SEO is one of those fields where even the smallest entity, with the right effort, can excel and achieve great results, sometimes better than much more well-known and structured competitors.
Let's take an example, searching on Google.it for the keyword "motorcycle brake production".
Google.it, keyword: "motorcycle brake production" — 16/01/2019, Reggio Emilia
Let's exclude the local pack and focus on the "simple" organic results.
The first position is occupied by the TRW Aftermarket website, part of the ZF group (which declares more than 36 million Euros in turnover in 2017): I'd say we can consider it a big player. The following results, however, are occupied by the following companies: Accossato, Bergamaschi, Rinolfi. Only in fifth position, after the barrier represented by the local pack, do we find a link to the Brembo website, a "giant" in the brake system production sector.
What does this suggest?
That when it comes to search engines, "size doesn't always matter" and that often "David beats Goliath."
Types of errors (quick links):
- Error #1: Ignoring the basics of on-page optimization
- Error #2: Thinking globally and forgetting about local
- Error #3: Fast internet, very slow company
1. Ignoring the basics of on-page optimization
Although the most famous brands don't need to strictly follow the basic rules of SEO (if you search for PC Microsoft you find the Microsoft website's page dedicated to Windows devices in the first position, even if the H1 doesn't have the keyword "PC Microsoft", and rightly so!) sometimes it seems that the principles of good web design are completely ignored.
- When this happens, URLs are usually all in English or the main language, with addresses like bigbigcompany.com/en/support/remote (English), bigbigcompany.com/it/support/remote, bigbigcompany.com/ru/support/remote (Russian!).
URL of the French page dedicated to washing machines on the Samsung site
Non-speaking, non-significant, or very long URLs- Parameters for categories: bigcompanywebsite.com/products?category=12345
- Numbers in the domain name: branddivision5.majorcorporategroup.it
- Terminology and internal structure "forced" onto the website: giantbrand.com/country/headquarters/division/department/subdepartment/office/desk/chair/content.html
URL of the page dedicated to protecting email systems of CISCO. Besides not being translated (previous point), it features everything under the non-significant folder /c/ and ends with the classic and always current /index.html.
Another example: the History page in the Spanish version of the Nestlé site, with the inevitable /category/, the symbol "#" and a charming number "1" at the end.
- Poorly Managed Meta and Open Graph
Tags Especially in the case of large websites, manually filling out Title Tags, Meta Descriptions, and various Open Graph elements can be challenging. What seems odd is that often there are no templates pre-planned that could automatically fill these in the best and most meaningful way possible.
- Headings Apocalypse
The discourse on titles is complicated due to the interplay of marketing, communication, and technical needs. However, often the most prominent page title is an <h5> with the headline of the current campaign that absolutely does not describe the page content, perhaps missing an <h1> or having multiple ones.
- Structured Data
Correctly using structured data according to the standards set by the Schema.org project should be a good practice, yet it is often completely overlooked. Organization, LocalBusiness, Brand, Product: the available schemas allow the description of a good number of possible entities, providing search engines with valuable information that reduces the risks posed by ambiguity.
- Lacking User Experience
Not always does the corporate structure prove effective when applied to websites. The information architecture of a good site (from the smallest to the largest) and its navigation logic should always meet the needs of its interlocutors, not those of the organigram.
As of writing, the homepage of the multinational Roche features a hamburger menu at the top left (inside which the real contents are hidden) and some highlighted news. That's it.
AND EMILI specializes in digital channel development and strategic consulting.
2. Thinking Global, Forgetting Local
Head offices, production plants, retail points, dealers, service centers: the ecosystem of medium or large companies usually consists of many entities. These entities become extremely relevant on the local search front, and search engine evolution seems to be heading in this direction.
As indicated earlier, a good practice would be to enrich one's websites with structured data, something that outside the e-commerce world happens very rarely. More concerning, in my opinion, is the often-neglected state of the Knowledge Graph info panels and Google MyBusiness listings. I frequently see auto-generated, unclaimed listings or claimed ones in total neglect with outdated logos, incomplete or even incorrect information.
Clearly, it's not easy for a large brand to have full control of its ecosystem. However, I believe it's crucial, for example, for a clothing brand, to ensure that its flagship store appears with a complete listing in a local search (brand + city). Because if not, you're missing an opportunity.
A concrete example? At the time of writing, typing the keyword "Starbucks Milano" results in an unclaimed Google MyBusiness listing:
Google.it, keyword: "Starbucks Milano" — 01/29/2019
3. Fast internet, extremely slow company
This is a problem that usually grows with the size of companies. Decisions become increasingly complex, processes increasingly lengthy, timelines increasingly extended.
SEO is an activity that yields results in the long term, but to achieve them, one must move quickly. Algorithms change overnight; flexibility is required. The bottlenecks that emerge in this context, in my opinion, fall into two categories.
These are the problems that arise when the marketing department and the IT department collide. Some examples? Installing an SSL certificate, activating a domain, sometimes even for doing simple redirects.
This goes deeper because it involves the preferences of the area manager, the mood of the CEO, the general hierarchy, the campaigns active on offline media, etc. The key point is that changing a title on a product listing or publishing a landing page sometimes requires 3-4 different approvals and at least two weeks of time.
Needless to say, from this perspective, smaller entities, as well as younger ones, are decidedly at an advantage because they can afford timely actions, and those in charge of digital activities usually have more room to maneuver.
And these, in my opinion, were the 3 types of mistakes that large companies often make in the SEO field. I've surely forgotten some; any suggestions?
AND EMILI specializes in development and strategic consulting for digital channels.
This page has been translated using automated translation tools and artificial intelligence technologies. We strive to ensure that the content is accessible in multiple languages, but please be aware that the translation may not be perfect. If you have any doubts or need clarifications, please feel free to contact us.