July 11, 2013: I recently caught a tweet from SEO Mike Arnesen highlighting an article on Medium about “The Future of About Us Pages“. The article provides perspective into why the “About Page” (or section) should become a more central piece of an organization’s story and brand. It is certainly true that in many cases, the “about section” is left stagnant, only updated when there are leadership changes or major news updates.
And that should change.
Social media is part of the reason. Prospective buyers have greater access and ability through social media to research a B2B vendor. Buyers can get beyond company generated collateral and product pages, in the effort to get a true understanding of the organization’s culture, values, and commitment to their customers.
But once B2B buyers make a decision to purchase from a vendor, or get more information, they still need to contact that vendor in some manner. And the website is usually part of this process. I would assume that most B2B buyers are looking for further support, via company information, that their decision to explore solutions from the organization in question is a good decision.
Analytics supports this assumption:
Just over two-thirds of the B2B companies we have access to analytics for have “About” or “Company” section pages in their top 10 most viewed pages reports for 2013 year to date. And when reviewing “Behavior Flow” reports in Google Analytics, company pages are often at the top of the list of 1st interactions when visitors started on the home page and did not drop off immediately.
Company pages can become a key asset in providing validation of the brand story and curating thought leadership. Indeed I wrote about how “Company Pages” were an underrated content marketing asset for B2B marketers. And as B2B marketers continue to struggle with differentiating their brand message, perhaps the first place to start is with their About Page.
Here are some thoughts on how B2B marketers can create a better “About Us” experience, by blending SEO, social media, and general B2B internet marketing opportunity into their organization message in this section.
General information about the company is important but don’t forget to add context as well. Think about it: one of the main reasons Google became such a successful search engine was because they believed it was what other sites said about a web page (IE, inbound links) that made it relevant for search engine results.
Showcase results that illustrate your organization’s influence and story online. Examples include:
- References to organizations, memberships, and industry affiliations
- Third party bylines, mentions, and press coverage
- Media assets such as executive interviews and product demonstrations
- Sponsorships, community participation, speaking engagements, and other forms of industry thought leadership
- Links to company social media assets
I should be clear that I am NOT advocating a liberal “linking out” policy, which is a common question we get as consultants. Outbound links should be managed. As your archive gets larger, focus on sharing only the best of the best links that support and add value to your organization’s brand.
Perhaps the most important significant search related initiative, directly related to about information, that B2B marketers could invest in developing, is authorship capability. Here aresome resources for setting up authorship:
- Google: Author information in search results
- The Definitive Guide To Google Authorship Markup
- Google Authorship Markup: How to get your picture in search results
- Claim Google Authorship for Your WordPress Website in 3 Easy Steps
- How to Display Author Information in Organic Search Results
I haven’t done a formal review but I would estimate that over half of the keyword themes we target on behalf of our clients have search engine results that include some sort of authorship markup.
How would your B2B organization know whether authorship was an important initiative?
Simply review the search engine results for your most important keyword targets. If you start seeing authorship mixed much more prominently in search for these targets, it is time to consider moving this up the priority list for development.
Organizational Rich Snippets
Schema and rich snippets don’t get a lot of coverage in the B2B space because (I tend to believe) the focus on rich snippets has been oriented more towards local results. But almost every B2B organization has a physical location(s) and we can’t forget that conferences and tradeshows as well as webinars and virtual events represent some of the greatest sources of quality leads for B2B marketers.
Via Google Webmaster Resources, organization information that is marked up in the body of a web page can help Google understand location, events, and reviews as well as be displayed on in Google+ Place Pages. At the very least B2B marketers should consider establishing their Google+ Places information but also consider event tagging, which could be used for company-specific events as well as tradeshow and conference participation, webinars, and virtual events.
For B2B e-commerce sites, make sure to look at my Search Engine Land column on website enhancements as well as Aaron Bradley’s write-up on the integration of GoodRelations into Schema.org and the impact on e-commerce websites.
Clearly Defined Contact Information
It’s great to tell a compelling story and have excellent visuals and supporting material but don’t forget the conversion opportunity. Clear call to actions are important, whether that be to specific product information, content marketing assets, or company contact forms and information.
Here are a few examples of B2B companies doing this well (and why I think that is the case):
- Thumbtack – I like how as you scroll down the screen to learn more “About” information, you end up at a concise set of contact information, including address, phone number, email, as well as “Post a Request” in a much more distinguished blue button at the bottom of the page.
- 37 Signals – In addition to the timeline (I’ll talk about that below), 37 Signals pulls you down right into their key product offerings, as well as secondary services and content assets.
- Virb – I like how they organize the page, highlighting personnel and the organization (with social media profile links), and a concise call to action at the bottom of page.
Celebrate The Story
This last idea is more of an opinion than recommendation; and it doesn’t have any direct relationship to search or social media. Facebook changed “About” information when it created a literal timeline in one’s social media profile. There is a story that can be told and continues to develop as an organization grows, learns, and is (hopefully) successful.
I personally like the idea of showcasing an organization’s timeline. While it could be daunting to build (especially for B2B organizations that have been around several years), a timeline helps interested buyers understand how a company has grown and matured in a much easier to digest manner.
Examples of a few timelines I like:
As technological innovation and social media continue to push greater interaction and accessibility to information, the need for transparency extends beyond product and solution and into the entire B2B organization.
And even though many social media applications and behaviors have a greater consumer-oriented appeal, they change how individuals want to consume and access information, and interact with the organizations they work with (personally and professionally).
The B2B organizations about page information should come into greater focus. Hopefully some of these ideas resonate but I would love to read your thoughts and perspective via comments below.