Of all the pieces in the online marketing puzzle, SEO is often the most elusive. With search engine algorithms changing almost weekly, it can be difficult to keep up, but the good news is that there's still a set of current best practices that you can use to your advantage. Here are five of the ones you absolutely must have if you want to see your business rise through the rankings in 2020.
1. A mobile-optimized website. Given that Google has been paying increased attention to the needs and desires of mobile device users for several years now, and about half of all website traffic is from mobile devices, it's surprising how many businesses still don't have a website with responsive design. With mobile-first indexing becoming more common, it's essential that you check with your web developer to make sure that your website is optimized for all devices, regardless of screen size. Not doing so can cost you both rankings and organic traffic.
2. A focus on your local area. Nearly 90% of consumers who do a local search contact or visit a store within a day. If you're offering products and services for people in your local area, you'll want to make absolutely sure that those people can find you, and that search engines are telling them exactly where you are. Double-check that each page of your website has your business name, address, and telephone number in the footer. In addition, make sure you claim your Google My Business page, fill it out completely, and update it regularly with photos and information about your business.
3. Answers to burning questions. Building an online presence used to be about promotion; now it's about education and providing value. What questions are your target customers asking most frequently? What problems do they need to solve? Make sure that your website content focuses on answering those questions - it will help your search performance and establish you as an expert in your field.
4. More video. Little by little, you should be replacing static images on your website with video wherever possible. Whether it's product demonstrations, help tutorials, or staff bios, videos can bring your business to life in a way that impresses both visitors and search engines. What's more, nearly three-quarters of businesses have reported that videos have triggered significant growth in their conversion rates.
5. SSL. With security being one of the top concerns in the online world, it's crucial that your web visitors not have any doubts about how secure your site is. Browsers like Chrome now warn users when they're visiting a site that doesn't use SSL certificates, and search engines give priority to sites that are secure. There's no downside to having SSL certificates - your rankings will be higher, and your visitors will feel comfortable trusting your site.
The great thing about SEO is that you constantly have opportunities to improve it. Tweak a few things this week, implement some other upgrades next week, and so on down the line. Within a short time you should start seeing some real results - not only in improved search rankings, but in customer happiness, as well.