Recent surveys have found that just under 4 billion people are currently using the Internet. This comprises nearly half of the global population and marks an incredible 17% increase in users from 2016. In this “age of information,” it’s no surprise that people across the world are hankering to get online.
As a business owner, there’s truly no better time to have an online presence. Gone are the days where e-commerce businesses ruled the digital domain; these days people are perusing business websites to learn about services, products, background information, and much more. Websites now serve as a platform for more than just brand recognition–they’ve become a vehicle for delivering valuable content and building trust with an audience you may have never encountered otherwise.
With over 1.2 billion websites currently live online, the question you now need to be asking is this: is having a website enough? The answer, quite simply, is no.
There are currently dozens of free website building applications on the Internet, accounting for the rapidly growing number of sites, and unless your website is built with visibility in mind, it will quickly be buried in the vast sea of similar information and websites online. More specifically, it will be lost to the distant pages of a search result.
Digital marketing experts talk about search result ranking with intensity and sincere focus. And there’s good reason–research has shown that 91% of searchers don’t go past the first page of the search results and over 50% don’t look past the top 3 results. Given these stark findings, having a website that’s built to be noticed by search engines is the first and most important approach to creating your presence online. You can’t expect your market to find you with just any website–you need a website that’s equipped with effective search engine optimizations (SEO).
The good news with SEO practices is that most of the tactics for optimizing your website for high ranking in search results will also ensure that you have a better website overall. For instance, search engines like Google prefer websites that are mobile-friendly (meaning they have a specific layout for smaller, mobile devices) over those that are not. Considering that the number of users accessing the internet on mobile devices surpassed the number of desktop users nearly three years ago, having a mobile-friendly website is a necessity for multiple reasons.
The same is true for websites optimized for speed. Surveys have found that for web pages that take more than 30 seconds to load, 40% of visitors leave the website and 80% of them never return. Search engines take this into account and penalize slow websites by ranking them low in their search results. Fortunately, there are several ways to improve a website’s loading speed without compromising the quality of its content or overall design.
These are just a couple of examples of “organic SEO” techniques for improving your website’s visibility naturally. The organic SEO toolbox is a large one, including other strategies like proper meta-tagging, keyword placement, page organization, internal linking, and many more. These methods employ a natural approach to getting a website noticed by search engines and, when done correctly, will set your website up to organically improve its search result ranking over time.
When an organic SEO approach is combined with external SEO tactics, your visibility online improves rapidly. Because let’s face it: an invisible website is a waste of time. Investing the time and effort to boost your search result ranking makes maintaining a website worthwhile. Only then can it pay you dividends through increased traffic to your site and patients to your office.
Improving your visibility using an external SEO approach can be more complex than the organic tactics used when building and maintaining your site. The most critical and common external SEO factor is ensuring that your website is linked to by quality websites. “Quality website” is a phrase Google made popular when outlining its guidelines for quality ratings of websites. In their guidebook (previously only available to their search quality raters), they describe the various factors that define a “quality website.” Suffice it to say here that a well-designed website incorporating organic SEO tactics as mentioned above would meet their requirements.
External hyperlinks to your website from other quality websites bolster your search result ranking in the same way that recommendations or references from qualified professionals improve your personal reputation. This approach is commonly referred to as “link building” and is one of the most important elements in search engines’ algorithms for website ranking. If your website is being linked to by an increasing number of other well-designed sites, you can expect your ranking to steadily rise in the search results.
It’s important to note however that not all links are created equal. This is where link building can get tricky, as you need to ensure that the right websites are linking to your website. In fact, links to your site from websites that are deemed “low quality” by search engines can actually have a negative effect on your ranking, as your website’s evaluated quality diminishes merely by association.
Another important element with link building is that precise language is used when referencing your website in the link itself. This is referred to as the “anchor text” and best practices suggest keeping it as relevant as possible to the page on your website that it links to, without foregoing necessary keywords. Search engine optimizers use a wide array of strategies for creating valuable external links for their clients’ sites, with results that speak for themselves.
Many of us have heard others say (and perhaps even said ourselves) that time feels as though it’s speeding up. While people tend to chuckle at this and blame aging, research is beginning to suggest that technology is indeed speeding up our perception of time. Perhaps this is why it feels like just yesterday having a website (with a textured background and border, no less) was all we needed online.
Times have quickly changed and it’s clear that our websites need to change with it.