Enterprise-level brands often have complex technology stacks with integrations beyond just the website and storefront, including connections to user databases, product management, business intelligence systems, and wider marketing systems to name just a few.
While the complexity of these tech stacks involves more moving parts, they allow businesses to achieve enterprise-level scalability and consistency, too.
It’s commonplace for an enterprise tech stack to consist of a Content Management System (CMS), a Content Delivery Network (CDN), and a Digital Asset Management (DAM). In this column, we’ll explore what a DAM is, how it is used, and why it matters to your enterprise SEO strategy.
The difference between a CDN and a DAM is quite subtle, so let’s start there.
What’s the Difference Between a CDN and a DAM?
For some businesses, combining a CDN and a DAM isn’t necessary, as optimizations like Cloudflare’s Polish and Imperva’s Smart Caching can provide the necessary levels of Front End Optimization (FEO) required.
CDNs deliver static files for optimal load times and faster response time, while DAMs are usually utilized to store and manage the data behind a product or service (such as images, videos, and PDFs).
Some CMS systems, such as WordPress, have a media manager built-in from which a webmaster can edit metadata and apply optimizations from a central source.
A DAM allows businesses to do similar but on a much larger scale, and not only for asset use on the website.
The DAM marketplace is competitive, with a number of all-rounder solutions as well as those designed for specific platforms such as Salesforce Commerce Cloud, SAP Hybris, and Oracle – these all being enterprise-level ecommerce platforms.
Ecommerce and retail businesses can generally benefit the most from DAMs, as they have large product portfolios and the need for consistent, high-quality product imagery across all collaterals (online and offline).
On the face of it, using a DAM enables a business to control:
- Asset suitability and ensuring that out-of-date materials are removed from use.
- Marketing team access only to media that the business owns licenses for, which may not sound important until you consider that Google recently removed its 5 billionth URL from search for copyright infringements.
- Ensuring the correct media files are being used by the correct internal (and external) teams.
How Digital Asset Management Supports Enterprise SEO
So, how can a DAM benefit enterprise websites and their SEO performance? Here are four important ways:
1. Lossless Image Compression
Much like CDNs, most modern DAMs offer the ability to losslessly compress images.
Lossless image compression is the practice of reducing an image’s file size significantly without impacting the image’s quality, thus reducing the file size needing to be transferred when a webpage loads.
It’s just one element of successful image optimization for search and user experience.
The ability for DAMs to perform these optimizations on the fly is ever-increasing through machine learning, as demonstrated in a joint study from the University of Cambridge and University College London into improving recognition of image quality.
Typically, lossless compression is done by a third-party tool that removes unnecessary metadata from the image file.
However, a benefit of the DAM system is that image metadata can be inputted and managed from a central location.
This means that your DAM administrators need to be aware of the website’s needs from an SEO speed perspective, and configured to help accommodate.
2. Image Dimension Optimizations
When we look at image optimization, we initially focus on the file size of the image and how that affects load speed.
But for ecommerce websites – where product imagery is the primary focus – and in the luxury sector, high-quality imagery is essential.
A DAM serving images can help shorten the time it takes for a page to become fully rendered.
The difference between document complete and fully rendered is that at document complete a user can, in theory, navigate and use the page functionally.
At fully rendered, all assets and visuals have rendered on the page.
This can be negatively impacted by dynamically resizing images on the fly so they’re appropriate for the user’s device.
Some website CMSs get around this by having the admin upload images in different sizes that are loaded independently when the user’s viewport size is detected.
This is a tedious time-sink to recreate enough image variations (desktop, tablet, mobile).
Most DAM systems can automate this process, and automatically resize the image dimensions (and file size) to the user’s viewport.
Through advancing AI, the majority of DAMs can also detect the focal point of the image so that when it’s cropped it still works and communicates the right message.
3. Metadata & Renaming Files
When we look at optimizing our images for SEO, we typically recommend:
- Optimizing image file names so that they are descriptive.
- Including image captions.
- Providing an image ALT description.
Doing this at scale across a large product catalog, and multiple times (if you’re uploading different image size variations manually) isn’t a good use of time.
Most DAMs have developed to the point they can automatically rewrite product file names and metadata such as alternative text and captions.
This is especially useful when a large number of the images may be product variations or configurable.
Being able to scale metadata in such a way for images will help Google (and other search engines) in both processing and better understanding the image content.
This can improve the prominence of your imagery both in image search, and within special content result blocks such as Featured Snippets, Rich Cards, and Knowledge Panels.
4. Asset Protection
Imagery is extremely important in ecommerce and luxury verticals, and businesses will invest in product imagery to make sure products look their best.
This is not only to improve the initial conversion rate but to also allow the user to best judge if the product can meet their needs, theoretically reducing potential returns.
In most digital asset management systems, you can automate watermarking on images, videos, and PDFs.
This can be extremely important in helping deter bad actors from imitating your client’s brand or falsely claiming to stock products with the goal of deceiving users with fake deals.
This is more common with expensive, luxury brands. A good example of this issue being tackled in the real-world is Barbour, which actively works to try and educate their audience on identifying both counterfeit products and fake stockists.
Digital Asset Management & Page Experience Update
Digital asset management will only increase in importance for enterprise SEO as Google continues to prioritize page speed and user experience.
Optimizing asset loading will be a key aspect of your brand’s strategy to achieve optimal Core Web Vitals performance this year and in the future.