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Search Engine Optimization for Corporate Websites
Although your corporate website does not allow customers to purchase products or services online, your company can benefit greatly from optimizing your website for the search engines. Ranking well in the search engine results will not only increase your businesses’ brand awareness, it will bring increased sales leads, which will lead to increased ROI from your corporate website.
There are several things that can be done that will make a corporate website more search engine friendly—and making sure that the search engines like your website will help it get indexed properly. It will also increase the number of targeted visitors to the site, increasing it’s overall ROI. Most corporate websites use high-end web designers who charge a lot of money. If that sounds like your website, then you know that your corporate website is a major investment. By paying attention to the little details that make a big difference when it comes to search engine rankings, you’ll be able to allow your site to ‘earn its keep’ so to speak, and it might even become a part of your full-time sales staff.
The home page of the corporate site (www.yourcompanyname.com), is the most important page on the site. When visitors come to www.yourcompanyname.com it shouldn’t redirect to any other web page; after all, that’s your home page. And since most other websites link to your home page (www.yourcompanyname.com) rather than www.yourcompanyname.com/anotherpage.html,
Your home page’s title tag should include your company name. If your brand is “well known” then typically the title tag of the home page should only include your company name. However, if your company is not a “household name” or “well-known” brand, then including your company’s industry or keywords reflecting what your company does should be included in your title tag on the home page. Of course, whether or not you choose to include any keywords along with your company name is up to you—only you can make that decision. The meta description tag is often used in search engine listings and in other highly visible places like in search results and in website directory listings. Having a well-written meta description tag that contains a statement about what your company does along with your most important keyword phrases and your company name is a must. The meta keywords tag is optional, although it won’t hurt to include one that includes a few keyword phrases that describe what your company does; it’s also a good place to put keywords that won’t fit into your meta description tag. It’s important not to go overboard with it, though. A few targeted keyword phrases should be sufficient. Keyword research tools are tools that will tell you how many people search per day for keywords related to your business or your company’s products; these can be helpful when writing title tags and meta tags and when crafting your website’s copy.
When visitors come to the home page, they should easily find the name of your company, what your company does, and what products or services it provides. Adding text to your home page is imperative, as search engines don’t read graphics—they need text to be able to determine what your web pages are about. A small paragraph or two about your company should be sufficient, although more text is always better—adding links within that text directly to the company’s most important products is also a good idea. Other elements that should be included on the corporate website’s home page include links to the company’s most important products and services, links to the company’s contact information, links to the company’s management team, and the headlines of the company’s latest news or press releases. Keep in mind that the company’s home page should link to the most important content on the site.
Product or Services Pages
Using keyword research tools, you should be able to identify one or two important phrases that describe each product or service that your company offers. The title tags of product pages should include those phrases along with the company name. It’s best to include the keyword phrase(s), the name of the product, and then your company name in the title tag (in that order). The keyword phrase should appear first in the title tag since it’s the most important. Keep in mind that title tags are also what appears in the search results, so including the keyword phrase (typically what someone searched for) along with the product name and the company name will help entice the visitor to click on the link in the search results and visit your corporate website’s product page.
Each product or services page must be unique. We’ve already discussed the title tag and how that should include keywords that describe the product as well as the product name and the company name. Those words should also be included in the meta description tag and meta keywords tag, which also must uniquely describe the particular product or service. Do not duplicate meta tags across several product pages; it’s imperative that each one be unique or the search engines might not include those product pages in their search engine indices.
Each product or services page should contain at least several paragraphs of text; using the keywords (based on prior keyword research) is good practice, although you don’t want to “overuse them” in the copy. Keep in mind that although the text on products and services pages can also appear in product brochures and other sales literature, it’s important that it only appear once on the internet (on your product page). The search engines do not like duplicate content, as duplicate content can draw penalties from the search engines. Links to related products or services that the company offers will keep visitors on your site as well as help the search engine crawlers find all the pages; you might consider adding a “breadcrumb trail” as a part of the navigation, as well.
Product or services pages can help bring in sales leads for your company. When potential customers are looking for a product or service the company sells, they typically turn to search engines. When they find your product or services page listed in the search engines, the visitor will come directly to your product or service page. They’ll typically take a few seconds to glance at what you have to offer; it’s at that time when you need to give them some sort of “action” to take. For example, if your company’s product or services are very expensive you might consider allowing your visitors to download an Adobe Acrobat PDF version of your product brochure. Including a link in a prominent place on your product page will give them some sort of “action” to take. It’s also a good practice to ask them to fill out an online form with their contact information before they actually download the PDF file. Capturing their contact information will allow you to collect online sales leads, and allow your sales staff to follow up with prospective customers. If you do not include an “action” for your website visitors to take on your product pages, you’re losing out on potential sales leads. Furthermore, most web analytics tools allow you to track how those prospects heard about you and what they searched for at which search engine. Even though your sales process might be lengthy, it’s possible to track specific sales to keywords that the client searched for to find you. This can lead to increased marketing awareness and allow you to focus your marketing efforts in areas that are most profitable for your company.
Company News and Events
Many corporate websites include press releases, company news, and events (like trade shows) on their site. I mentioned earlier that it’s often useful to include the headlines of press releases and news on the company’s home page and links directly to pages on the site where that news is located. There should be a separate section on the site for press releases, as well as a separate page for events or trade shows that the company is attending.
Each press release should have its own page, and the title of the press release should be included in the title tag and the meta tags of that page. Press releases should include links to the products and services the company sells as well as a link to the company’s home page. Most often these are included in the “About CompanyName” section of the press release, and it’s a good practice to include direct links to the product pages on the site in that “about the company” section.
Whenever a press release is issued it should first be added to the website; then it should be sent out to the press or to the newswires. It’s important for it to be included first on the website as that’s the first place it will appear, insuring that the company is the author and originator of it; any other copies of the press release that appear on other websites will essentially be regarded as duplicates. This is key since it will help the press release be indexed first for that information, which will help that press release’s page get ranked quicker in the search engines for the information contained in the press release. Whenever a company announces news, people turn to the internet and search for that news; it’s best that the company’s own press release about that news show up first in the search engines rather than any other ‘copies’ of that press release that might show up in the media.
Oftentimes people search at the search engines for trade shows they’re going to attend. By including separate web pages about each trade show the company is going to attend or exhibit at, there’s a good chance that people searching for that trade show in the search engines will see the page on the corporate website mentioning the fact that the company is attending; this can lead to company and brand awareness as well as potential sales leads. If someone is searching for the trade show then they’re interested in that particular industry; so those types of visitors to your corporate site are extremely targeted and valuable.
Links to the Corporate Website
Many corporate websites already perform well when it comes garnering links from other websites. Links are important because they’re the currency when it comes to the search engines—the more links a website has from other websites the more popular or influential that website is when it comes to search engine rankings and overall traffic. Keep in mind that links are valuable, so making sure you get a link whenever possible will help. Websites that contain links that are extremely valuable are often overlooked; these include websites of trade associations or trade groups the company belongs to, as well as industry trade magazines (they often will link to your products and services pages and list your white papers). It’s also valuable for companies to be listed in industry portals and industry directories, as well as www.dmoz.org, the Yahoo! Directory, Business.com, and Best of the Web (www.botw.org). Best of the Web also has a blog directory, so if your company has a corporate blog it can be included there, as well. Corporate blogs can be a good source of additional content for your corporate website, as well as a place that will naturally get links from other websites.
Corporate websites can often be seen as an industry leader if it includes additional valuable content. For example, including a dictionary or glossary of terms is helpful. Including articles by your company’s industry experts can also lead to increased credibility (those articles can also be syndicated for use on other websites on the internet that will bring even more targeted visitors to your company’s website). Keep in mind that white papers are also valuable, and there are many websites that will list your company’s white papers at no charge.
When including information about your company’s executives, each executive should have his or her own web page on the site. The title tag should include the executive’s name, as well as the company name. The meta description and meta keywords tag should also include this information as well. Giving each executive their own web page on the site is valuable, as there are people who search at search engines for executives’ names or the company name and their job title.
Many companies typically own more than one domain name. It’s important that the corporate website have one main domain name—all others must be redirected to the main domain name using what is referred to as a “301 Permanent Redirect”. If you allow your company to have more than one domain name that brings up the same content, you’re asking for a possible de-ranking or de-listing in the search engines because of “duplicate content”. The search engines do not like to index duplicate web pages or duplicate websites.
Have you ever searched at a search engine for your company name? Most likely your corporate website will be listed first. But, what is listed second, third, or even eighth in the search results? Are all those other websites that mention your company positive? Are some of them negative? By adding an “in the news” section to your corporate website and linking out to positive articles and other websites that offer valuable information about your company, you will increase the chance that those positive references to your company will show up higher in the search results than the negative ones.
By making a few changes to your corporate website that don’t sacrifice its quality and good looks, you can make your corporate website pay for itself by turning it into a serious lead generation tool. Not only will your corporate website be found at the top of the search results, it will be seen as an industry leader and start to “show up everywhere” for your company’s most important keyword phrases, the phrases related to your products and services. And not only will the corporate website be found more often in the search engines, it will increase your company’s brand awareness.
About Bill Hartzer
Bill Hartzer manages the Search Marketing division of MarketNet, Inc., a leading full-service interactive web application development and web design firm in Dallas, Texas. Hartzer has infused MarketNet with his enthusiasm and vision for search marketing. Bill Hartzer is focused on developing results-oriented paid and organic search marketing programs to help clients increase visibility, broaden reach and maximize their return on investment.
Copyright 2003-2005 by Bill Hartzer. All rights reserved.