Are you a successful SEO that works for small or medium-sized businesses? Would you like to work for an enterprise but are you a little scared of enterprise SEO versus what you're currently doing?
Today we're gonna be discussing five things you need to know if you want to move into enterprise SEO with a man who's worked in-house and with digital agencies in Argentina, the Netherlands, and Ireland. He currently works at the number one job site in the world overseeing over 250 million unique visitors every month. A warm welcome to the In Search SEO podcast, SEO product manager at indeed.com, Gus Pelogia.
In this episode, Gus shares five things you must know to be successful at enterprise SEO, including:
How to pitch
Test and document everything
Meet everyone you can
Find ways to do things at scale
Gus: Hi, everyone. Hi, David. Thank you for inviting me to this podcast. And let's talk about enterprise SEO.
D: Let's go for it. Great to have you on, Gus. You can find Gus over at gpelogia on LinkedIn. So Gus, how different is enterprise SEO from doing SEO for a relatively small business?
G: I've been in the enterprise world for around five months now. I've been SEO for more than 10 years, but the enterprise universe is very new to me. Of course, it brings a lot of the knowledge that you already have. But there are things that are very different from everything that I've done before. And I think the main difference that I feel over these first five months, is that I don't feel that I'm carrying everything on my shoulders.
When you work for a smaller company or when you are the only person on an account or in-house, if something's not going on the pace that people want, everything just falls into you. And, as we know, SEO is quite interdisciplinary. You need some help from a developer, you need some help from a designer, and so on. But if you're doing everything on your own, from time to time I would find myself calling favors and hoping someone that has a different OKR or KPI to find time to help me on things.
And now I sit in a place where I have a team of engineers. I have a team of UX people. I have several writers that are specialized in the job-seeking employment world. I feel like I have all the resources that I need. I'm not really calling favors anymore. I’m rather just collaborating with people that also have similar goals that I have.
D: Yeah, I think that even if you don't want to end up being an enterprise SEO for decades, I think it's still a good set of experiences that you can gain by being in a large SEO team working for a single company, compared with working in an agency or compared with working in a smaller business. To your point about not everything being on your own shoulders, that must be appealing to people as well, because I'm sure every SEO who's worked in a small business has been a little bit scared when they've woken up one morning and suddenly found all the rankings tanked and thinking, "Oh, no. What do I have to do here?” And it's just them that is responsible for finding out what the issue is and how to actually repair everything.
Today you're sharing five things you need to know if you want to move into enterprise SEO. Starting off with number one, how to pitch.
1. How to Pitch
G: Yeah, so even though I've only been at Indeed for five months, I started on the SEO content team, and then I was offered a position as a product manager within SEO. So I found myself taking initiatives that I have to run with engineers, and also getting into that state of needing to know what the big bets we're going to have over the next few months. I needed to do a lot of research here and find things that are interesting and things that will involve a lot of different teams. And if I want to get those things moving forward is different from before where if we wanted to write about 10 topics so we’ll move those keywords or topics to a different team and they'll write it.
Now I have to do things that will involve a few different things. Back in the days working in an agency pitching to get a new client, I'll put a few slides together but the conversation goes by the flow of the slides that you're selling them. Now, I create very long Word documents explaining what has to be done. This is what has been done in the past and this is why we're not doing well. And I have to dig into a lot of metrics and a lot of numbers. And even before this is ready to go, I’m meeting people from different teams and hearing their opinions. And trying to get buy-in while things are still in the research phase. So I have a few no-big bets for now until the end of the year. And instead of having 10-20 slides about why we should do them, I have 5-10 page documents, explaining what we want to do, this is how it's going to work, those are the things that will be involved, and so on.
So the conversation goes on a different way. I have managers of my managers jumping on this document and saying I don't believe in this, or how are we going to measure this. So you'll get a different type of feedback because you're not just moving forward with an idea. But you're going to take time off a lot of different people, which it might just be because it's newer to me but I find that a lot more interesting to actually put this together instead of spending time on slides. This is also interesting but you might sometimes spend more time making these slides pretty than actually telling the story that you want to tell to get buy-in.
D: I presume that you're pitching to top-level executives in the marketing departments, or perhaps even top-level executives who aren't even actively working in the marketing departments on a day-to-day basis. What sort of metrics are wrong to include as part of an SEO pitch deck when you're trying to appeal to people who may not necessarily understand every intricacy of SEO?
G: Yeah, so at the moment I'm pitching different things within my product. I'm pitching to engineers, the UX team, to content quality teams, etc.. And you're right, they don't live inside of SEO so they don't know the details of pages that are crawled or indexed or position of internal linking and those different things, because that's not what they do so it doesn't matter for them that much. But I'm always going back to the top-level goals. So at the start of the year, that has been defined that we need this amount of traffic or we need this amount of account creations. So all the teams are working together towards the same goal. As you said, I need to put together estimations of how much we can get based on this or based on that.
D: Great piece of advice. I love that because the marketing department as a whole, the business as a whole, will have these top-level goals that they want to achieve. And if you're not aligned to that, then that's going to be a straight no, I guess.
G: Exactly. Internally at Indeed, we have our own analytics platform and you can query a lot of different things. So even if I'm still in a pitching phase for something new that I want to develop, I can already share a link for that analytics page or for that query to say this is how we're going to track it. So someone from a different department, or my boss, can come back in three-six months, and see how the project is going. And it's a platform that everybody's familiar with within the company. So you don't have this thing where SEOs are using this tracking tool or Search Console and the other teams are using something else that calculates things in a slightly different way. And you have those conversations where people are not talking the same language but because we all use the same software or the same source of truth, and those things move a bit faster.
D: And number two is business acumen. What are we specifically talking about?
2. Business Acumen
G: I think there are a few interesting things about this. And that's something that I've tried to do before, but it didn't work as well, but it's working now. I'll give you an example. When I joined [Indeed], there was a project or a motion to do a certain thing. And as I started learning about the SEO pitch for the project, I realized that there were three different teams trying to get into the same place. They were classifying things in different ways but the final goal was always the same. So I took over the idea that was already happening in the SEO universe.
And on my first week as a product manager, someone from this other team comes to me and already wants to have a meeting with me. And I'm like, well, I just started, I'm still getting used to things. And then I realized that what she was doing was she was pitching to me her view of the project. It took me a couple of days to realize that she was advocating for her view on this. But I thought it was very smart for her as this new guy comes in to first build that relationship, and second, show how this idea can bring us further. It wasn't too hard to realize that the view she had was a lot better than the other ones that we had, even the SEO one. So do I want to fight on the project and say that SEO is driving this? Or do I want to join a project that is a lot more sustainable, scalable, and that is a clear winner? So that's what we did.
This is where business intelligence comes in. You might realize over time, or in certain situations, that it's better for someone else to lead a project and you can still give your SEO input. But SEO might not always be the best thing to solve something.
D: And number three is to test and document everything. What are one or two key elements that SEOs typically don't document enough? And also, what procedure do you recommend in terms of going about documenting it? What software do you use? How do you go about doing it?
3. Test and Document Everything
G: We have our own internal tools for some of these, which are not relevant for everyone. But I would always look for a central place. So let's say if you use Google Analytics, you can even share the specific Google Analytics page. Because some people will go to general sources and some people will sort by segments, or you have another internal tool that looks at trials or different things. It can tell many different stories depending on the source that you're looking at. So you need to first find the source that has the best source of truth. I worked in cases where I would look at Google Analytics and say trials are up but the engineers are looking at an internal tool they built and that's a source of truth. So I could tell as much as I wanted about Google Analytics, but it will not be a winner. I could say that things are great here, but it wouldn't work.
One thing that my team and I track really well is internal linking. The places we're using internal linking, or new things that we’re trying, that is always tracked really well. Changes to pages, like trying new page titles, or trying new modules on different things, everything is tracked in one way or another. And that's tracking that everybody's familiar with. I don't have a UTM tagging that a different team doesn't use. We all use the same tools to analyze those things. So even if I pick a project that a different team was working on, I can look at the tagging they did when they did it and what they're trying to achieve. I can even adjust the query in a certain way to look at it from a different angle. But essentially, we use the same tool to measure things. And the thing that I mentioned quite a lot now is the power of internal links. The different places that you put in and numbers and so on.
D: When you say measuring the power of internal links, what are you measuring it against? Are you measuring them against specific target rankings for target keyword phrases on different pages and the impact that an internal link has on that?
G: Yeah, pretty much. Do you want to see if pages that you're adding more links are getting their own index quicker? Do they improve in rankings or do they improve in traffic? Are we testing different things on a page? Essentially the reason behind tracking is as you would expect from SEO, to see if we are getting more traffic. But what I love that we do is that everything's tracked. We are changing page titles, we are adding videos to a page to see if people stay longer on a page. I can quickly do a query and know that all of these videos, all of these pages in these countries have videos, or all of these pages in these countries have two different titles. Or even deeper, do these pages have a specific CTA or a different one and things like that?
D: And number four is to meet everyone you can. Does that apply to working from home as well?
4. Meet Everyone You Can
G: Yeah, this is relevant in any company, even if it's a small company. I have a good example from last week. I wanted to meet a UX team lead and I didn't have anything to talk about specifically. I didn't have a project or initiative that I was trying to convince him to get on board or to get excited about. I saw that he lived in Amsterdam for a couple of years, and I lived there as well. So you want to bond with the person and understand who's the person behind all those tickets that you're creating. As he gave me an example of a well-done ticket I realized that this is something that I had in mind to actually do in a couple of months from now and it's already happening.
Things that are relevant to SEO or, in this case, they're also relevant to the user landing on the page, those things were already in development. So I might want to move other ideas that I have as part of this project, if this piece is already moving, I can just add something new to it. Let's say if I have bigger projects on UX, we want to add how long it takes to read this article. We are making user changes on this page so we want to make this page easier for people to read. If this piece was in my mind, but they're already doing something else related to this, I could just create a few more tickets and turn this into a bigger project. But because things are already in motion, I already know that maybe part of the hard sell already happened. So I can just jump in and join this instead of maybe in three months having to start all over with another pitch document and see what happens.
D: And number five, find ways to do things at scale. What is an example of that?
5. Find Ways to do Things at Scale
G: Simple things. You want to update page titles. Back in the day, for me, I would just always manually go and update it. Unless, if you just want to add, let’s say, indeed.com, at the end of every page. That's easy. But if I want to test five different templates for titles, now I know that I don't need to manually update all of them. I know that this can be done by an engineer. Or simple things like adding a list of tags on your keywords. That's something that SEO tools allow you to do.
I have just one more example that I would like to share on doing things at scale which is something as simple as page titles. If you just want to add, let's say your brand, at the end of all page titles, that's something very simple and easy to do. But if you want to test 10 different templates for titles, you want to see how people react to seeing the number of jobs on the page title, or if put something like "Buy Now” or something like this, but you want to try different styles. That's something that you can do at scale. I could select 200 pages in four different buckets, have a template, and just give it to my engineers and say, "Update this. You're going to add part of the H1 as part of this title or we're going to pick some other elements on the page that will transform this template into something more meaningful.”
D: If a brand, for example, wanted to change their page title to do a Black Friday sale and save 50% off or something like that to catch people's eyes, how quickly can they expect Google to replace the title if the sale was over and they want to change it back again.
G: I think it would just be a matter of days.
D: Is it possible to control it a little bit more closely than that and try and time it to within a few hours? Obviously, if your title says 50% off you don't want someone to click on it if that's not what you're offering.
The Pareto Pickle - Internal Linking
G: That is true. I think we have now two cases in here. One, Google was just picking whichever title they want if they don't trust the title that you put there. My second way, let's say if we change the title, and Google picked a new title, I would go to Search Console and once you change the title, I would go back to Search Console and ask Google to crawl the page again, and see if that change happened. You'll probably have other elements on the page. So maybe if your H1 also had something related to Black Friday and it's not there anymore, Google might make that connection to the title and the header not saying this anymore so this page is not about Black Friday anymore.
D: Great thoughts. Let's finish off with the Pareto Pickle. Pareto says that you can get 80% of your results from 20% of your efforts. What's one SEO activity that you would recommend that provides incredible results for moderate levels of effort?
G: Internal linking is an easy winner here. It can be done without engineering resources. You don't need a lot of developers to do that work for you. It can also be done straight away. As an SEO, you can map all the pages and opportunities that you have. You can do a site audit crawl that will include a custom extraction that I say "find jobs” I can get that link. So it's very easy to map. Also, if you want to do at scale, it's possible to be done. I don't think it's something too hard to do. You can do without a lot of resources. And I've seen really good results every time that it did.
D: I've been your host David Bain. You can find Gus over at gpelogia on LinkedIn. Gus, thanks so much for being on the In Search SEO podcast.
G: Thank you, David. Hopefully, my insights were useful. If someone is considering a move to enterprise SEO, please reach out on LinkedIn or on Twitter @pelogia. I can give you more pointers, and maybe help you with your interview. That's it for me. Thank you for having me on Rank Ranger again. And we'll chat soon.
D: And thank you for listening. Check out all the previous episodes and sign up for a free trial of the Rank Ranger platform over at rankranger.com.