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Inside the Intranet – ESEO

Optimizing the Findability of your Content on an Intranet

In any organization it’s well known that inefficiencies and/or waste, especially wasted time, can significantly impact the bottom line. This is a key driver in the explosion of artificial intelligence (AI), automation, and enterprise search integrations. These business intelligence tools (BI or BITs) are being rapidly implemented in most organizations throughout the world with one specific goal in mind: savings. Today we will take a closer look into one of those tools, enterprise search, a core foundation of search that often gets overlooked, Enterprise SEO (ESEO). We will also go over some ESEO best practices and how your organization can benefit from ESEO.

ESEO .v. SEO

On the surface, it can be pretty difficult to tell the difference between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Enterprise SEO, primarily because they share many of the same characteristics. The main differences between the two only becomes apparent when you look deeper into the environments they are deployed in and the desired outcome of that deployment.

Deeper into the Differences

At their core, ESEO and SEO both leverage keywords, meta descriptions, semantic markups, rich content, and backlinking to optimize content for search. This is where they split into two very distinct disciplines. 

With SEO, we are optimizing our site content for external search engines like Google or Bing. Our primary goal is providing their bots with comprehensive SEO that can be indexed and then served to users when they enter search queries related to our content. When done properly, this correlates into our site and/or content ranking higher in the Search Engine Results Page’s (SERPs) and, more importantly, results in increased site traffic and conversions.

When dealing with ESEO, we leverage the same SEO tactics when optimizing our content, but our intent is much different. In an ESEO environment, we are specifically optimizing content so our internal search engine (like our company’s intranet) can quickly index our content and deliver highly accurate results to internal users, such as employees, customers, and vendors. 

The primary goal is preserving scalability and ensuring our users receive content that is highly relevant, thereby improving findability and user experiences.

Why prioritize ESEO?

The short answer is, efficiency. By implementing ESEO, we remove the burden from our developers having to heavily “tweak” the search engines weighting to provide users with accurate results for their queries. This not only improves the efficiency of the search engine, it reduces costly developer overheads while streamlining productivity and workflows for users. These efficiencies translate into significant savings for organizations.

If we look at a scenario without ESEO in place, you will find users receiving mixed search results that can have little to no relevance to their query. It also places a large amount of pressure on developers to constantly adjust weighting in the search engine so users receive results that are more inline with their queries. Both of these can be a laborious and costly. 

This is why prioritizing ESEO on an organization’s intranet is a vital piece of the overarching enterprise content strategy puzzle when developing an enterprise content management system. 

Laying the Foundations

In order for ESEO to really shine, it’s important to have strong content foundations in place. We accomplish this by building off the core fundamentals – keywords, accurate title tags, meta descriptions, semantic markups, rich content, backlinking, and the newest addition- structured data (we won’t dive into this particular fundamental in this post). With these fundamentals in place we streamline the search engine’s discovery process by providing it with a “snapshot” of our page structure, what it contains, and any links that flow in and out of the page.

Because of the large underlying role ESEO plays in the search process, it’s important to have a rock solid ESEO strategy and stringent application policy in place prior to the implementation of any Enterprise Search Appliance.

Here are some ESEO best practices;

Do:

  • Make sure your titles accurately represent what is on the page.
  • If your page contains information about “widgets” it’s a good idea to have your title reflect that. Example – “Widgets: What are they good for?”
  • Have descriptive URLs.
    • https://yoursite.com/blog/how-to-create-descriptive-urls 
  • Use keywords in the content.
    • The more you can add the keyword that is specific to the content, the better the page will rank in the search results.
  • Use backlinks to cross reference other pages information on your site.
    • Backlinking is especially helpful when you have pages or information that are relevant to other content. It creates a quick way to access them and provides the search engine with a neat web of links to leverage. One note on this-make sure you don’t overload your pages with backlinks, this can have an adverse effect and make it difficult for users to read.
      • Here is an example of overloading your content with backlinks and making it difficult for users to read.

Avoid:

  • Irrelevant page titles.
    • It’s fun to have clever page titles, but it can cause issues with your content being pulled into the search results. Here’s an example – let’s say you develop a blog post about mobile devices versus desktop computers and you title the page “The Great Divide.” It will likely rank much lower in the SERPs or not show up at all in a query about mobile devices or desktop computers.
  • Putting content on a page that doesn’t match what the topic of the page is about.
  • Abstract or default URL structures.
    • If your page is about kitten mittens, the URLs below are an example of what not to do.
      • https://yoursite.com/blog/123456
      • https://yoursite.com/blog/untitled-1 
  • Embedding text in images and videos.
    • They may look pretty but embedding text prevents the search engine from indexing the content and makes it impossible for users to copy information.
    • Resolution and displaying correctly is another issue, but we won’t dive into that in this article.

“Best Bets”

When EK’s search experts design and implement Enterprise Search for an organization, a common feature that’s included is “Best Bets.” This is a powerful tool that allows content authors to curate the “Best” content from the website and places the Best Bet, that is relevant to the user query, at the top of search results. This in turn makes content discovery highly efficient and drastically improves the overall user experience.

Best Bets can be an extremely useful ESEO feature, but it’s important to note that the content strategy used when selecting Best Bets must be implemented with care. 

Do:

  • Be selective when flagging content that you want to be Best Bets.
  • Have a strategic Best Bets plan.
    • This includes employing and enforcing strict Best Bet selection policies.
    • Along with specific actions that address any issues that may arise – duplicates, multiple best bets in the same category, etc.

Avoid:

  • Flagging multiple pages that share similar content as Best Bets.
    • This can quickly spiral out of control and lead to your searches being populated with nothing but Best Bet results, thereby defeating the purpose of Best Bets.

Summary

Implementing a sound ESEO strategy can be complex and time consuming because there are so many small details requiring attention. With the right plan, you can invest in improving the ESEO on your Intranet every month. If you are interested in crafting an ESEO plan or if you think your organization can benefit from implementing ESEO as a part of your content strategy, contact Enterprise Knowledge for assistance.

 

Glossary

We were tossing around a lot of ESEO lingo so here’s a Glossary of terms and a list of Synonyms we used in this article:

Index – The index entry for each page describes the content and location (URL) of that page. To index is when a bot fetches a page, reads it, and adds it to the index.

Bot – The generic name of a search engine crawler. Bots crawl the web constantly.

SEO – Search engine optimization: the process of making your site better for search engines.

 

Acronyms

Alt TextAlternative Text

EKEnterprise Knowledge

ESEO – Enterprise Search Engine Optimization

HREFHypertext Reference

SEOSearch Engine Optimization

SERPSearch Engine Results Pages

URLUniform Resource Locator

HTTPHypertext Transfer Protocol

HTTPSHypertext Transfer Protocol Secure

Nick Babb Nick Babb Nick Babb has an extensive background in marketing, design, and web development that spans well over a decade. Nick’s diverse experience allows him to provide organizations with highly successful strategic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) programs and optimized user experiences. More from Nick Babb »