1. Mobile Friendliness
The average daily internet usage on mobile devices surpassed that on desktop and laptop computers several years ago, so there should be no doubt remaining that websites need to be optimized for all screen sizes.
- Websites designed only for desktop or laptop computers are almost unusable on smartphone-sized devices, translating into poor user engagement and lost revenue.
- Websites which are not mobile-friendly will enjoy an ever decreasing amount of traffic from search engines:
- Google ranks mobile-friendly website higher in searches performed on mobile devices
- Google's proposed move to a "mobile first" index means that at some point mobile-friendly websites will rank higher in searches on all devices
2. Website Security
Since 2014 Google has given preference to websites secured using HTTPS (HTTP over TLS, or Transport Layer Security),regardless of whether they transmit confidential personal or financial information, and have signaled that they intend to make this a more important factor in the future. In addition, the latest version of Google's Chrome browser has started presenting a "Not Secure" warning on any website that asks users for a password, regardless of whether or not any other sensitive information is being submitted. With these reasons in mind, and with SSL certificates becoming more and more affordable, we recommend that all website owners consider upgrading their website.
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is nearly always the most important and one of the most cost-effective of all the marketing methods available to you. As we have seen, your website's mobile-friendliness and security are just some of many factors that influence how highly your website will rank in search engine results, but they are far from the most important factors. Here are some ways you can relatively easily yield more traffic (and customers) from search engine results this year:
- Make sure you are using Google's Search Console to receive straightforward recommendations about improving your website and it's appearance in search results from Google themselves. Acting on these suggestions can often result in a change of a few ranking positions, which can have a surprising effect on your business.
- The number and type of links to your website is still one of the most important ways in which Google ranks your website. It is therefore important to periodically perform an audit of all the links to your website to identify any potentially damaging links (which you can instruct Google to ignore or "disavow", using Google's Search Console) and have a plan for improving your website's link profile.
- If your website is for a business with a physical office location that serves your local community, you cannot afford to ignore Local Search Engine Optimization. As increasing numbers of searches are carried out on mobile devices and have a localized element (such as "pizza in Brooklyn"),any business that relies on local customers must ensure that they are doing everything they can to appear in localized search results.
4. Publish Original, High-Quality Content
Both our customers and regular readers of our articles will know that we are always telling them to publish original, high-quality content on a regular basis. Here's why we keeping issuing the same advice:
- The more pages of unique, quality content your website contains, as long as they are all related to your website's general subject area, the higher the chances of ranking in a reasonable position for any of the keywords that are important to you, particularly because Google now understands "natural language" queries much better than before.
- High quality content earns repeat visitors. The more visitors you have and the more regularly they visit, the higher your chances of turning them into customers, or retaining their custom.
- Links to your website are still one of the most important ways in which Google ranks your website, so giving your visitors a reason to link their website to yours is of vital importance.
5. Stay In Touch With Your Customers
These days, every one of your visitors will have their own unique online behavior, with each using different methods to stay in touch with each other and find out about their favorite brands. When it comes to being kept up-to-date with your news or blog posts, some of your website visitors will sign-up to your email newsletter, others will subscribe to your website's RSS feeds, and others would prefer you communicated with them via a social network of their choice. You should therefore make sure that you offer every conceivable way for your contacts to stay in touch with you. And, as a minimum, you should post the same news and updates that go into your newsletter to the major social networks, and you should advertise this fact on your website.