Scaling Organic revenue
When it comes to organic search optimization, the largest websites face some unique challenges, but also unique opportunities. With URLs topping 100s of thousands or even many millions for some of the largest websites, whether size commands advantage or creates headaches depends on the organic strategies and technology deployed.
While for smaller sites, SEO is largely concerned with keywords and content, enterprises with a large number of URLs on their site must think holistically and embrace modern optimization strategies if they want their products and services to be found, at scale, through organic search.
Organic traffic is unpaid for and builds more authentic brand authority.
In a recent global survey, 51% of respondents place more trust in a brand that ranks highly in natural or organic search results than one that appears as a sponsored or paid advertisement.
Organic results are trusted, and the brands found through these results build stronger relationships, as well as revenue.
Larger sites, therefore, have more to gain if they optimize for this channel. But they also have more to lose if they fail to do this effectively. And fail they often do.
On average over 50% of pages on enterprise sites are invisible to search engines at the start of their process (called crawling). And a further 37% of these pages are non-compliant, and therefore fail to appear in results. Meaning, on average, less than a quarter of enterprise website’s pages have any hope of being discovered in search results.
How can enterprise sites change this? Turning size from a problem into the advantage it should be? This Guide explores some of the challenges, opportunities and strategies this involves.
Site unseen. Gaining visibility at scale
E-commerce sites, marketplaces, and classified websites often seek competitive advantage through their size. While a physical store can only display a fraction of what buyers might desire to discover, the possibilities are nearly endless for digital stores and their customers.
While your product offering might be nearly infinite, the search engines’ capacity to process it isn’t.
The sheer size of the internet and the complexity of today’s websites make it increasingly difficult for search engines to manage the volumes of pages that need to be surfaced to meet search demands. The larger the site, the greater the challenge is for search engines to cover it entirely. This also means a higher ratio and volume of content risks being passed over.
To be visible to consumers in search results, a website’s strategic pages first need to be visible to the search engines. Ensuring that visibility starts with gaining complete visibility into the performance of all those pages throughout the entire search process. And that requires data, lots of data, allowing SEO teams to see their sites through the eyes of a search engine.
How one major brand managed to turn its size to advantage
Gaining such visibility was the challenge facing one of the largest sites we work with – a retail brand, whose e-commerce site had over 220 million URLs. Running a comprehensive site crawl revealed that millions of the pages they were serving to Google were unproductive in terms of revenue generation, while the productive ones were not being found.
By systematically filtering out the unproductive URLs, the brand radically increased the findability of its strategic product pages. Within two years they had doubled their organic traffic, gaining 450 million new visitors, and an additional $1.4B in sales.
This was a classic “Crawl Budget” problem that affects many enterprise websites.
Every site on the internet has a limited crawl budget, determining the time and the resources the search engines expend on the first part of their process.
If that limited budget is being squandered on the wrong pages in a massive site like this then you have an equally massive problem.
Turning insight into impact
Any site with over 1 million URLS can’t effectively optimize for organic traffic at scale without comprehensive and holistic data at their fingertips. Total visibility on which pages are being surfaced by search engines, which are not, and most importantly why, is the vital first step to gaining greater organic traffic. Data takes the guesswork out of being found through search.
Data is great. But knowing how and when to act on that data is even better.
You don’t want to go from not knowing, to drowning in data, with no clear sense of what interventions will have the biggest positive impact quickest.
What’s needed is a single source of truth for the diverse data points that large and complex sites dictate. This needs to be accessible and relevant to diverse stakeholders across marketing and content, UX and digital, product, engineering, and revenue and the exec.
Getting everyone on the same page is almost as important as implementing those optimizations in the first place. And it can encourage further wins through a positive feedback loop, proving the case for organic-driven revenue company wide.
The return(s) of organic search
Proving the ROI of organic has historically proven difficult. Partly due to the complexity of attribution when user journeys can involve diverse touch points (explored further here), and partly due to perceptions. Historically, the organic channel is seen as a slow and steady long-term undertaking, when compared with paid media channels. When you’re paying for clicks, you at least know whether you’re getting them and what they cost, and you can track this immediately.
But you equally notice when you switch off the campaigns and that traffic disappears. Traffic earned through robust organic search optimization is not paid for and doesn’t have an end date. Rather than paying for every website visitor and then losing that traffic once your campaign ends, effective optimization builds sustained unpaid traffic from search engines over time.
Demonstrating the ROI of organic involves a switch in mindset as much as a switch in digital channels.
Organic traffic is “unpaid” traffic, but it’s not entirely free.
Accurately calculating its true ROI involves taking a holistic view of the potential investment in team time, the right technology, and cross-functional communication required to embrace organic optimization as a performance channel and revenue driver.
And while organic might historically have been considered a longer-term investment, the perception of its slowness to yield results needs challenging. Advanced automation tools are changing the game as well as the pace of optimizations and speed to impact. With organic you can win now and later by deploying it as a performance marketing channel that also yields long-term sustainable growth.
Accelerating advantage through automation
AI and Machine Learning are transforming nearly all digital touchpoints, including search. The subject is difficult to ignore, and so are the implications for the largest sites, which can’t hope to optimize effectively at scale without AI-empowered automation.
This is the logical next step for activating the vast wealth of data and insights enterprise sites rely on to optimize effectively. It would take an army to do this manually, and so
AI is increasingly bridging the gap between what’s necessary and what’s possible with existing team and technology resources.
Here are just a few examples of where this technology is proving most useful.
- Manual processes for collecting and analyzing organic search data can be costly and time-consuming, limiting marketing teams’ ability to identify and activate opportunities for optimizing revenue. Automating these tasks means the teams can be better engaged on more strategic objectives, knowing their roadmap is steadily on course.
- SEO teams can spend a lot of time tracking issues after a project is launched. AI can do this for them, with dashboards that monitor site traffic behavior and issue alerts about critical issues, so the teams can jump back into the driving seat and respond immediately.
- AI can also act at the interface between sites and the search engines, to ensure the right pages are being served to them. Automating this function adds an “auto-pilot” dimension to the relationship between websites and search engines that modern technical SEO is founded on. If the problem of strategic pages being found by humans starts with being found by search engines, automation helps to solve this problem at source.
- Finally, AI can accelerate speed to value for critical website optimizations. Advanced automation tools can now help SEO teams overcome engineering bottlenecks, to make critical implementations without code and without waiting on engineering.
- A common theme of this guide has been how organic search can have business-wide impact, but to do so needs cross-functional buy-in. AI can also assist such alignment, bridging gaps, and empowering teams across SEO, customer experience, product design, engineering, marketing and revenue.
- With tools that allow you to safely test site-wide implementations and organic growth hypotheses in minutes, rather than months, making the case for organic’s revenue potential just got easier.
Botify is the organic search innovation behind the world’s biggest and most visible brands.
Botify was built to solve these problems. It’s the only unified end-to-end organic search platform that can enable enterprise sites to optimize at scale.
Here’s how it works:
Botify Analytics lets you view your website through a search engine’s eyes.
It gives you complete visibility into its technical and content performance, provides competitive insights, and even identifies which key words your customers are actually searching for.
This total visibility draws on Botify’s unified data model, which brings together all the data points (over a thousand) you need within a single platform to identify what’s working, what’s not, and more importantly, why.
Botify Intelligence enables you to act on this data to drive optimum business impact.
Powered by machine learning, it provides recommendations and smart alerts to help teams better understand SEO impacts and objectives for growing and protecting their organic traffic.
Instead of teams being overwhelmed by the possible paths to take or focus their time on, Botify Intelligence empowers them to prioritize optimizations for the biggest business impact, through goal-based guidance pages they can easily understand what to focus on when optimizing.
Customized alerts provide notifications of potential threats to traffic, helping teams act decisively on issues before they impact the bottom line.
Botify Activation takes AI-powered organic optimization to a whole new level.
It’s built to amplify visibility at scale and accelerate speed to market. By ensuring strategic pages are found by search engines, and by cutting out engineering dependencies to help teams own the end-to-end optimization process, Botify’s AI-powered automations enable bigger impact, faster.
There’s never been a better time for enterprise websites to unlock organic search revenue.
Botify helps them unlock that value faster.