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A good and fair article on why big brands downplay SEO dealing with everything from brand politics to the sites technology. It seems that the bigger you get the harder it gets to do good SEO. What do you think?
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from GetPageOne 2318 Days ago #
Votes: 2

I don’t think it’s necessarily the brands themselves that downplay SEO. It’s the ad agencies that get paid a percentage of the PPC media buy that downplay, or downright ignore SEO. I think the brands themselves are just clueless, buying whatever latest .ppt their account exec shows them.

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from crazycat 2318 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Maybe they just want to stick to what they’re used to which are effective to them and thought they don’t have to take time with SEO.

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from ShaneEubanks 2318 Days ago #
Votes: 5

I’ll Sphinn it, but I’ll throw in my 2 cents now that I have some experience in this.<!--begin sarcasm --><!--End sarcasm-->1) IT gets in the way. The SEO guy knows what needs to happen....it’s his job...he’s worked in this stuff for years. He wants to tweak the code, do 301 & 302 redirects, URL rewriting, etc to help push the brand higher and higher in the rankings. The IT group on the other hand has a different goal. All they care about is that it works and it’s easy...plain and simple. Throw in some Sarbanes-Oxley compliance and you have a brick wall of (insert politically correct & HR approved way of saying stubborn ignorance) that is a pain in the rear to get through. It’s an uphill battle trying to explain how and why a 301 redirect is necessary when moving a website to a new domain AND all of the former URLs are moving as well. IT’s answer? Just set it up at the DNS and point all of the old URLs to the new domain’s homepage.    .....brilliant.....2) Copywriters. Ok...not all copywriters...there are a few good ones that either know what they’re doing or are willing to either listen or allow their work to be modified (gasp). Too many copywriters, though, write in marketing metaphors with way too many adverbs and big words that nobody ever ever ever (did I say ever?) searches for. Heaven forbid a big brand put something in layman’s terms that people actually know and use in their searches!There are so many other hurdles that get in the way, but those two personally drive me up the wall. It’s no wonder a small business with far less restrictions and "cooks in the kitchen" can easily outrank the big brands for popular terms. Craziness, but the internet levels the competitive playing field and makes this possible.

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from laurac 2318 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Shane, thanks for that. i replied on the post itself. Great points!

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from johnandrews 2318 Days ago #
Votes: 2

@Shane: You’ve obviously been there, thanks. As a former IT director and now an SEO to some "big brands" I completely concur. But it is doable, and I believe understanding the process and motivations is key. Not only "what Shane said" but more commonly in my experience, IT resource management is so far removed from marketing outomes that SEO gets both ignored and abused. If marketing is clever enough to get resources allocated within IT to get the job done, there is a long list of back-burner IT projects whose managers get feathers ruffled. That’s doesn’t just lead to the typical everyone else vs. marketing, but puts IT in the middle of the rifts. The wise thing to do (as IT manager) is share those new resources behind the scenes. As you can imagine, that doesn’t get the SEO job done as expected.So winning the battles doesn’t win the war, and actually decreases efficiency.The answer, especially under SarbOx, is to get the IT offloaded to the SEO via the design agency. As anyone who has worked with agencies can probably attest, that requires either a huge budget or a very very honorable agency. Now if the SEO can manage to create a win-win for marketing, IT, and the design agency... some good SEO is possible. Otherwise, it is soooo easy to just pay Google, no?

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from miketighe 2318 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@ShaneEubanks - You sir are my hero. Couldn’t have been better stated.

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from hugoguzman 2318 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Thanks for the insight Shane. I wrote a piece last week about SEO and the art of sales. Often times, the biggest impedement for Fortune 1000 companies is when either marketing or dev. stakeholders get in the way of implementation. We have some huge wins with some of the big brands that I manage, but only after we were able to infiltrate the inner circles of those key stakeholders. It often involves providing a solid business case and ROI models.Also, for clients with pitifully slow marketing and legal review processes for site-side elements, link building has been huge in terms of bridging the gap. But then again, that’s nothing new.We actually have case studies of Fortune 500 companies securing first-page rankings for extremely competitive and lucrative terms, with little or no site-side implementation.As usual, link building was key (and not even the paid kind).

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from ShaneEubanks 2318 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@johnandrewsGreat points from the IT side.  I completely agree and understand where you’re coming from as far as the amount of projects that IT deals with each and every day.  It’s a challenge to get the marketing and technology groups on the same page looking & working towards the same goal, but it can be done....it all starts at the top.  The issue with big brands is there is often a split highway of reporting structure where each group is getting direction from two completely different people.  What has to happen is you go further up the pecking order until you find a common director, vp, or even president that can get all of the wheels working together.  If one wheel is trying to go a different direction, then you obviously aren’t going to get very far.From my experience, it’s important to point out objectives that everyone can relate to.  Don’t rush in stating you want to modify code, web configs, dns entries, etc.  IT will hit the panic button and you’ll go home and bore your spouse about how they "just don’t get it".  Instead, go as high on the food chain as you can go and explain how you can take their business to the next level.....how they can increase new customers, retain current ones, get back former ones, and absolutely hammer home whatever their mission statement may be.  Get them jazzed up, but don’t explain the details to make all of that happen unless you like to see glazed eyes and yawns.  If you get the fire going at the top, then you’ll have the leverage to get IT, IS, and even the CEO’s grandchildren on board with you and your plans.It’s a win-win for everyone....it just requires a shift in thinking for just about everyone...and that shift starts with you.

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from ShaneEubanks 2318 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@hugoguzmanYou hit the nail on the head.  It’s all about a solid business case and ROI in the hands of the key players.  If you can successfully plant that seed, then you’ll be able to cultivate the interactive projects however you want. 

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from hugoguzman 2318 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@ShaneEubanks - thanks for the props! I’m now following you on Twitter.@johnandrews - I’ve been following you on Twitter for like two days but you’re not following me back (boo!). There are definitely workarounds to these impedements, and being able to overcome them is often the difference between winning and losing at the Big Brand level, but in the end, if you can build links and anchor text, you can circumvent all of those hurdles in most cases.I’ve seen it with my own two eyes, for whatever that’s worth.

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from javaun 2318 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I just commented on the blog thread...++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Most practitioners of SEO are used to dealing with small, nimble companies that can turn on a dime. As mentioned, big companies have complex IT structures, cumbersome tools or CMS systems, and many stakeholders who many be in different silos (IT, Marketing, operations, etc.). Even after they agree, implementation may be a beast. The SEO practitioner would do well to adjust their approach. Go for quick wins first. Give them something they can tout. It might take you 6 months to get more ambitious (even fundamentals) implemented, and in that time, the whole landscape may have changed. Take the long view and plan for this adaptability. For example, you might have engineering build a toolset to re-tune the basics (titles, descriptions, etc.) rather than have them implement one-off changes. Or, look at people processes rather than tools. Finally, I’ll play devil’s advocate. Of course, many big brands don’t “get” SEO. But some of them don’t need it. SEO is at the highest level a set of tactics, not a strategy. A strong brand trumps most other factors, you don’t build brands with SEO. In some cases, you may even commoditize them. There are many ways for a brand to reach new customers who have never heard of them. Long tail SEO is one, but viral, WOM, social media, or recommendations from friends are a few other arrows in the quiver.

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from hugoguzman 2317 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@javaun - while I agree with some of what you’re saying, I most definitely disagree with your statement "you don’t build brands with SEO".There are all sorts of study and anecdotal evidence that points to first-page results and their impact on brand perception.It’s why in some verticles, upstarts are beating the piss out of the old guard.

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from cam 2317 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@javaunI disagree with your statement "Of course, many big brands don’t “get” SEO. But some of them don’t need it."Surely you can go both ways with brand building and product/service building.  If a big brand company already has its name out there and is ranking high then it probably doesn’t need the SEO for the brand name itself.  Normally, if a brand name is ranking high, chances are the products/services they are selling aren’t.Don’t you know big brand or not - we all need SEO!

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from KevinCheng 2317 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Great article.  I think many big brands do understand the concept of SEO, but often there is a problem in presenting the exact ROI in a business case to the upper management who gives the green light to any SEO projects.From my experience, yes I’ve worked for a huge brand, it usually takes lots of effort to fight for the resources (dev, editorial, graphic, etc) and compete with other "real products or service" launch that could provide real bottomline.And of course there is also the problem of excessive business processes that would slow down the whole implementation.  SEO is a function that is most affected by this problem as most SEO executions required the collaboration between various work groups.

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from javaun 2317 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@hugoguzman, @camI’m an SEO guy, so obviously I see the benefits of our craft. I may have been too white/black about strong brands need for SEO.Hugo is right, users do perceive a higher quality for listings in the top spots and perceived quality is a brand attribute that will be further affected by onsite factors like usability/design. These might be the "first impression", and that’s when the brand has to deliver.However, I really want to distinguish building the brand vs. giving it visibility. I regularly use search to bring in people who’ve never heard of us and try to convert them to regulars. That grows my overall brand awareness and brand traffic, but I would only consider a small part of that to be brand building. SEO is a big megaphone and allows us to reach a lot of people, but the message (the brand) already exists.I bought a $10 battery the other day from an online company I’d never heard of. It was top 5 for what I searched on... but, it also had free shipping, and it was a cheap commodity purchase. I’ll forget the name in a week and if I ever need another battery, I’ll go with whoever is cheap and easy. There was no brand equity for me there. Even if I became a habitual buyer, product selection, service, our interactions, and reliability would have done more to drive my feelings about the brand.Startups have toppled the giants and sometimes they do grow dramatically with SEO, but there’s almost always much more to the story. Many new companies come from nowhere and topple the giants because they reinvent a space, create a market, or bring a solution to a problem people didn’t even know they had. SEO may put a new company above the giants on page 1, but the company needs to deliver a brand promise to be successful.

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from mphung 2317 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I used to do in-house SEO and here’s my #1 take-away: IT won’t "get" SEO and will have no incentive to work with you until IT’s performance goals are tied to the company’s marketing goals. As long as you are measured by SEO metrics and their performance is evaluated on network performance (etc) there’s going to be an us-versus-them mentality ... it is against their best interest to fiddle with their precious code. Once the IT department’s goals were better aligned with my goals (eg. get more pages spidered, increase organic search traffic, and then of course sales), I found the IT guys to be very receptive to my recommendations. Before that happened I might as well have been talking to a wall.

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from miketighe 2317 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@mphungBrilliant POV on that, I love it.

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from danperry 2317 Days ago #
Votes: 1

My thoughts: 1. Executive buy-in. Without it, your lost, and I mean much more than lip-service. In addition, it needs to be from multiple Executives. It’s a lot of work, and not only for the SEO guy, so there has to be dedication and resources made from the top. Anything less is bound to fail. This is where the ship hits the sand-bar.2. The nature of redesigns. There are very few companies out there that, when it comes time for a redesign, are very interested in standards and best practices. Also, if the company is signing a 6 or 7-figure design contract, they want to be "wowed". By the same token, there are very few design agencies (remember, we’re talking big brands, so we’re talking big agencies too) that consider SEO a prerequisite. Sure, the subject always comes up in kickoff meetings, but it’s just too simple for it to take a back-seat at some point in the design process. This where the ship hits the iceberg.3. IT. Sure, IT is a struggle, but it comes down to education. Deep down, I’ve always believed that everyone in the company wants to do what’s best for the company in terms of revenue, inclouding IT. If IT knew what was best, they may do it. The hard part here is teaching/selling it to them. They have to change what has always worked. They have to change what has always been considered their "best practices". Put yourself into their shoes, and go into the meeting with a lot of empathy.Big Brand In-house SEO is not doing SEO; it’s teaching everyone else (Sales, PR, IT, etc.) how to do SEO, and having them surprise the heck out of you and themselves with the results.  Once you reach the tipping point, and in-house SEO goes from trying to get IT to alter a TITLE tag, to having IT produce the TITLE tag correctly in the first place... Absolute bliss.Sorry for the mildly off-topic rant.

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