Your company’s website is a portal into the digital arena, connecting people from all over the world. Ideally, it’s meant to be a sort of soapbox from which you are able to express yourself. But at some point, ideals and reality diverge, and your website ends up looking pretty shoddy.

Recently, a research firm called Bowen Craggs & Co. has been searching far and wide for the best corporate websites in the world to help regular business people put their best foot forward online. Their research has uncovered some interesting traits of the best sites in the world that smaller companies can emulate and use to attract their own customers.

This isn’t just some idle exercise either. Bowen Craggs staffers put together a 10,000-word report for every website that they reviewed, highlighting its pros and cons and making the case for why it deserved to be in their top 30 global internet sites. Here are some of the reasons Bowers Cragg chose websites to be on its very exclusive list.

Websites need to be expressive of a company’s identity

The first thing that the agency looked for was to see whether a website reflected the company brand. All too often, corporate websites lack the energy that their wider company represents and they fail to do justice to their products.

Bowers Cragg highlighted the Nestle’s website as a star performer in this category. It’s website, the company says, communicates its identity to the public effectively. Nestle knows that it is a confectionary company and it understands exactly what this means to its customers and the effect that it has on them.

Nestle, of course, is a corporation that sells products which are bad for people’s health. And so it’s used its website and social media accounts as PR tools to help blunt messages in the media.

According to David Bowen, one of the founders of Bowen Cragg, Nestle came under criticism in the press for marketing infant formula to African children, something which could potentially damage their health and lead to serious health consequences in the future.

The company, says Bowen, immediately mobilized its digital apparatus as a way of defending its reputation. That’s part of the reason why the company’s website is so good: it was the only tool that it had to defend itself.

Websites need to evoke excitement

Even with the help of the best website builders, many businesses fail to evoke a sense of excitement. But excitement is very important for businesses. Not only is it an essential ingredient for attracting new customers, but it’s also crucial for finding new talent.

Bowen Cragg put the German manufacturing giant Bayer on their list of best corporate websites because it was able to create excitement about working at the firm. Bowen says that the website makes it clear that the company is full of exciting opportunities to work on design and technology and that it is very appealing to highly skilled individuals.

Bayer, like Nestle, also has a reputation to manage. The company is involved in some rather controversial research efforts in the crop science sector. Like many other emerging biotech companies, it wants to modify crops at the genetic level to increase yields and make them more attractive to farmers.

There’s a huge backlash from the public against companies doing this kind of work and so Bayer has focused on addressing this through their corporate site. Concerned people can access all the information they need about the company’s activities.

Websites need to do a kot of shouting

There’s another problem facing companies wanting to break into the digital marketing space: it’s very crowded. Getting noticed can be a challenge, especially if your brand is not widely known. Bowen Cragg identified several companies whose brands were not known, but whose websites did a great job of letting them be known.

The top performer was Shell and BP competitor Eni, an Italian oil company. This company’s website was catapulted to the top of the rankings thanks to its bold design and the fact that it talks at length about all the good causes the company is involved in.

Like so many other businesses that damage the planet, Eni is keen to publicize all the good deeds that it does to try to manage perceptions among the public.

Websites need polish

Finally, Bowen says, sites need to be polished. He and his team came across many business websites where the interface was buggy and just didn’t work very well. This was mainly down to poor corporate governance. Nobody was overseeing the company’s website in many cases.