Search engine optimization isn’t what it used to be. Once the
dominion of the marketing department and a few technical
staffers, SEO now requires full participation from nearly
every corner of the enterprise — from customer support personnel
to social media teams, all the way up to the C-Suite.
But few chief executives or their fellow chiefs in tech,
marketing, operations or finance may understand how a
brand’s SEO strategy impacts the bottom line and even their
own day-to-day tasks. While it is certainly possible for a
company to exist with poor SEO practices (search engines
rely heavily on brand signals which can cover up many of
the most egregious mistakes), having the C-Suite audit a
corporate website can prove helpful. And aligning current
SEO best practices with business objectives will reveal that
a thriving online presence is all but guaranteed — even for
the most competitive industries.
The objective of an on-site SEO audit by the C-Suite is
to indirectly identify points of interest from a corporate
perspective that may be impacting effectiveness and efficiency
down the corporate hierarchy, ultimately leading
to poor performance as it relates to search engine visibility.
Points of consideration should address accessibility
and structure, relevance and targeting, and quality of both
content and design.
Conversion funnels, the paths established to direct users to
an action (e.g. registration, purchase, download), should be
the primary focus of the audit of site accessibility and structure.
The aim in this phase is to remove the barriers that prevent
search engines and users from accessing content and
ultimately completing the developed conversion task.
The procedure to determine if a site is “accessible” and
its structure conducive to completing tasks such as registration,
starts by examining something as basic as whether
the links to individual pages are active or if they result in
a 404 error.
Search engine optimization software provider WebCEO
conducted an SEO audit of the websites of Fortune 100 companies
and found that, on average, every second index page
had a broken link. Within two website levels, the average
number of broken links was 30 per company. If search engines
and users are unable to find content on a website, the
site has little chance of being indexed in the search return
lists. Using SEO software solutions, or at least requesting reports
on key SEO factors such as broken links, will hold specific
teams and divisions accountable and ensure that users
will continue to flow through conversion funnels and won’t
negatively impact the brand or bottom line.
Keyword Relevance & Targeting
While it is obviously important to make sure that visitors
can access the website and find its content by ensuring, for
example, that there are no broken links, the C-Suite and its
teams of executives also need to analyze and audit what is
found when visitors do arrive. The focus, therefore, should
be on keywords and phrases — the virtual blood that
courses through the veins of the Internet.
What needs to be answered in an audit of keyword relevance
and targeting is how the pages being optimized accommodate
the search terms and phrases in use by
prospective visitors and how they relate to an organization’s
specific objectives. For the most part, keywords can be separated
into three distinct types — navigational, informational
Navigational queries tend to be brand specific (e.g.
“Facebook login” or “Fedex package tracking”). It is
highly likely for most companies that some percentage of
their traffic will originate from these query types. Informational
and transactional queries, however, are what
drive new business and sales and should be what are audited
and monitored most aggressively.
Informational queries are those which aim to uncover
specific information. Keyword modifiers such as “tips”,
“how-to”, and “list” are just some examples. These query
types lead consumers deeper into the site and support both
awareness and a sense of trustworthiness. If it is information
that your website visitors want, it is information they shall
have — so answer their questions and you’ll earn some
friends and customers along the way. One valuable resource
to understand the types of questions site visitors ask through
search engines is WordTracker’s Keyword Questions feature
The SEO-aware C-Suite also needs to analyze whether
the keyword choices on landing pages are helping fulfill the
ultimate aim — transactions and conversion. Understanding
which terms and phrases have commercial intent can
make the difference between high and low visibility on the
search results pages, as well as determining a Web property’s
ability to generate revenue. It is difficult to identify which
keywords have the most commercial intent, but visitors typically
tend to use “long tail” keyword phrases to help fulfill
their immediate needs.
Content & Design Quality
An interesting research study was released by About.com in
September 2011, revealing that users searching on the Internet
exhibit three distinct human behavior search
patterns: “Answer Me”, “Educate Me” and “Inspire Me”.
People in an “Answer Me” moment (46 percent of all
searches) want exactly what they ask for, delivered in a
way that allows them to get to it as directly as possible.
Marketers should feature product benefits front and center
and align content in a way that presents quick, easyto-
find answers. For the “Educate Me” search mindset (26
percent of all searches), marketers should aim to create
messaging that is informative and provide ways for users
to learn more about topics from multiple angles, aligning
content that presents in-depth information and resources.
Finally, for the “Inspire Me” search mindset (28 percent of
all searches), marketers should develop content that inspires
creativity and offers endless choices. These users
have an open mind and want to be led, so expect them to
consume content in multiple formats.
People’s behaviors, needs and preferences in the offline
world drive their behaviors and preferences online. Understanding
how human behavior affects patterns in search behaviors
can help marketers know and connect with the
people who use their products. The right formula for your
brand is critical to reaching your consumers in a relevant way.
Search engine optimization in the enterprise requires
more oversight from the C-Suite. Auditing the general accessibility
of a website, the relevance of keywords to the
landing pages and the quality of both content and design is
fundamental to today’s enterprises looking to capitalize on
search engine traffic.