We’ve had the pleasure of working with companies of all shapes and sizes over the past 16 years. Because of this, we’ve learned that there are very distinct differences between driving traffic to a website and measuring success.

For smaller companies and local businesses, traffic alone is often enough to warrant a celebration and a well-deserved pat on the back. However, as you begin working with mid-scale and enterprise corporations, it gets a little trickier.

Enterprise-level companies tend to use SEO for brand awareness more than for direct leads or sales, while local companies primarily benefit from the latter.

Also, enterprise content tends to be written for influencers and advocates, who then bring the product or service to the decision-maker and plead its case. Small-business and local business content is more often aimed directly at the decision-maker.

What You Should Know About Enterprise-Level SEO

There are complicated business models and multi-layered streams of traffic that make it much more difficult to prove exactly what you were responsible for and what is due to teams of marketing people who work internally—and who you’ve likely never met.

While it’s true that on-page SEO principles apply regardless of the size of a website, it’s important to identify low-hanging fruit and make early wins when it comes to enterprise-level SEO needs.

Standing out early among your contacts and having the aforementioned staff assigned to promote the website (aka “the rest of the cooks in the kitchen”) will help everyone believe that you actually know what you’re talking about. It will make users more likely to listen when you demand to be included in their internal meetings so you can make sure all marketing efforts are aligned and there is no rogue SEO taking place in faraway silos.

Plan Ahead

It usually takes much longer to get approval or buy-in from key enterprise-level decision-makers before you can actually implement a strategy. That’s due to no fault of their own, but unlike with small businesses or local companies, you’re dealing with multiple decision-makers: marketing managers, board members, chief officers, outside advisors, and whoever else those people turn to for approval. So the sooner you prove your value and earn their confidence, the better.

This is why creating early wins and providing aha moments matter—and they help in the long term, too.

Explain. Educate. Show.

The best way I’ve found to make this happen is through educating the client on exactly how their website is performing and how current visitors behave on their site.

When it comes to traffic, I focus on organic visits only (non-paid search traffic) and share which pages drive the most traffic, which pages convert the most traffic, and, equally, which pages provide the least of each. This is best done through a live screenshare or with screenshots directly from Google Analytics and SEMrush, which is the only paid SEO tool I recommend.

For behavior information, I focus on current user flows to highlight the order in which visitors are viewing pages. I follow this with a heatmap and a live video recording of users on the website, so we can see how people are behaving: where they click, where they seem confused, how far they scroll, and so on. My favorite tool for this is Hotjar—it does it all.

The other key area for education is making it known that your personal insight and industry experience is more valuable than an automated solution. Many enterprise companies are too quick to buy into automation tools like Bright Edge, Marin Software, ReachLocal, Yext, Marketo, and Search Metrics.

These tools are fine for providing raw-number data, but without an experienced [human] SEO Specialist, clients will lack takeaways and actionable follow-up recommendations for improving conversions—that is, for generating more leads.

This is a conversation you need to be able to clearly explain without sounding defensive. If an automated solution does work, then go for it; they’ll appreciate your honesty.

What Have You learned About Working with Enterprise-Level Companies?

  • Gain trust early on. Provide early wins and aha moments.
  • Establish who the decision-makers are (and who are just opinion-makers).
  • Back up your suggestions through education.
  • Plan ahead. Have a solid vision of your strategy, tactics, and desired results.
  • Define how you will collaborate with their internal team to assure efforts are aligned.
  • Understand the company’s dynamics in order to successfully maneuver through red tape.

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