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Jennifer Slegg

SEO Project Management, Brands in the SERPs, and Affiliate Marketing Tips

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Jennifer Slegg
SEO Project Management, Brands in the SERPs, and Affiliate Marketing Tips

When it comes to SEO, tactics can vary depending on what you are looking to get out of it.  Are you looking to promote your brand? That generally requires a harder focus on dominating the search results and getting many search features to back you or your brand as an entity.  Are you an affiliate marketer? Then your SEO will be driven by keyword rankings and conversions. 

What if you are working for a large corporation that requires multiple levels of approvals and authorizations before you or your SEO team can make a simple change like a title tag or footer link? These are all types of challenges faced by SEOs today, yet often the approach to handling each can be completely different.

The 5 Hours of SEO webinar by SEMrush discussed looking at SEO from different perspectives and marketing angles, such as for branding, for affiliate marketing, and those unique challenges of SEO for large corporations.

SEO Strategy: How to Build SEO Campaigns like a Management Consultant

You can watch this presentation here.

For anyone who has worked with large brands or corporate clients, you know how even doing something as simple as changing a title tag can require approval from multiple teams or groups within that corporation. This makes SEO more challenging because technical SEO issues and changes usually cannot happen quickly or on the fly due to requirements for teams to sign off on changes.

Ross Tavendale is looking at this specifically, and how SEOs can work well in these situations.

With small and medium-sized enterprises, widespread practice is to do a major audit, then set about fixing the issues the audit raised to increase traffic and rankings. With an enterprise environment, this seemingly simple task becomes much more complicated. 

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For example, in one enterprise website Tavendale worked with, there was a channel manager for each drop-down in their menu, and they all had to sign off on anything that was a sitewide change, such as a title tag or footer links. So for the SEO team to make any sitewide changes, all ten channel managers had to sign off with their approval first before the work could be done.

Project Management 

Tavendale discusses two different areas when it comes to doing the actual work for enterprise clients. On the audit side, there is the technical audit itself, including any research that needs to be done, such as keyword research and content analysis. Then there is the implementation side, which is looking at fixing issues raised in the audit, such as updated metadata, fixing status errors such as 404s, and creating new content.

He then narrows it down to what he calls the waterfall side of things, where things need to be done in a specific order to be completed, such as the content analysis would come after the technical audit in most cases, but making the changes outlined in the audit fall into what he calls “agile / SCRUM” since many of the deliverables can be completed in any order.

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Tavendale also stresses that some SEOs approach enterprise SEO as being all about tactics, but he prefers an approach called REST – Research, Evaluation, Strategy, and Tactics.

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Fixing Broken Issues

When it comes to fixing issues, Tavendale asked the two panelists, Juliette van Rooyen and Gerry White, what they would fix between two issues: fixing broken links or fixing mixed content. 

Gerry first said, “it depends,” but decided on mixed content because mixed content issues tend to be sitewide. Van Rooyen, on the other hand, said broken links. Links, especially internal links that are broken, are more important because it can lead to terrible user experience as well as crawling issues for Google finding that content. Van Rooyen revealed that Amazon has a broken link for the baby section within its drop-down menu, which is a very poor user experience for what should be a relatively popular section of the site. 

SEMrush Tip: SEMrush's Site Audit tool offers an easy way to find a website's internal linking successes and failures. After you run the audit, you can access a Thematic report called Internal Linking.

Open this report and find the pages on the website with the highest and lowest Internal LinkRank; a proprietary score that measures how well your pages are supported by internal links on your site. You can quickly identify where the broken links are and measure your improvements by the change in Internal LinkRank as you fix and add more internal links to the most important pages of the website.

When discussing how to determine which problems to fix on a site first, Tavendale prefers to start on a folder level, and then looks at both the number of URLs and the number of SEO errors in that folder, but before assuming fixing the folder with the most errors is the best move, look at the revenue per folder, then narrow it down to revenue per URL. This will give you a much better idea of which area to fix first.

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You can also determine the cost of fixing each folder by estimating the cost of the fixes required.  Perhaps fixing tile tags is an inexpensive fix because they have someone in house to do it while hiring a writer to write or rewrite content could be a more expensive fix because they do not have someone with the skills to write more high-level content. 

Tavendale recommends updating and reviewing each quarter as implantations happen, especially if some implementations are taking much longer than anticipated, mainly because of hold-ups on the client’s end, such as getting approvals. 

When you forecast, you can also give the client an estimate of how much revenue the delay in making these changes is costing the company.  When they see a dollar value of the lost revenue, this can often result in teams making some of these changes a higher priority for approvals and implementations. 

They also warn of the dangers of being caught up with pointless tasks, the ones where the value in fixing them outweighs the cost of fixing them. 

When you get to a point where you have fixed technical issues, you can then move onto things like customer research, great content, and outreach, according to White.  And even in a world where your site is perfect, Google is updating algos, or there is new schema Google added, so there will always be improvements to be made. 

The Hidden Treasures of Your Brand SERPs

Jason Barnard began with Google SERPs for brands. He asked whether your brand search results look like the ones on the left or the ones on the right and reveals that all brands should want to look like the ones on the right, which he calls the business card for your brand in the search results. 

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When someone searches for your company name, this type of results gives searchers a window into your entire brand’s digital ecosystem – but it also reveals how well Google understands your business too.

Google also understands your reputation, and the search results can be a reflection of what Google thinks about your company as well and what Google thinks brings value to those searching for your brand. 

Using himself as an example, as not only is Barnard an SEO, he is also a children’s composer, and he looks at his own search results and how Google displays it. The search results for his name features review stars, podcasts, profiles from industry sites, his Twitter profile, and his Google knowledge panel. Interestingly, he says he started his knowledge panel as being a musician, but then switched it over so that his search marketing career was more prominent.

Lily Ray agrees that reputation is essential. It is crucial for companies to check their reputation online, excluding results from their own domain, so that they can see what people are saying about them elsewhere. 

Schema

Implementing schema is important, especially for sites that do not have their own knowledge graph. Andrea Volpini says it is the first thing sites should add. Ray agrees it is easy for a company to add schema markup for an organization, local business, corporation, or whatever is relevant to the business. And it is not only good for SEO but can help to get that knowledge graph to appear. Barnard adds that it is like you are adding information in Google’s natural language when you add schema.

Local business schema example

When it comes to personal brand, Ray says that Google doesn’t know who every author is, but she does think being in a knowledge graph does make you more reputable. And authors should be concerned about their reputation online, especially as it relates to the topics they write about. 

Getting Started in Affiliate Marketing

Campbell first starts out talking about why affiliate marketing can be an excellent area for SEOs to get into. It means you are not doing client work but are still using these skills to make money for yourself. He recommends Amazon as a great affiliate program to get started on for beginners, even though the commissions are smaller because it helps you understand how affiliate marketing works and how to market it.

Buying Websites

Campbell uses an example of a website he bought due to its potential as a great affiliate site. The golfing website was already making a small amount of affiliate revenue via Amazon. He purchased the website for 10,000 GBP, and for a small investment in both content and links, he was able to increase the affiliate revenue dramatically over a relatively short period of time. The money he put into the site for content and links came from revenue that the site was already making from affiliate sales through Amazon, so the total actual outlay was only the purchase price.

He also advocates that SEOs should consider purchasing their own sites, such as through one of the website brokers, and then work on SEO to bring in traffic and future affiliate revenue. 

Researching Market Areas

He cautions about researching market areas before jumping in. For example, he had one site where he used a drop shipper instead of an affiliate program. When the drop shipper ran low on inventory, they would supply different products instead of the ones being ordered, which resulted in a lot of order cancellations and returns, which meant lost revenue.

Amazon Affiliate Marketing Tips

Campbell also has some tips for those doing Amazon affiliate marketing.  He encourages site owners to sell items that are $100+ in value, with not as much focus on items that are below $25.  He recommends you use Amazon One Link and tie your Amazon accounts together so that it doesn’t matter which country location the visitor uses to make the purchase; you will still get Amazon affiliate commission across all their TLDs. 

Lastly, he recommends that you avoid seasonal niches.  While you can make money during the season, it will drop dramatically during the off-season, so make sure you take that into account when doing any revenue estimations.

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Merchants vs.  Affiliate Networks

The discussion with Campbell and the two panelists, Judith Lewis and Harsh Agrawal, turned to the possibility of working directly with a merchant, rather than working through an affiliate network or agency. 

Agrawal says you can negotiate with any brand to work directly with you when you have a large number of sales, bypassing the affiliate network completely.  You get a better percentage of the sales and can often request additional perks such as a branded landing page or branded coupon. Campbell says you can make significantly more revenue when you can go directly to a brand rather than running through Amazon or another affiliate network.

Lewis does warn that it can sometimes be harder to track things when you go directly to the brand. Sometimes they are unwilling to add code to their site that would help ensure the sales being recorded are accurate, so you will need to weigh the costs and benefits for going direct rather than through an affiliate.

Campbell recommends you do not just rely upon Amazon. Amazon is excellent for small sales and for getting started, but there are many other avenues to earn commissions and revenue, either directly or through one of the affiliate networks. 

Lewis advises that you do not put all your eggs in one basket, but rather think like a business. Don’t just have one affiliate website, have many of them in different niches. By doing this, you are not relying on one source of income in case one site or sales on it drops for any reason at all.

Jennifer Slegg
Master

A veteran community member.

Jennifer Slegg is a longtime speaker and expert in search engine marketing, working in the industry for over 20 years. When she isn't sitting at her desk writing and working, she can be found grabbing a latte at her local Starbucks or planning her next trip to Disneyland. She regularly speaks at Pubcon, SMX, State of Search, Brighton SEO and more, and has been presenting at conferences for over a decade.
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