In your SEO career, there may come a time when you feel you’re doing a lot more coasting than you once did.
What made you start thinking that?
Was it optimizing your 600th local client and realizing it wasn’t that challenging anymore?
Or maybe you feel that your freelance business or agency has grown, hired, and matured to a point where you are no longer exercising your full potential.
If that’s you, then it just may be time to move upstream.
It might be time to move from traditional to enterprise SEO.
This is not a light decision by any means. It’s challenging stuff, to put it bluntly.
You had better have the staff, the skills, the sales ability, and the confidence in place to go out there and present yourself as a search optimizer for some of the largest brands on the Internet.
But let’s back up for a minute on that.
As I said, transitioning into enterprise SEO is a huge decision.
How will you know it’s really the right time for you?
Let me share some benchmarks you should be looking for to determine it’s time to shift your strategy upward.
But first, let’s be clear about the SEO differences that I’m discussing.
How Is Enterprise SEO Different?
Enterprise SEO strategies differ from traditional SEO primarily in their size and scale.
Whatever you do for a small SEO client, you do bigger for an enterprise client.
That’s painting enterprise SEO in pretty broad strokes, but for the most part, it proves true.
Let’s unpack this idea.
Say, for a traditional SEO account, you and your team need to crawl and optimize 200 URLs.
Depending on the size of your team, that isn’t too bad.
You’ll see what Screaming Frog has to show about the site and then divide up the work among your staff and get it done.
Think about an enterprise-level website, though.
How many URLs does it have?
The Challenges of Scale
If we hold to the idea that enterprise SEO is traditional SEO but larger, then those one million pages need the same SEO optimizations that a website of 100 pages would.
The difference will be in having the staff to implement them, knowing the site infrastructure well enough not to cause other site issues when you implement, and working with the client’s in-house SEO team to ensure everything goes smoothly.
For instance, I have worked in small Shopify stores where the theme caused category and collection pages to duplicate title tags.
When this happens on an ecommerce website of more than a million pages, you need a solution right away, whether that’s related to adding canonical tags or different custom coding.
That’s just how it rolls in enterprise SEO.
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Reporting & Communicating at the Enterprise Level
On that last point, you can also expect many more check-ins from your enterprise clients than your smaller accounts.
The healthier retainers you can charge for large-scale SEO work come at the cost of providing your clients with more regular progress reports.
Say you need to implement a smart internal linking strategy on a 600,000-page ecommerce website.
You know it’s a colossal undertaking, and so does your client.
All they ask is that you update them with the work you’ve done over the last two weeks.
Be sure you have the staff to deliver that ongoing workflow and the ability to prove it biweekly.
Enterprise SEO, then, presents SEO agencies with issues of operations, staffing, morale, organization, time management, and reporting.
You have to think about how you approach all of these things before fully committing yourself to the enterprise route.
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So, how will you know it’s time to move from traditional SEO to enterprise SEO?
1. When You Can Handle The Page Volume
You’ll know you can transition to enterprise SEO when you can handle a significantly increased volume of pages to optimize.
As you can imagine, fixing duplicate title tags, meta descriptions, H1s, and content on a local lawyer’s website is quite different from doing it for the number two or three online shoe retailer in the country.
And I’m not just talking about having knowledgeable personnel to do the work physically.
If you’re scaling up, there is also the issue of the automation tools you’ll probably need to upgrade to crawl everything.
That’s because, depending on the size of the client, you’ll need to be able to track 10,000 keywords rather than 5,000 and run more site audits every month.
If you look at pricing for those upper plans and determine you can afford them based on what you’ll be making, you may be in a good spot to make the changeover.
2. When Your Agency Is Mature Enough
The next benchmark to meet if you want to take on enterprise SEO clients is to be a mature agency.
Now, I mean that in both ways – that of acting mature and having developed efficient and effective work processes.
Let’s focus on the latter one.
To say that a company is mature is to say that it has all its pieces in place to continue growing at a steady pace and become a real heavy hitter in its industry.
If your agency came out of the startup phase, you might remember how things were different.
You probably had a skeleton crew with more than enough work to handle.
Your processes from day to day might have been pretty scattered, with no preferred practices explicitly defined or followed.
You got things done, but maybe only after working 60 or more hours a week.
Mature companies have moved beyond that, though.
They have stabilized and accrued enough retained earnings to hire managers and teams and define processes for everything.
Everyone is doing what they are best at.
The company can forecast its finances and reasonably meet them in the time set.
And, perhaps most importantly, the staff at a mature company wants to be at the office (or home computer) every single day, doing this work, using their skills to satisfy and impress the company’s clients.
That can only come from client-focused and forward-thinking messaging from the top leadership.
That’s the type of environment where enterprise-level SEO success may happen.
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3. When You Have The Organizational Structure
You’ll know you’re ready to move into enterprise SEO when you have the organizational structure to handle the biggest clients.
I don’t just mean the number of bodies you have in seats.
That’s absolutely crucial, but whether you have 60 employees or 80 doesn’t matter as much to me as making sure every one of those employees is in the right seat and has subscribed to the overall company vision.
Everyone at your company should be doing what they are best at and following the goals set by the team leads and the executive management.
Since we are talking about team leads – middle managers, if you like – the best things they can do for the members of their teams are to:
- define goals clearly,
- empower them to help themselves,
- encourage their success,
- let them know they care about them,
- and always be there to help when necessary.
When employees feel appreciated and valued as a part of the overall undertaking, they tend to be happier in their roles.
And employees happy in their roles are more likely to be all-in on the company’s mission statement and give their best to delivering the best-darned enterprise SEO product on the planet.
4. When You Have The Revenue To Cover Further Growth Periods
Finally, let’s talk about revenue and how you’ll need it to grow into the enterprise SEO agency you want.
Say you’re a small to mid-sized SEO agency that wants to get into the enterprise game.
That period where you position yourself as an entity that can handle the big fish will probably have some bumps.
It won’t happen overnight, and while your sales team or subject-matter experts are working on closing leads, you will need more short-term gains to finance the comparative slowness of your enterprise growth.
But don’t minimize the importance of that other revenue.
Breaking into a new game takes time.
If you drop everything to focus on landing one or two big clients, you’re not going to have the resources to do anything that I have laid out here; certainly not to hire and grow your teams and processes.
While signing new clients will matter during this time, your top leadership should also be concerned with keeping attrition, or churn, to a relatively survivable 3% to 5%.
Hey, you’ve heard it for years: Retaining clients is as important as signing new ones, and it rings true here.
You’ve seen how much planning, work, and coordination are involved in executing enterprise SEO strategies for your clients.
You can’t afford to jeopardize any of your past successes now.
Define the vision and processes that will lead your client services managers to show real value to your clients, and they will want to stay with you for the duration.
See Through The Bumps In The Road
You probably already know that plans are one thing; doing what you planned is entirely different.
You’re going to hit some bumps in the road to becoming an enterprise SEO guru.
But I feel that you will know when it’s time to make the attempt.
It will probably be when you hit the benchmarks I laid out above.
The future is open and waiting for you to arrive.
All you need to do is take that first step.
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Featured Image: Alexander Supertramp/Shutterstock