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5 Ways SEO Helps Marketers Work Smarter with Bigger Brands



If you take the same approach to big brands as all other companies you work with, you are limiting your results.

This is true regardless if you’re working in-house or on the agency side of digital marketing

Larger brands have unique challenges and untapped potential. But you can easily get lost in the red tape and noise that often comes with bigger entities and their marketing dilemmas.

When I’ve worked with enterprise clients over the years, five SEO tactics repeatedly have made things better.

Here are five ways to use SEO and work smarter with the bigger brands.

Why SEO?

SEO is the marketing channel that takes on accountability for websites in their entirety.

This includes a consistent lead role and performance enhancement covering:

  • Technical performance
  • Content
  • Website maintenance & health
  • Marketing integration
  • Data (integrity, tracking, insights, visualization)
  • Total site performance
  • Search footprint & coverage

By contrast:

  • PPC has dedicated landing pages and a clearly defined page focus to maximize revenue and return on advertising spend (ROAS).
  • Social media primarily entails broader external attention and driving buzz, awareness, content longevity plus on-site engagement and interest. (As an aside, here are some great tips for brands to effectively use Twitter.)
  • Other specialisms such as user experience (UX) and content strategists have highly targeted goals and KPIs.

These often sit as key parts of the full site delivery but not focussing as much on the total site in a consistent fashion as required.

So on to the five ways SEO helps you work smarter with bigger brands.

1. Setting a Solid Foundation from Which to Build

Perhaps the most overlooked value enhancement that SEO offers in an all-channel marketing approach is the creation of a solid base to grow site success.

Tasks such as 404s, site speed, content reviews, and content gaps, often span specialisms to the detriment of anyone taking ownership and getting them regularly audited and improved.

An SEO expert with their span of expertise can easily become the go-to for all of this and a whole lot more.

As site health, functionality and performance becomes a monthly focus item, and discussed agenda point, it moves away from being nobodies job to everybody’s performance enhancer.

When working with a brand of bigger scale, technical performance and site health problems, escalate fast.

Here is where SEO takes the lead, puts in place improved working practices, and regains control over unwieldy and underloved websites.

Technical performance impacts:

  • Rankings
  • Usability
  • Content digestion
  • Social sharing
  • Micro and Macro goal completions
  • More

2. Creating More Comprehensive Data Ecosystems

The data-driven approach of SEO, combined with the role of the integrated lead, positions SEO perfectly for managing and improving the data ecosystem.

Typically this will include fundamental responsibilities covering:

  • Data collection, integrity, and tracking.
  • Data visualization and reporting (integrated).
  • Automating data-led insights.
  • Prioritizing actions and tactical changes from data.
  • Expanding the data points, sources and data recombination.

With bigger entities, the data dilemmas are frequently more expansive, repeated and complex, reinforcing the priority and timely application of a data improvement role from SEO.

Initially, the data value coming from SEO can include pulling all the data into a single place, as well as understanding and acting on existing data pain points.

3. Leveraging the Power of the Brand

This covers everything from practical brand storytelling and expertise sharing, through to audience awareness and community contribution.

Within every brand sits unrealized potential tied closely to the brand.

With larger brands, this opportunity to vastly greater.

With an SEO hat on, a big brand adds to the marketing opportunity for:

  • Expanding the topics that rank highly by the association with the brand.
  • Maximizing the relevancy of the brand to peoples lifestyle choices.
  • Bringing to the foreground expertise and knowledge sharing that exists within the organization.
  • Larger campaigns and increased budget for experimentation and expansion.
  • Faster and increased comprehensiveness of content coverage.

SEO inclusion within the marketing mix on bigger brand marketing can systematically reinforce the local focus leveraging that can regularly go untapped.

An example of this in action would be location optimization for retail brands.

Effective SEO inclusion in this would:

  • Establish location tracking, actions plans, and prioritization of targeting.
  • Report on data changes, growth, and refinements of approach.
  • Set best practice and frameworks for increasing the efforts and actions from disperse teams.
  • Facilitate head office control measures over remote teams.
  • Drive forward ongoing action taking through the justification of requirement and result sharing.

4. Keeping an Eye on the Little Things

Large organizations and fragmented in-house teams naturally lead toward oversight on the smaller actions and the perceived “little things.”

Over time this lack of attention to the granularity intermittently comes to the surface once the issue grows to the extent that it places itself onto somebodies radar.

An example of this in action could be something as simple as broken content on the site.

Ideally, this type of check and fix would be planned as a monthly activity.

Without the planned time of this being in place, it is likely that a bigger issue needs to occur for this to be repositioned onto somebodies active workload.

For example, website bugs being targeted as a project to fix once a senior member of the team uses the website and notices something not working.

This then leads to increased prioritization of sites lack of operability and output being a fresh site usability audit being completed.

A lack of focus on the little things can manifest itself in many ways including:

  • Inconsistencies of applied best practice.
  • Inaccurate campaign tracking.
  • Increasing errors and technical performance decline.
  • Single success content mentalities (no mechanism for consistent refinement and iterative content improvement).
  • Lack of ownership or proactivity on smaller action completion.
  • Inefficient gap filling between teams and specialist focus areas.

5. Consumer Insights & Real World Behavior

When working with big brands it is easy to make assumptions.

For example, the keywords being used for product positioning has had extensive keyword research completed.

Or that there are established ways for deciding on the content to remove (and due diligence in place).

These assumptions and many others are often not true.

The role of SEO to sanity check assumptions can add huge value.

As can the ability for an SEO expert to quickly support or question the decision making with data.

This is a key part of SEO and search agencies especially – to be able to be part of the team and actively participating within decision making as opposed to after decisions have been made.

Real-world application of business data, plus decisions support and justification, help deliver increasingly robust strategies and tactical action-taking.


There are many ways to derive extra gains when working with bigger brands.

The five explored in this article were:

  • Establishing a solid website foundation.
  • Creating more exhaustive and reliable data ecosystems.
  • Making more out of brand power.
  • Keeping an eye on the smaller details and actions.
  • Sanity checking decisions and data-driven decision making.

More Resources:

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How to tackle rising Facebook CPAs



SAN JOSE – With more advertisers and bigger budgets crowding onto Facebook and Instagram, acquisition costs are climbing. Advertisers can make their social ad dollars go further by re-thinking campaign fundamentals.

“You need to make sure you’re scaling your available inventory for click-through rates, mirroring your audience, and being dynamic,” 3Q Digital’s Senior Strategy Development manager Madeline Fitzgerald said in sharing tips for lowering CPAs across Facebook at SMX West Thursday.

Deconstructing Facebook CPCs

Audience size: bigger is usually better. CPCs on Facebook are affected by audience size, account structure, and click-through rates (CTR). The narrower and smaller your target audience, the more competitive your bid will need to be, Fitzgerald explained. The competition in the auction will ultimately impact the CPC outcome.

“If you’re noticing that your CPCs are really high, one of the first things you should do is check your audience sizes. If you’re seeing that [it’s] getting too specific, see if there are any other interests, behaviors, demographics that we can add.” Doing so, she explained, will help to broaden the target pool and give the Facebook algorithm more options to show your ads.

If you’ve reached a ceiling, broad targeting might be the next step. “If you already have a mature account, don’t go straight to this if you’re still early on in your testing phases. But if you’re trying to get to that next level, broad targeting is great way to do so,” Fitzgerald explained.

Account structure and segmentation. Account structure and the way we segment our ad sets can also determine the available ad inventory. Ads can run across a range of Facebook properties – from News Feed and Messenger to Stories and Instagram feeds. When we add segmentations like placements or geographies, the audience pool becomes restricted and advertisers might miss out on more efficient inventory.

“The algorithms are smarter than we are,” she reasoned. “Let the robots have it on factors like devices and placements. A couple of years ago, we laughed at everyone who did that. But we’re actually seeing a 13% lower CPA with some of our clients who [no longer segment those].”

Segmentation can be valuable when focusing on the funnel stage – i.e. audience personas, creative, and destination pages. But Fitzgerald recommends skipping demographics, geographies, devices, and placements — any of the factors you can’t edit after you set them up.

Campaign budget optimization. Soon, ad set budgets will be going away, in favor of campaign budget optimization (CBO), which uses machine learning to automatically serve ads to the target audience based on predictive analysis.

“I think the biggest way to figure out how to work this into our strategy is to think about the language Facebook is using to tell us about how the algorithm operates. Facebook tells us that CBO looks at the available opportunities – which is a combination of audience size and the audience’s propensity to actually convert into billable opportunities.”

Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes volume over potential for conversion,
which is why CBO works, she explained. Marketers can group together audiences with
similar potential reach or size and the budget optimization tool will see more
conversion potential for larger audience within the budget.  

Conversions are in the creative

Mirror your audience. “As advertisers, it’s our job to help users see themselves
and their goals – what they want to accomplish – in our creative. We need to
make sure we’re making it very obvious for them,” said Fitzgerald.

Compelling ad creative should be able to clearly visualize
the value proposition of what’s being promoted. And it’s not just about getting
more users in the door, it’s about getting the right users in the door
because they were drawn to your creative.

Engage audiences with video. Facebook has been pushing advertisers
to use animation and video for some time now, but Fitzgerald argues advertisers
still aren’t doing enough with it.

“A lot of advertisers take existing creative and put a slow
zoom on it, or pull a three-minute explainer video and think that counts as an
ad. But that’s not really what we’re being called to as advertisers here,” she said.
“It’s our job to figure out how to leverage movement in a more disruptive way,
and think about new original ways to talk to people.”

Highlight clear value in the copy.  Effective copy isn’t about being brand heavy. It’s about
making users comfortable with clicking on an ad. Fitzgerald explained that advertisers
can build that trust and comfort by keeping ad copy directly tied to the value of
what you’re selling.

“We want to make sure users don’t need to go through any guesswork to figure out what’s going to happen next,” Fitzgerald said. “People don’t want to have to read through your whole website to understand why they should engage with your brand.”

This story first appeared on Marketing Land. For more on digital marketing, click here.

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About The Author

Taylor Peterson is Third Door Media’s Deputy Editor, managing industry-leading coverage that informs and inspires marketers. Based in New York, Taylor brings marketing expertise grounded in creative production and agency advertising for global brands. Taylor’s editorial focus blends digital marketing and creative strategy with topics like campaign management, emerging formats, and display advertising.

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New local SERP live in Europe



In April 2019, Google was experimenting with a new local SERP that highlighted alternative directory sources for the same query. At the time, we saw an example in the wild for Germany. Now, an updated version of the SERP featuring branded directory buttons appears to be live in the UK, Belgium, Spain, Greece, and France – if not already throughout Europe.

A more prominent directory box. Below is an example screenshot from a UK search, showing directory links above the map and local pack.

SERP showing results for ‘asbestos removal Halifax UK

This change in the SERP grows out of Google’s continuing effort to comply with the European Commission’s antitrust decision in shopping search. It’s also an attempt by the company to preempt a separate antitrust action in local search.

Yelp previously criticized these types of screens as a return to Google’s “rival links” remedy, which was originally proposed in 2013 and ultimately rejected by the European Commission.

UK SERP showing a local carousel above the map

How are the directories selected? One obvious and immediate question is how are the displayed directories chosen? This isn’t an ad unit, in contrast to the solution implemented in shopping search. In the latter context, comparison shopping engines and Google Shopping bid against one another for placement in PLAs. However, there’s no comparable “sponsored” or “ad” label in the directory box or carousel above.

We must assume that Google is algorithmically choosing the directories to display. In the UK example above, clicking on the directory box links takes users to a category page in the case of Yell but a business profile page in the case of Cylex. Other searches (e.g., “dentists, London”) show a carousel with multiple, alternative directories.

In some cases, the directories appear on the first page of the organic results, below the map. In other cases, they do not.

Why we care. It remains to be seen whether this approach is acceptable to the European Commission. Part of that will depend on whether the buttons drive meaningful traffic to these publishers. If so it could revive the fortunes of at least some of them (think “barnacle SEO”), which have continued to see declining traffic as Google My Business and zero-click search grab more user focus and engagement.

About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land, a member of the programming team for SMX events and the VP, Market Insights at Uberall.

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E-commerce category pages outperform product detail pages in SERPs



E-commerce category pages represent a larger opportunity for ranking and driving organic search traffic than product detail pages, according to research unveiled at SMX West 2020 on Thursday. 

Across nearly 30 top U.S., e-commerce sites ranking for more than 25 billion keywords, category pages outperformed product detail pages, driving more keyword rankings and estimated traffic, as well as showing higher potential to capture additional traffic with optimization.

The data – culled by JumpFly and seoClarity from Google’s rankings in the U.S. – highlight the outsized role that category pages play in upper-funnel marketing efforts to drive brand awareness and interest.

Specifically, e-commerce category pages – which include parent category, subcategory and product grid pages with faceted navigation – ranked for 19% more keywords on average than product detail pages ranked for. The additional keywords they ranked for drove an estimated 413% more traffic, based on the keywords’ search demand and the pages’ ranking position. With optimization, those ranking category pages also showed the potential to drive 32% more traffic.

Even though category pages drove strong traffic, there’s a significant amount of room to improve ranking performance. On average, each captured an estimated 9% of the share of voice in its search results page. That means that the other ranking pages captured an estimated 91% of the clicks. Product detail pages, by contrast, captured just 2% of the share of voice.

E-commerce sector trends

The strong-category-page trend was most apparent across sectors that naturally target more generic head and torso keywords. For example, sites that sold cordless hammer drills, table lamps and cowboy boots drove stronger performance with category pages, including fashion, home goods and home improvement, as well as department store sites.

Interestingly, the results varied for one sector tested: electronics. One likely reason that product detail pages perform more strongly in this sector could be that electronics keyword themes tend to contain more concrete product attributes than those in other e-commerce sectors. For example, common TV searches include specifics like the size, display technology, resolution, brand and whether it’s “smart” or not. Product names for electronics also tend to contain some of those attributes to differentiate the many similar products available. Therefore, the relevance between a detailed search query and the details in the product name is higher than it would be for other sectors.

Regardless of sector, however, the direct-to-consumer space drove the strongest category-page results, with category pages ranking for 356% more keywords than product detail pages. These brand manufacturers selling their own products on their sites – like Apple, IKEA, The Gap and Nike – drove an estimated 202% more traffic with category pages, and had the potential to drive 233% more traffic.

Marketplaces and auctions

No e-commerce story is complete without a look at marketplaces and auctions. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a strong consensus among the sites in either group.

Behemoth Amazon bucks the trend with product detail pages ranking for an incredible 21,847% more keywords: 34 million keywords compared to the meager 155,000 keywords that its category pages ranked for. Amazon’s product detail pages also drove an estimated 57.5 times more traffic, and had the potential to drive 275.7 times more traffic. 

This makes a certain amount of sense based on Amazon’s strength in media and electronics sales. Both sectors are more focused on the types of keywords that product detail pages would naturally win – book and movie titles, and product attributes. In fact, one of Amazon’s best practices for product detail pages involves placing as many product attributes as possible into its 50- to 250-character product names. 

Conversely, the product names, and consequently the title tags that are typically based on them, tend to be very short and vague on most e-commerce sites. One luxury jewelry site, for example, has more than 10 products named simply “Ball Ring.”

Walmart’s smaller marketplace system acted more like Amazon with product detail pages that ranked more strongly. Though technically classified as a marketplace since its Target+ expansion to include third-party sellers last year, Target’s much smaller network acted more like a department store with stronger category pages. 

On the auction side, eBay acted more like a department store with slightly stronger category pages, while Etsy drove more rankings with its product detail pages.

Why it matters

This research suggests that category page optimization is a valuable area to prioritize to boost your organic search rankings and traffic.

Category pages form the backbone of an e-commerce site as the clickable representation of the site’s taxonomy. Every category page naturally targets a series of keyword themes that form a path through the funnel. The head keyword sits at the mouth of the funnel, while the related, more detailed themes step lower to form the torso and long tail that move toward the tip of the funnel. Traditionally, the product keywords sit at the very tip of the funnel, converting the customer to a sale.

For example, an e-commerce site that sells clothing could have the following click path through a series of five category pages: women’s clothing > dresses > maxi dresses > black maxi dresses > XL black maxi dresses. Each of those five pages targets a unique keyword theme with a place in the sales funnel. Optimizing category pages enables you to capture those searching customers as they explore their purchase options.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Jill Kocher Brown is a 14-year SEO consultant, author, speaker, and editor. She loves data-driven decisions, scalable SEO strategies, e-commerce and technical SEO. A veteran of five agencies and in-house twice, Jill can be found these days at digital marketing agency JumpFly, Inc., where she’s pioneering the SEO practice.

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