Optimizing Your Site When It’s Huge

Not As Hard As it Seems

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How do you optimize your site for the search engines when you have hundreds of thousands of pages of content? That’s a big job and can get increasingly difficult as the days pass and more pages are created. It doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems though.

At Pubcon in Las Vegas, Mike McDonald of WebProNews caught up with Bill Hunt, CEO of Global Strategies International, a search engine marketing consultancy firm that specializes in global enterprise companies. They talked about some things that companies can do to simplify their search engine marketing efforts when their sites are huge. Hunt spoke a little about this at the PubCon session called "Discover Techniques Used by Enterprise-Level SEOs/SEMs", but talked a little more about it with Mike.

So What Do the Big Boys Use?

Companies with millions of pages often leverage all the different properties of partners they have and use them to get links. One way Bill talked about doing this is getting partners to link to specific pages instead of your homepage. He gives an example of a company like IBM sponsoring events. These event pages would have IBM logos linking to IBM.com, but what IBM could do is talk to the people running the event page and ask them to link to a more topical page instead of their homepage. If it was for a supply chain management event, they could link to a supply chain management page.

Another example would be OEM partners. You can have them link to the appropriate channel of your site instead of the homepage. The more partners you have, the bigger impact this kind or reaching out will make on your search engine marketing efforts. Bill says to just go out and see who’s linking to your homepage and simply ask them to change the link. And if they’re your partner, they’re more likely to comply.

Affiliate Issues

A large company is bound to have some affiliates, and you probably don’t want to step on any toes in cases like these. Bill suggests looking at the combination of paid and organic data that’s out there and turning off paid words if they’ve got a good organic ranking. Bill says to ask yourself "Is there cannibalization?"

When working with companies that have a lot of channel partners and brands themselves you have to understand what the cost is of having that affiliate partner, he notes.

A lot of big companies (like Intel) are starting to use "co-op dollars" or subsidize their channel partners work by saying: Here’s a list of words you can use, here’s some acceptable copy and if you use those, we’ll pay "X" percentage like they do with the Intel Inside program. It subsidizes and you get almost twice the amount of budget.

"Sit down and do the math," says Bill. Does it make sense to compete or does it make sense to subsidize? Or do you not need to do anything at all? Subsidizing your partners is a big win for them and you let them do all the heavy lifting.

Organizing Big Sites for SEO

For Big sites with many pages, Mike asked Bill for some tips to keep them organized and pointed in the right direction. Bill offered the following advice.

Bill Hunt

The first thing is to take your words and tier them (such as three tiers). Bill returns to IBM as an example of having 53 million pages. You can’t do SEO on all of those outside of using templates. Tier the words…take 100 words for example, and assign them each a page and monitor how those are doing. Use the page ranking…is it meeting the criteria or is it not? Focus on making sure those primary phrases are there.

Another big issue is whether or not you are actually getting indexed. Bill says to use XML sitemaps and run your own spider to "make sure you’re not getting trapped out."

Using templates is big though. Bill says he has clients that have hundreds of thousands of pages, but they can fit neatly into five templates. "Optimize five templates, and anything that’s built in that template is search-friendly out of the box." It’s not quite perfect, he says, but it’s about 80% there, and then you can fine-tune it. I would also add that a good amount of internal linking in large sites is probably a good idea as well.

A huge site with tons of content would appear to be a gargantuan task when it comes to SEO, and without organization, it can be just that. Considering the advice Bill Hunt has offered though, it doesn’t have to be as intimidating of a process as it appears on the surface.

Optimizing Your Site When It’s Huge
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  • http://www.tlmarketing.net Tom Lindstrom

    Very informative post.Optimizing is not so hard when you have a WordPress blog, there are a few really good SEO plugins available.When it comes to linking, I try to deep link between my posts when it is relevant so the search engines will hopefully index more pages.

  • http://www.webprise.com Derrick

    I couldnt agree more, I would stray away from trying to tackle individual pages and their optimiziation but would tier them and use a lot of internal linking and try to establish deeply embedded links as much as I can.  XML site map would be a great idea as well and create and submit as many of these as one can..  Other than that work your link partners as much as possible.

  • http://www.impactmedialtd.co.uk/ Adrian Bold

    This is a good article but with the majority of the large sites being CMS driven it’s just a shame that many CMS platforms neglect SEO basics, such as individual Meta elements for pages making a simple job unnecessarily difficult.

  • http://www.theexpertseo.com Amit Mishra

    Hi Chris,



    Good idea and ethical technoiques to optimize the huge website.


    Thanks Chris. your advice will help me surly.



    • Chris Crum

      Well, the credit really goes to Bill, but I’m glad you found it useful :)

  • http://www.diamondonnet.com/ Diamonds

    Yep, modules are the key, just edit modules for optimization and it should do it for every page.  Internal linking is the hard part especially for webmasters.

  • http://www.WebVizibility.com WebVizibility.com

    Am I the only one who read the title of the Article and didn’t think of Steve Carell and "The Office?"

    I don’t maintain anything with more than 4,000 pages but even that required an automated sitemap builder and a tools to manage and match keywords with the page content.

    53 Million pages – wow.

    • Chris Crum

      Haha. Won’t say it didn’t cross my mind after I posted it. :)

  • http://www.marketshark.se/ Pengar

    Have to look over my keywords so my website can rank better. Very good infomation here on optimizing webpages.

  • http://www.greymatterindia.com/ SEO India

    I have a website named mojopages, this site has indexing issue..can anyone suggest what we will do for this

  • http://www.elbrusconsulting.com David Patterson

    IBM is a great example of what NOT to do on many topics, SEO just being one.  Don’t want to go into depth here but IBM Websphere would be one of their products I have heard a number of negative reviews from E-commerce directors using this platform. 

  • http://www.moovinonup.com/ saerch engine optimisation

    53 million pages i doubt many website have that amount

  • Guest

    Is that the stapler guy from "Office Space?"

  • http://www.agentur-eckert.de Guest Eckert

    How could I improve my sites with css-language? Kindly Regards H. Eckert


  • http://www.seovisions.com SEO Company

    Corporate SEO of this nature is a differnt ball of wax. No long are you as concerned with link equity, as they types of large websites generally have lots of inbound links.

    It is analytics and cohesion between function groups that takes the most time. On a smaller website, simple tasks like updating pages are often done by one person. In large organizations, even simple tasks can often be passed around between 2-3 (or more) units, each of which could case less (to be honest) that you are trying to unite them around SEO education.

    • http://www.diamondonnet.com/ Diamonds

      I agree, its a totally different kind of ballgame

  • http://www.socialpolitan.org Socialpolitan.org

    Nice article.  I would like to see an article on Optimizing SEO for Dynamic Websites.

  • http://www.indiaseoconsultants.com SEO Consultants India

    Some very valid points. For large sites I agree that good internal linking can do wonders. Also improving the crawlability factor can give good benefits. Picking up and tracking 100 odd keywords can be easily done on big sites and is effective way to track how it fares. What is important is to incorporate basic SEO training to web content and related teams to improve the effectiveness of the new content coming on site

  • http://www.pr-interactive.com web design company

    Seems like if you have that in mind when you are building the website and before it’s huge it won’t get out of control, but if you just keep adding without planning you are going to get a headache.

    Check out my Florida web design company, my website design portfolio and learn more about my web design companies website

  • http://aterkommandeinkomst.se/ Tj

    Very good information on keywords. Have to do some optimization work

    Any good softwares to speed up the SEO work You can hint me to?

  • http://www.mywebarticle.it Multilingual Directory

    Intresting Article..To improve a large website means to make a good reverse engineering work in beginning. Ibm and Intel are another History!

  • http://car2be.com/ Used Sterling

    Using templates is big though. Bill says he has clients that have hundreds of thousands of pages, but they can fit neatly into five templates. “Optimize five templates, and anything that’s built in that template is search-friendly out of the box.” It’s not quite perfect, he says, but it’s about 80% there, and then you can fine-tune it. I would also add that a good amount of internal linking in large sites is probably a good idea as well.

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