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four corporate stumbling blocks January 21, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Observations, Seen Elsewhere, Technology Trouble.

While I was doing some research this week, I came across this article from MediumBlue.com (a SEO company). They published the article as a list of reasons it’s easier for smaller corporations to outsource their SEO than big ones, but I think they apply to corporations as a whole.

A willingness to pursue the channel – Smaller companies are typically more willing to devote resources to natural search engine optimization than large corporations. Huge things have to happen for a major corporation to get involved in this “new” channel, a channel far removed from the traditional marketing methodologies used to build the giant. Few corporate underlings want to be the one to put their neck on the line and recommend something completely new and “unproven”. Even when a large corporation looks into natural search engine optimization as a potential marketing tool, it can take many months, and sometimes years, for a final decision to be made.

It’s that last part that I specifically want to draw attention to: the time factor. At CorporateSpeak, if I want to do something new and cool to our website that I came up with, I have to go to my boss, who has to go to his boss (the Big Boss), the head of content management, and the head of marketing. They all have to put their two cents in. By the time he sits on all three of those people long enough to get them to pay attention, they’ve all already handed down new projects that puts my idea on the back burner for at least two weeks. Then I go back to my boss, he goes back to all those people, and they just don’t say anything.

And, about two months later, the idea is repurposed as something from the marketing department, and it’s got so many bells and whistles on it that a simple list of useful links (for example) has become a gigantic box with a graphical background and multiple colors that don’t match our site scheme.

A willingness to change the company website – Huge corporations face similar problems when it comes to changing to the corporate website. Within such entities, a person can often not get so much as a comma removed from the text of a secondary page without holding several upper-level management meetings and, ultimately, making a board presentation. Smaller, leaner companies are able to approve necessary website changes more quickly, and are almost always more willing to quickly adapt to the needs of both visitors and search engines – a definite plus in the arena of natural search engine results.

This is extremely accurate. I can change small things, but if I want to take away a certain area on the site to build a new promotional piece of code (that will incorporate the old stuff but make it smaller/more efficient), I always lose that battle because our advertisements have already begun pointing people to that area.

Amusingly, when I do get clearance to change something, the moment that happens, I see an ad with the old stuff on it that was just made available to the public and is being congratulated as “the best ad I’ve ever seen!”

The willingness to outsource – Larger companies have more internal resources at their disposal, and are less likely to outsource this specialized service to someone with proven experience. Often, natural search engine optimization is treated as an afterthought and dumped on an IT person, who typically has too much to do already and will approach the problem solely from a technical standpoint. Natural search engine optimization is by necessity a combination of marketing and technology. Newcomers to the field (especially those who treat the discipline as strictly a technical issue) often make fundamental mistakes that at best do not get results and at worst put sites at risk of penalization.

We’ve tried to outsource some of our marketing, but as CorporateSpeak faces the same economic crunch as every other company, the chances of getting money for outsourcing have gone farther and farther down. Even as people depart — almost half a dozen already in 2009 — due to layoffs and a general sense of which way the wind is blowing, we’re expected to do more and more in-house with less and less time — oh, and we’re all salaried, so there won’t be any overtime pay or benefits.

A lack of technical hurdles – Huge corporations are more likely to have technical issues on their website that can prevent search engines from indexing all of their pages. Often the pages of corporate websites are generated “on the fly” from large databases, and such pages (without modification to the URLs) are sometimes never indexed. In addition, (although usability studies are making this happen less often), some huge corporations have their sites built entirely in flash or use other technologies that are virtually invisible to search engines.

In our case, it’s because all of CorporateSpeak runs on the same general site model. I’ve mentioned in the past that I work in the equivalent of the Mac department but the company only pays attention to the PC department. Well, if we’re going to make a change across all our sites, the PC department decides it, then if they remember they tell the one guy who supports the Mac department. He then has to figure out (with no help) how to do it, and eventually it gets handed down to us at the individual branch offices and we have to make it happen. With the PC department, they just insert the code and that’s that.

On the bright side, I’ll never have to worry about a site built entirely in Flash (unless I’m the one building it) because there are no Flash developers working in that capacity at CorporateSpeak. (There’s one guy in California, but Flash isn’t in his job description.)

Recognize these corporate stumbling blocks? Thought so. And, what’s worse, the bigger the company, the more micromanaging happens to ostensibly overcome them. Not that that’ll ever happen.

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1. saravanakumar - January 22, 2009

Really great article! I wish I had something like this when I started using .

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