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In today’s article Cathy, our newest staff member, reflects on what she has learned about SEO since joining our team that she thinks all small business owner should know.

Search Engines need to find your website with the phrases customers use.

I like to think of keywords (or phrases) as your anchor or connection to the Search Engine. Since nearly half of all website visitors come from a Natural Search, (i.e. Google or Bing) keywords are now your connection to new customers too! If potential customers cannot find your site because your website’s language doesn’t include the search phrases searchers are using, you lose credibility. If you are not ranking for the keywords your customers are searching for then you need SEO.

But SEO is more than just keywords.

However not just keywords get you ranked. Google uses an algorithm (set of rules) made up of over 200 factors to evaluate your website. Evaluating how keywords are used on your website is just one factor. For example, did you know that where your website is hosted can affect your rankings? Google is always updating its algorithm to better meet the needs of Internet users and to be able to provide relevant search results.

Your website’s mobile responsiveness matters, a lot.

Google now places importance on how your site displays on various devices. A site can look great on a desktop screen but if it is not optimized to display on tablets or mobile platforms not only will Google show your website LESS in mobile search results, your website visitors will quickly move to a site that they can view with ease. If your website is not adaptive to various screen sizes and devices then you may need SEO.

Google uses Semantics to understand your website better than you think.

Do not underestimate Google’s ability to understand the language and context of a search query, or its ability to assess whether your website may have an answer to the search. Google now considers semantics in its algorithm which means that the context of your answer to search queries must be understandable. The days of creating countless pages with poorly written, over keyword-optimized content are gone. Searchers are looking for direct, understandable answers to their questions and Search Engines are doing their best to rank websites with these answers at the top. If your content is not meeting the criterion set by the search engine semantics then you need SEO.

Google favors local search results;
Local SEO gets you the exposure you need in your city.

Where are you located? Google now ranks your site on the information you provide about where you are and how your clients can reach you. If your site does not rank in your market area, you need SEO.

Images and video make up a huge portion of Google Searches.
Are your images and videos ranking?

Today, more than ever, the internet has become image driven. YouTube has taken videos to new markets worldwide and Google now indexes and ranks images, presentations, and videos to make it easier for the viewer to find what they are looking for. There are Best Practices to optimizing videos and images to ensure that your media content is noticed that you need to follow.

Don’t let other websites copy your content;
Duplicate content can have devastating effects on SEO.

This may seem like we are going back to high school but plagiarism is bad! You never want to copy someone else’s website content and you don’t want to risk the consequences of letting someone else copy yours!

Google penalizes duplicate content. Google gives credit to the first website it finds with the content (this even involves short phrases). Any other website with the content does not get any credit. There are ways to check your website for duplicate content and to tell if other websites are using your content in an unauthorized manner.

A website needs to load fast because visitors are impatient and Google recognizes this.

People are in a hurry. They want answers now. Google knows this and in order to provide these impatient visitors with the best experience Google search results will favor fast loading website results. If your website is slow to load you risk losing potential traffic and customers either because you won’t be shown in Search Results or because the visitors will leave your website.

Are you learning more about your website? Does this bring up more questions about how your website may be hurting itself in terms of SEO and rankings? One of our SEO consultants is available to speak with you. Simply call us toll free at 1-888-262-6687 or email to arrange a time that works for you to speak with us. 

Chris Genge

Chris Genge is the Founder and CEO of 1st on the List. Since 1997 he has helped hundreds of companies across North America with his technical expertise and practical upfront approach to Search Optimization and Digital Marketing. As a pioneer in his field, Chris has the ability to help clients set goals and achieve results all while fostering growth and teamwork amongst his incredible team of SEO experts and Web Designers.