Search engines are the most popular method for target customers to find you. As such, SEs is the most vital avenue for letting customers finds you.
As we all know Google is still the big brother in dominating the global search market, not only that, it’s also growing faster than any of its competitors, according to data from comScore. The audience measurement firm estimates that Google sites notched up a total of 76.7 billion searches during the month of July 2009, an increase of 58 percent over July 2008 (for more information on the global search market share, see here at Search Engine Watch)
Based on the data from comScore, currently, search engines around the world together receive more than 400,000,000 searches per day; the searches are done with the help of keywords: as a rule, people type a short phrase consisting of two to five keywords to find what they are looking for. It may be information, products, or services.
Because of that, search engine optimization (SEO) becomes one of the methods that many companies are using toward promoting their websites on the internet and generate the traffic.
However, due to there are many reasons, it is usually easier to convince small and medium-scale businesses to use SEO than it is to convince the big companies.
For the big brands, according to the 2008 report, there only 40% of the top 100 retailer websites are optimized well or moderately well while 27% show no signs of any optimization at all. For those non-optimized sites that perform well on the search engines are relying heavily on the popularity of their brand names.
The issues behind the lack of optimization on these bigger sites and bigger brands are numerous.
1. Languages and Operations in the Multiple Countries
Many big corporation and large brands keep all their languages under one top level domain (TLD). When you go to their website, you will see there a tab ‘country’ on the menu navigation bar, which has different languages that lead you to a particular country.
It is a fact that if your country code top level domain (ccTLD) is a dot com, and if the site is hosted in the USA, that any search for that site’s products on dot co dot th (in-country search in the Thailand) will not yield a single result for that website.
When you click on the language in a page, let’s say if someone in Thailand is searching for a product or service a big brand offers, the big brand will translate their offering into Thai language in a folder on the dot com TLD, they will appear in the results if the search is on Thai language sites. However, if someone in Thailand searches for in-country results, the website will not be displayed in the SERPs (search engine results pages).
In addition, many big brands are not willing to consider host each language site in the target market country and on a relevant ccTLD due to reporting, CMS integration, and cost validation issues, not to mention they need to purchase the relevant ccTLD.
2. IT Structure
Big companies and big brands normally have complex IT structures, cumbersome tools or CMS systems, and many CMS systems simply not SEO friendly, redeveloping the backend and incorporating a more SEO friendly CMS solution is often seen to be too costly or too time consuming. Also many stakeholders are in different silos (IT, marketing, operations, etc).
It’s a challenge to get the marketing and technology groups on the same page looking & working towards the same goal, even after they agreed, the length of implementation is still the question.
3. Reporting Structure
There is often a split highway of reporting structure for big brands where each group is getting direction from two or three completely different people.
You go further up the pecking order until you find a common director, vp, or even president that can get all of the wheels working together. If one wheel is trying to go a different direction, then you obviously aren’t going to get very far.
For example, you want to modify and tweak the website code, web configs, dns entries, do 301 & 302 redirects, URL rewriting etc to help your company and take their business to the next level, if there one wheel doesn’t work together with others, it will just give you a hit on your panic button and you’ll go home and bore your spouse about how they “just don’t get it”.
4. Don’t ‘Get’ or Don’t ‘Need’
Many big brands don’t “get” SEO, but some of them don’t need it. At the highest level, SEO is a set of tactics and it is not a strategy, it strong trumps most over other factors, you don’t build brands with SEO, in some cases, you may even commoditize them. There are many ways for a brand to reach new customers who have never heard of them, such as long tail SEO, social media, or recommendations from friends, which are a few other arrows in the quiver.
Due to the fact that advertising in the offline space is where the majority of marketing spend. For big brands, spending money on SEO seems pointless when you can get a two for one hit by releasing say a direct mail piece with a web address attached to it. Whilst marketing spend online is more easily monitored, but it’s still very low down on the priority list for major marketing executives.