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Leveraging Your Employees For Local Search Rankings
Many management advice books recommend that businesses should make better use of what’s often their biggest investment: employees. Yet, a lot of companies fail to inspire, motivate and exploit the good ideas of their employees. Local search marketing often has an employee component that’s overlooked as well. Read on for some tips on leveraging your employee capital for better local search rankings!
In the Business 1.0 world, employees were often treated as depersonalized, faceless drones, replaceable cogwheels in corporate machinery. This perspective often seems to be reflected in traditional corporate websites where individual employees are relegated to the background, and rarely are any individuals highlighted or recognized on those company webpages.
For example, one of the most famous employees of the Masry & Vititoe legal firm in California is Erin Brockovich, the famous legal clerk and crusader for pollution victims depicted in the film that bears her name, starring Julia Roberts. However, Masry & Vititoe’s website does not rank in the first couple of pages of search results for “erin brockovich” keyword searches in Google, in large part because the site does not have a profile page dedicated to Erin.
There’s no employee profile page dedicated to Erin Brockovich on the Masry & Vititoe website. As their
most-famous employee, this constitutes a missed opportunity.
Now, I can imagine that Masry & Vititoe might feel conflicted about presenting a profile page about a former employee, but they should’ve had a profile page while Brockovich was still an employee, and then altered the page slightly after she left the firm, clearly marking on it that she’s a former employee, and linking to her personal site. Masry & Vititoe likely does not realize that they’ve missed out on having more traffic and in-bound links because of this squandered opportunity, and those inbound links could be the difference between having their site rank better than their competition’s for various keyword searches.
In some companies, the only employees mentioned on the corporate website are the executives, but even for these companies, those pages are rarely designed properly for search. Quite a few major corporations list out all of their executives on a single page (including Google!), and this just is not effective as having a dedicated page for each exec which “sings” a unique song that’s more precisely targeted for the individual’s name than a group page ever would be.
Within local search, the types of businesses which have the greatest need to feature key employees are doctors offices and legal firms. Some of these have learned over time to create good webpage content around their partners’ identities, but for many there is still room for improvement.
One doesn’t have to be a medical clinic, legal firm or large corporation for there to be a strategic benefit to presenting employee pages. Even small-to-medium businesses may often benefit from featuring a few of their top employees on their websites.
In cases where an employee may be known and searched-for online, companies should seriously consider highlighting that employee on their website to make their businesses far easier to find.
Here’s how to do it:
- Place the employee’s name in the Title and H1 tags on their profile page.
- Include a brief biographical sketch of the employee within the body text on the page, and explain what they do for the company.
- Include contact info for the employee, and hCard Microformatting around their contact information.
- Include a photo image of the employee. Use a descriptive caption below the image and within the image’s ALT text parameter.
- Include information about whether the employee has special certifications or won special awards in the past, related to their professional work.
- Have a unique phone number for each employee. If that’s not realistic, then using the central office/business number is fine.
- If various employees post on the company blog, be sure there’s a unique author’s page for each one, and make it so their name is hyperlinked to it from each of their posts. If you already have profile pages on the company website, link the blog author names to these profiles—it doesn’t make sense to have two pages for each employee.
- Encourage employees to register-for and update their LinkedIn profile pages, and link those pages back to the company’s main site.
- Likewise, link the employee profile pages on your site over to their profiles on LinkedIn.
- If employees have positive ratings with speciality rating sites such as RateMDs.com, DrScore, LawyerRatingZ.com and Avvo, link their profiles on your site to their rating pages on those sites. This is just the sort of info you’d like to see performing well (ranking well) in search results!
- For larger companies, seriously consider setting up an employee directory that allows searches by name or by office/location, and also which links down to all employee profile pages, allowing profiles to be crawled and indexed by the bots.
- Finally, encourage your employees to link to their own profile pages from their blogs and personal websites to help reinforce those pages’ rankings.
Employees are one of your top assets, so consider using them in this way to augment your findability in search engines. But do so in a mutually-beneficial manner. Not only is this an opportunity for your site to be more easily found by people trying to find your employees, but this is also an opportunity for you to promote your employees and what they do for you at the same time. The employee/company relationship should be symbiotic and not unidirectional. Using this method, you can help each other to be more successful.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.