The world of search engine optimization is extremely complex and fast-moving. You will hear over and over again that you need a complex SEO strategy, you need to hire an SEO professional, and you need to pay for expensive SEO analytics software. The truth is, Google, Bing and other search engines keep their search algorithms extremely secret, and no one really knows what’s going on under the hood. They change often and sometimes without warning. There is an entire industry built upon trying to figure this all out.
This begs the question: what can a busy IR professional do to make sure content on their IR website is optimized for search results without investing a lot of time and money?
It’s easier than you think.
Getting the SEO Fundamentals Right
- Make sure your site is secure. Your URL should start with “https” and your web browser should tell you the site is secure. This is no longer a best practice; it’s a requirement. Make sure your hosting provider supports and recommends secure URLs.
- Your site should be responsive, meaning you have one website that responds to the screen size where it’s being displayed. This could be an iPhone or a 42-inch television. Make sure your hosting platform is optimized for responsive display.
- Accessibility to all users is critical, so make sure your site meets WCAG 2.0 Levels A and AA recommendations. Make sure your hosting provider makes accessibility a priority, and gives you the tools to easily make changes to ensure all of your content is accessible to all users.
The SEO Mantra Holds: Content is King
- Make sure your site has accurate, relevant, up-to-date, and engaging content. This will always be the most important thing you can do. Because of the regulatory nature of IR, your site already contains a lot of automated, relevant content. But how do you differentiate? Target your users, not the search engines. Make sure your homepage is updated regularly. Don’t just include upcoming events and recent news releases; have a short blurb describing the company, your products, and bullet out some recent results. Have a “Why Invest?” section on the homepage that is updated regularly. And make sure your CMS allows you to quickly update, preview, approve and publish content.
- Long live keywords. Use relevant keywords in your page titles, URLs and content. Examples of relevant keywords are your ticker symbol, your company name, your product names, and your officer names. The CMS you use should allow you to strategize on your title, URL, and content patterns, and insert them automatically when content is created.
- Know your limits. Meta descriptions should be kept to 150 characters, URLs to under 100 characters and page titles under 75. These levels not only impact SEO, but also accessibility and general user experience. Make sure your news release titles are of reasonable length! Most modern content management systems allow you to define these limits up front and intelligently truncate text so as not to negatively impact SEO. Ensure you are using this feature. And make sure you can customize the URLs easily.
Don’t Use Boilerplate Content Across Your Site
- Image search is very widely used. Make sure your image file names are keyword- and SEO-friendly, and your image alt tags are specific and descriptive.
- Use canonical tagging when there is overlapping content. Do your IR site and your newsroom include the same news release? Decide which page is the preferred source and link to it in the canonical meta tag of the other page. Your CMS should allow you to do this easily.
Be Smart and Efficient with SEO Decisions
- Make sure your URL is used on as many external authoritative sources as possible, such as your company’s page on Wikipedia, Facebook, Google Finance and Yahoo Finance. Always use your full URL in news releases.
- Make sure all of your pages include a feature that allows users to share them via social media easily.
- If a URL on your site changes, make sure you set up a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new URL. This helps users and search engines know that the URL of a page has changed.
- Make sure your website provider offers easy-to-use SEO tools built into the platform, including support for Open Graph, shortlinks and canonical tags.
You can’t control search results, but you can influence them. This influence requires patience however, as changes in results are organic and take time. Be patient and be consistent in your approach and the improvements to your site’s SEO will come.
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