Episode 144 | Posted on

SEO for the Enterprise, at Scale! with John Doherty

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Enterprise SEO consultant John Doherty @dohertyjf is here to take us on a deep dive into technical SEO for websites that have more than a million pages on @mktg_speak. Click To Tweet

This Week’s Guest:

Even if you don’t know much about SEO, the fact that we’re already at episode #144 of this podcast should be a pretty good indication that there’s a lot to cover. If you’re already familiar with the subject, you know that technical SEO can get pretty hairy. All of this complexity multiplies when you’re dealing with a huge website of a million pages or more. While we usually deal with smaller websites, this episode will dive deep into technical SEO for large websites.

 

Here to explore this fascinating complexity with me is John Doherty, the founder of Credo, which makes it easy to find a great SEO or marketer. John has helped over 1500 business find a quality digital marketing provider, and has also personally consulted on SEO with some of the largest websites online, including Zillow.

Find Out More About John Here:

Credo
John Doherty
John Doherty on LinkedIn
@dohertyjf on Twitter
@mrjohnfdoherty on Facebook
@dohertyjf on Instagram

In This Episode:

  • [01:10] – John starts things off by talking about enterprise SEO, and what’s different between regular SEO and enterprise SEO.
  • [04:27] – We hear about whether the majority of the pages that John has been talking about are unique and useful, or just repeat copies of similar pages.
  • [06:03] – How would John tackle an issue of having multiple low-value pages or duplicate content pages in Google’s index?
  • [09:52] – John talks about and clarifies the increased growth he mentioned a moment earlier.
  • [10:46] – Stephan takes a moment to arrange the strategies and methods that John has been talking about into a hierarchy.
  • [13:27] – We hear some of John’s additions to what Stephan has been saying.
  • [15:50] – The challenge that you’re dealing with on large websites is crawl optimization, John explains. He and Stephan then talk about crawl budget and index budget.
  • [20:45] – Google used to say that 301 redirects were the only ones that pass pagerank, but Gary Illyes said otherwise, Stephan points out.
  • [25:12] – John responds to what Stephan has been saying about links and redirects, and the involved side effects.
  • [28:44] – We hear about crawl budget versus index budget, with Stephan explaining what they are.
  • [33:39] – We move on from canonicals and 301s to a fun yet important topic: link building. How do you do link building for a large-scale website with millions of pages?
  • [37:57] – John talks about the challenge with many metrics.
  • [40:55] – Stephan talks about a piece of content explaining the benefits of Link Explorer.
  • [42:40] – How many tools does John typically use? His answer includes a list of some of his preferred tools.
  • [47:51] – What would John tell a client who wants to rank for a specific keyword for a specific page?
  • [49:57] – We hear about what John does to make something a link-worthy page.
  • [52:35] – Stephan shares something that he didn’t love about an SEO choice that REI made against his advice.
  • [54:30] – John shares his suggestions on what a listener should do if they’re looking for the right agency or consultant to hire at the right price.
  • [57:26] – Is there a paticular price range that a typical agency will fall within?
  • [59:35] – John lists some ways that listeners can get in touch with him.

Links and Resources:

Your Checklist of Actions to Take

☑ Focus on keyword buckets rather than specific phrases when dealing with a large-scale enterprise site.

☑ Keep my XML sitemaps up to date so that Google will recognize my important pages.

☑ Be sure to correctly tag my pages. Overusing tags can look spammy.

☑ Properly index my products by determining their category, subcategory, and sub-subcategory.

☑ Only rank the highly important pages on a large-scale website. If a site has more than a thousand pages, chances are not every page needs to be indexed.

☑ Don’t allow freeform tag pages to form if I am setting up a new website or moving onto another domain.

☑ Create long tail keywords. Over time, long tail keywords have a ton of search volume and high conversions.

☑ Don’t use robots.txt when taking pages out of index. I should noindex them first using the robots meta tag, noindex, follow noindex, and nofollow.

☑ Use the 301 (not the 302) if I’m trying to collapse a lot of duplicate content URLs and hide them from search results.

☑ Make it my duty as a consultant to educate my clients about making the right SEO decisions. Show them examples of how to avoid mistakes and how to make them right.

Transcript

S: Technical SEO can get pretty hairy. Now, imagine the complexity gets multiplied significantly when you’re dealing with a large scale website. I’m talking about something that is a million plus pages. This episode, we’re going to dive into technical SEO specifically for large websites. Our guest in this episode, number 144 is John Doherty. He’s the founder of getcredo.com, he’s helped over 1500 businesses find a quality digital marketing provider to work with, and he’s personally consulted on SEO on some of the largest websites online. John, it’s great to have you on the show.

 

J: Stephan, my pleasure to be here.

 

S: Alright. Let’s talk about enterprise SEO because I know that’s a topic that’s near and dear to your heart and mine. What’s different, first of all, between regular SEO and enterprise SEO?

 

J: I think the thing that’s different about enterprise versus regular SEO is really the scale at which you have to think and it which you have to operate. In regular SEO, when you’re working on a smaller website, say it’s a 10-page business website, you’re concerned about very specific keywords. There are these four keywords that are really going to drive traffic to your business, drive you leads, and you’re going to be able to grow your business from there through organic channels. On the enterprise side, I very rarely think about this specific keyword and how we get this specific keyword ranking better. Think about buckets. For example, when I worked in apartment rentals, it wasn’t just how we’re ranking for San Francisco apartments for rent but it was how are we ranking on average across our top 100 apartment for rent keywords, across our top markets. I think that’s the biggest shift that I’ve always have to take into account where you’re just thinking at a broader level and those are the things that are really going to move the needle for you. Then you don’t have to really think about this small website either because you can link to all 10 group pages from your home page. But when you have literally millions of pages in the index, literally millions of pages that could drive you traffic, you really have to think about how are we linking to those, how are we structuring our website, what’s our information architecture there, and then finally the amount of work that has to happen in the background to keep your XML sitemaps up-to-date. Once again, it just happens at a much larger scale and there’s a lot more that can go wrong especially when you have 100 developers, for example, working on a website. There’s some different things that we have to take into account there such as monitoring and that sort of thing.

 

S: When you’re working on these different enterprise SEO projects, were you client-side or were you agency-side?

 

J: It’s been both and also as a freelance strategy consultant. I worked for Distilled in New York City, I worked on some very large websites, some constant websites that have been hit by Panda, for example, back in 2011, 2012, and some other large websites there, some jobs boards nd such. Then I worked in-house for Zillow Group, zillow.com is their main brand, but then also Trulia, Trulia Rentals, hotpads.com is a rentals website they owned.

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