially for large sites like those in ecommerce. Yet even technically adept companies often lack this kind of CMS experience.
And does the agency have the bandwidth to manage the thousands of keywords that are required to drive results? Handling so many keywords requires the use of enterprise-scale tools that may have a steep learning curve.
Consider, as well, the extent to which the SEO agency uses data to infuse greater clarity into its decision-making. Agencies must be able to parse the hundreds of ranking factors that influence organic search performance and manage the thousands of data points that SEO programs generate.
The Final Word
Ultimately, you need an SEO agency that will solve for today while charting a course for continued growth in the future. Aim to find an agency that is aligned with your overall digital vision. And because an agency relationship is just that – a relationship – be sure your agency contacts are people with whom you enjoy collaborating.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced in your Enterprise SEO efforts? Let us know your thoughts here. You can learn more about our Enterprise SEO services here.