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Large Scale SEO

02.18.12 // Mike Nierengarten
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Obility would like to welcome Kurtis Alward as a guest blogger.  Kurt is a freelance SEM consultant who helps Mike with client projects and acts as a sounding board for our hero.

The process of implementing search engine optimization (SEO) for a large website isn’t drastically different than it is for a smaller site.  The main idea is the same – update the backend coding to current best practice standards, generate new, unique content and continue growing inbound links naturally.  The issue, however, for large websites generally stems from the resources needed to accomplish site-wide improvement: the abilities to maintain ongoing SEO strategy and consistently create new content.

Search engine optimization, at its foundation, makes content easily accessible for people and search engines.  To achieve success, SEOs and web developers implement specific site-wide changes to individual pages or to the content management system (CMS).  These changes target specific elements of the website’s DNA (the heading and URL structure, image attributes, Meta data, etc.) and is aimed to heighten keyword relevance for each page or particular element of the webpage.

Although there are dozens of unknown factors that make up the search engines’ algorithms, the most influential elements have been identified and are being implemented on thousands of websites, large and small.  All it takes is some careful coding and proper content layout and you’re up to code.  This can be accomplished manually or by using one of the hundreds of free CMS’s on the market, which makes it much, much easier to have an “SEO friendly” website out-of-the-box.

These modern CMS’s have made it extremely easy (and cheap) to launch an SEO-ready website, same-day, for businesses large or small.  Still, utilizing a CMS is small potatoes – your casual blogger has this down.  CMS’s only provide you with a clean-slate or sound-foundation to begin the real tactics that drive successful SEO strategies and marketing campaigns.

The next crucial phase of large-scale SEO is to understand what pages can actually rank, properly target keywords for each potential ranking page and establish a site hierarchy that emphasizes these pages.  There are other on-site factors such as interlinking within a domain or “owned” web properties, but there is also the off-site marketing aspect that is needed to generate interest, pageviews and inbound links from other domains.

External linking is where larger sites need to thrive in order to stand toe-to-toe with their (similarly) large-scaled competitors.  A small site has the advantage of creating less content or strategy to achieve larger gains in results.  Smaller sites typically have less keywords to target, and so they can focus all their efforts on a small set of keywords to outperform their rivals.  Larger sites, however, have to compete with media giants, stronger competitors, more keywords and larger content producers who publish thousands of pieces of content on a daily basis.

This means that in order to succeed or receive that same boost past their competitors, they have to spend more resources on ongoing SEO strategy and content syndication efforts.  Their content creation and link bait strategies differ drastically when compared to small or medium-sized websites.  Large sites need to focus on producing valuable, interesting content on a more frequent basis and distribute it to a larger audience in order to succeed.  Having 10 people link to their content piece or webpage no longer has a large effect on their link strength or rankings.  They now need 100 or 1,000 links to see any sort of noticeable boost.  The ratios change with size and competition.

For the most part, companies will naturally grow their marketing departments or budgets to handle the new demands needed to achieve continued success in digital marketing.  This is a key step that should never be overlooked as a company grows over time.  Demand is increasing and so must the effort put forth to maintain a proper SEO strategy.  If the effort remains on a small scale you’ll begin to see a plateau of rankings, visits, etc. as the natural curve of success flattens.  Remember, growth is a good thing.

So what have we concluded?

Well we’ve established that the large-scale SEO isn’t drastically different from regular or small-scale SEO, but rather the process of maintaining and optimizing a large site is a bigger beast.  It takes a large website more time, effort and content creation to achieve a jump in rankings when compared to a smaller website.  Larger websites demand more attention and a larger SEO strategy.  So if your site is growing and competition is clipping at your heels, be prepared to sink the extra time, effort and capital to maintain your strategy and focus; you’ll need it.

About Mike Nierengarten

Mike has been in online marketing since 2004 and started Obility in February of 2011. Mike is a numbers geek who feels more comfortable staring at Excel spreadsheets & AdWords Editor than sitting in lengthy meetings. Mike saw Obility as an opportunity to rethink SEM management and focus solely on the unique needs of B2B clients. Mike enjoys board sports, exploring restaurants, and lively discussions about the economy. He is also a passionate traveler. His long-term goals focus on spurring economic growth and addressing inequality in the Portland community. View all Mike Nierengarten’s posts >

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