If sorting out the corporate website is your ambition for 2010, it can be pretty difficult to know where to start and what to prioritise. After all, you’re bound to have a budget to stick to. So where should you start?

Christmas indulgence is over and we’re all racing back to the office filled with positivity, enthusiasm and hopefully fading hangovers.

If you’re planning to plough this positivity into your website then great. You’re not too late to increase your customer base through the internet and, thanks to localised search and long-tail keywords, you can still compete with companies that have been online since the start.

So, if you’re one of the millions of companies with a static, dated website that barely brings you a customer a week, where should you begin?

Read on for my five top pointers, but remember that there are hundreds of other ways to enhance your website if you do have a bigger budget. I’m sure some of my fellow online marketers will add their preferred priorities in the comments below, so take the time to read them.

Rewrite your site

Before making sure people can find your site, make sure you’re proud of the content they will find.

I sometimes hear companies bemoaning the uselessness of the web at attracting visitors, and then I see their websites, which are often useless, static pages written without any understanding of keywords, often filled with poor spelling and grammar. They should be relieved no one is finding their site to see how rubbish it is!

So, work on your words. Rewrite your whole website and employ a copywriter if you’re not too skilled at creating appealing marketing text.

Redesign with SEO in mind

If you’ve written your pages without considering SEO, the chances are your website’s design is not up to scratch either.

You may well benefit from bringing in some outside help if you’re not hugely techie – and make it good help. Getting the receptionist’s teenage son to put a few pages together for £50 is unlikely to result in a Google-mastering website.

Speaking from experience, it’s very frustrating to be called in to work on a website’s optimisation just after a (completely useless) redesign. If you can’t do it, get help.

What kind of things should you or your agency be considering? Use keywords in your page names, optimise your website’s meta description tags, fill your pages with internal links. There are many small but useful ways to incorporate SEO into your web design.

Keywords, keywords, keywords

Of course, before you rewrite your website, make sure you know and understand the keywords you intend to use.

It’s really not all about stuffing your sentences with the most commonly searched for term. If you sell car insurance then you don’t need to stuff car insurance into every sentence you write about car insurance.

In fact, you’re likely to have more success with so-called long-tail keywords, more specialised phrases that are particularly relevant to your niche business. You can research your keywords using free resources like Google Adwords.

Understand your paid placement

Once your site is fit to be seen, you will want to start attracting visitors as quickly as possible. Organic search can take some time to get going, but with intelligently applied pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, you can immediately increase your visitor numbers.

Take some time to really research your keywords and then you can allocate your budget intelligently, balancing cost and popularity to ensure a steady stream of relevant customers.

Socialise online

I am not going to claim that using social media is free because, of course, it isn’t, as it requires a commitment from you or a member of your staff. Dedicating anyone’s time is undeniably an investment.

However, spending time on a relevant social platform can have excellent benefits. You’ll become a recognised name within your industry, you can answer potential customers’ questions and attract them to your website, and you can give your business a great dose of publicity.

Use forums, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, any relevant platform, and you should see an increase in interest and visitor numbers.

Of course, this can be a slow burning tactic, so it’s important to dedicate regular time on an ongoing basis. Sporadic socialising won’t work.