It is amazing what you can achieve in regards to SEO just by reaching into your Web 2.0 toolkit. A corporate brochure is about as Web 1.0 as you can get, yet even brochureware can be transformed in ways you may never have thought possible and boosting search visibility in the process.
To prove that point, we redesigned our Netconcepts.com site and launched it this month. It’s a typical corporate website, with a portfolio, testimonials, case studies, an article library, bios of our executives, information on our services, etc. The redesigned site is now powered by WordPress, a popular blogging platform.
Because it is now qualifies as a blog, our corporate site can start to enjoy some visibility in the blog search engines and directories and, because WordPress comes with RSS feed capability built in, we can now start to enjoy some visibility in the feed search engines and directories too. We don’t just have one RSS feed, by the way. We have many, grouped by topic (e.g. SEO, email marketing) and by type of resource (e.g. articles, testimonials), done through the use of tagging.
Speaking of tags, that is where the real SEO magic happens in this corporate site because every testimonial, every portfolio entry, every press mention, as well as each bio, article and case study, is broken out into a separate post. That post is tagged with appropriate keywords, for example all the testimonials are tagged with the word “Testimonials”. So instead of having a single testimonials page as we used to, we have a testimonials tag page that spans three web pages (at 10 posts per page) and each of the 30 testimonials is a separate web page now too. In other words, we want from 1 page to 33 pages; that’s a lot more search engine fodder, all with different keyword foci!
Spiders can find and index these tag pages through the text links contained within the tag cloud on the home page, and through text links underneath each post, and through links to “Related Tags” on each tag page. Related Tags are determined from posts that have the tag (from the tag page in question) in common. So, for example, because we have posts that are tagged with both “SEO” and “Testimonials”, therefore “SEO” appears as a related tag on the Testimonials tag page and “Testimonials” appears as a related tag on the SEO tag page. We display links not just to the related tag pages, but to intersections between related tags. So, for example, you will find on our Testimonials tag page a number of Related Tags in the right hand column, all with “AND” and “OR” links adjacent to each one.
Let me restate that a little bit differently just to clairfy… All our SEO-related items (testimonials, case studies etc.) are tagged with “SEO”. Consequently, there is a tag page that relates to “SEO” and a tag page that relates to “testimonials”. There’s even a tag page that relates to “SEO testimonials” — the intersection of those two tags. That makes for boatloads of tag pages, considering how many different permutations there are for various combinations of tags being “ANDed” or “ORed” together.
By moving to a more modular structure (based around Posts rather than Pages) along with the large inventory of new pages, allows us to capitalize on the “Long Tail” of natural search in ways we couldn’t dream of with our previous incarnation of brochureware.
Above the “Related Tags” you will see a RSS button which leads to a RSS feed specific to that tag page. We use that RSS feed to pull the latest articles, testimonials, seminars etc. and feature them as related content on the right column of our Services pages. For example, our Email Marketing page lists Related Articles on email marketing, because we’ve specified that the topic of the page is “email marketing” (in other words, the tag that it relates to). We use that information to grab RSS feeds of tag pages for email marketing + articles, email marketing + testimonials, etc.
Besides tagging, we have also employed many other blog SEO tactics, a number of which I detailed in my article for MarketingProfs, 10 Tips to Help Your Blog Soar in the Search Engines. This includes use of sticky posts, adding buttons to add a post to del.icio.us and various other social bookmarking services, and linking to a “Top 10″ list of sorts — namely, under “Free Stuff” on the home page, some of our best content from the past year or so.
To my knowledge this approach for search engine optimizing a corporate site has not been done before, particularly the aspect of breaking up all the discrete bits of content (each testimonial, each portfolio item, each FAQ, etc.) into individual posts and tagging all them, and then relating that tagged content with the appropriate Services pages and highlighting those as related content. If you have heard of a corporate site doing this, please let me know. I would love to check it out.
I also welcome any feedback on what we have done here on the Netconcepts site. We still have a few issues to tidy up with the site (so don’t expect perfection), yet overall I am quite pleased with how it all came together.
And, last but not least, the new redesigned site, although it doesn’t look markedly different from our old site, is better designed with XHTML and web standards in mind. No more tables for layout. Yay! That was long overdue. Now maybe we will see a rankings benefit in Google Accessible Search.