When you have a big site, you need to spend time, money, resources etc. Large companies with different teams have trouble training and practicing SEO. The speakers discussed how important it is to understand where SEO fits in the process.
Dan Perry, Director of SEO, Turner Broadcasting
Catfish Comstock, Senior Search Strategist, BusinessOnLine
Melanie Mitchell, SVP of Search Strategy, Digitas
Derrick Wheeler, Senior Search Engine Optmization Architect, Microsoft
Four different ways to do SEO for a mega site like catalogs.com.
- Create original content
- Find non traditional ways to bring links – A good way to do this is by posting on company blog. Hire bloggers to add content on our website. Make content funny, interesting and enticing. This brings in a lot of links. Do press releases; this is a good way to get linked.
- Entice both sites and visitors with contests, awards, etc
- Conduct site testing and share with transparency by making your results public.
Use size of your site to your advantage by maximizing internal linking benefits. The primary focus is site architecture. Sites where there are a millions of pages, needs a process in place. Every step needs to be defined. Whether it’s a new or existing site, it is important to understand the goals.
Technical challenges that affect search engines indexing:
- Complex CMS systems – Avoid 302 redirects. Use 301 redirects. 404 pages should be directed to 301 redirects.
- Use rel=canonical for duplicate content
- Bad URL architecture that creates duplicate URL’s. (Use Google webmaster tools for specifying parameters that can be excluded)
On page and off page optimization is important for Mega sites. For on page optimization, use long tail keywords wherever possible. For off page optimization, evaluate partner’s links, blog and leverage social media. It is important to compare the keyword map of your current rankings to note disparities. Sometimes keywords that rank at # 1 are not necessarily what you want to rank for.
Optimization Recommendations for a Mega Site:
- Keyword research – create a spreadsheet for your keywords. Separate keywords into groups for conversion analysis.
- Measure long tail success
- Focus on categories and build content for important categories
- Have clean and Descriptive URL’s. Manage meta content through CMS system
- Internal Linking is very important for overall ranking
- Notice seasonal trends
- Track micro conversions and have a well defined conversion funnel
- Understand Analytics –alter your title tags and see if that makes a difference.
- Do a good competitive analysis
- Have a usability expert review the information architecture
Derreck from Microsoft.com spoke about The Microsoft.com Megasite that has 1.2 billion URLs and is comprised of thousands of web sites. All the websites within Microsoft.com are managed individually and are published using different content management systems.
Microsoft Presentation highlights:
- Content is NOT king. Structure is!
- Developing an overall SEO approach on how the organization works?
- Define business objective and metrics as the first thing and then implement your measurement plan
- Don’t be afraid to say NO to low-priority projects.
- Teach others to advocate for SEO in every meeting. Any page linking to your website or on your site has an impact on your website
One of the big challenges is dealing with legacy code. There are also other things that need to be dealt with:
- Duplicate and undesirable pages
- Multiple redirects.
- Improper error handling (error handling on 404s or 500s)
In summary, structure and internal processes are areas to focus on for Mega Site SEO.
Contributed by Ritika Chugh