Search Marketing & Change

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What did the fish say when he swam into a wall? “Dam!” If you find yourself feeling like this fish, then maybe you’ve experienced some common enterprise SEO challenges. Enterprise-sized organizations, especially where SEO is a primary driver of traffic and revenue, have the added challenge of preserving SEO traffic as much as growing it.

In order to preserve your SEO traffic, you must monitor three important areas in your defense against an SEO disaster: alignment, training, and algorithm changes. In this article, we will take a look at how to prevent an SEO disaster by discussing common causes of traffic declines and defensive SEO strategies you can deploy to avert disaster.


Lack of communication between the right cross-functional teams and stakeholders leads to SEO disaster. At Adobe, we encourage stakeholders to engage the SEO team “early and often.” If you are an in-house SEO, proactive engagement with the right stakeholders is necessary to prevent traffic losses. An open and ongoing dialog with those making changes to the website is important. If you are working with an agency, keeping the dialog open can be more challenging, but it is just as necessary. If the communication between the SEO, product, marketing, IT, and especially quality assurance teams fails, it can be detrimental to SEO success.

To prevent disasters from happening, the in-house SEO team must proactively build cross-functional relationships with stakeholders, align with them on mutual key performance indicators (KPIs), and agree on engagement processes relating to when and why they should be working together. The same goes for any agencies involved. A shared understanding of the common causes of traffic declines can help with the when and why surrounding cross-functional team alignment.

Here are the top three common causes of the most catastrophic SEO traffic declines that can be mitigated with a proactive approach and early engagement of the SEO team:

  • Moving content from one URL to another or, worse, from an established domain to a new domain.
  • Removing content, creating duplicate content, or even changing content depending on the scope of the content change.
  • Removing links to important pages from authoritative pages.

Changes like these can be detrimental to your carefully built SEO traffic unless SEO content migration best practices are fully considered along the way. If you’re aware of any changes like these occurring on your website, engage with your SEO team, or agency, immediately. In some cases, you may have the buy-in with cross-functional teams to engage with their SEO experts early and often. Even then, it’s still helpful to discuss clear engagement processes that define specifically when it is most critical to engage the SEO team.

S-M-A-R-T SEO engagement means that it is important to engage the SEO team at the following times:

Syndicating – When introducing a content syndication strategy or partner.

Making – If you are making new content.

Acquiring – Whenever you are acquiring new content.

Removing – If content is being removed.

Transferring – Whenever your content is being transferred to a new URL.

Training: Creating a Culture of SEO

Creating a culture of SEO and finding SEO heroes through training and development of key stakeholders has really helped us at Adobe. Creating SEO ambassadors outside of the SEO team helps us keep communication open and also helps us scale our efforts across a large organization.

Some practical tips for creating a culture of SEO include holding brown bag, “lunch and learn” trainings with cross-functional teams, tailoring training to specific audiences, and supporting the hiring process. We customize our training for specific teams so we can help prevent traffic losses and educate employees about areas they touch that can negatively impact SEO. By partnering with our SEO ambassadors and meeting with them regularly to discuss upcoming changes, processes, and new SEO techniques, we are able to proactively shape the content across many websites and implement best practices even within a large, matrixed enterprise organization. Discussing clear engagement goals and processes are critical for building an SEO culture. Creating buy-in by communicating that every employee plays a role in SEO and integrating processes into the everyday workflow helps ensure that you don’t have an SEO career-killing incident.

Algorithm Changes

 Algorithm changes are often met with fear and misunderstanding, but being proactive can help you prepare for future changes and potential SEO disasters in this area as well. If you do not want to be caught on the wrong side of an algorithm change, you can prepare yourself by keeping up with current trends and aligning with emerging changes, such as the growing importance of social media in SEO. A few practical tips for staying on the right side of the algorithms include avoiding black hat tactics, creating content primarily for your audience and not just for SEO, paying attention to Google patents, continually networking with SEO thought leaders and following them on Twitter, and attending search marketing related conferences like SMX, SES, Pubcon, Mozcon, and the Adobe Summit, to name a few. Let’s continue the conversation about SEO disasters on Twitter.

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