These days nearly every business, regardless of industry, has a website. A website reaches a vast audience, easily and effectively. However, to be truly competitive, your site doesn’t just have to look good and perform well, it must also be visible. The digital world is a constant battle for attention, so how can you make your site stand out from the crowd?

The answer is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Its purpose is to increase your visibility and drive traffic to your site. And, if you’re wondering if SEO really makes a difference, ask yourself this question: How often do you look past the first page of Google results? If your answer is never, you’re not alone. In fact, 95% of web traffic goes to sites on the first page of Google. This is why SEO is crucial when creating a website. You could be losing a majority of your audience before you even get the chance to show what you can do. SEO can step in to give you the upper hand when there are so many other sites jockeying for position.

SEO may sound a little daunting, but this article will help target the most important tasks. All the time and money you spend designing your site doesn’t matter if people don’t visit it. If you’re not utilizing SEO, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities for your business.

  • Start by doing your research

    It seems obvious, but it’s a step that’s frequently overlooked. Visit your competitor’s website. What is it missing? How can you do better? A tool like Semrush, KeywordKiwi or similar sites can help find keywords or terms that customers might search for. Not only will you have an idea of what you should include on your site, but this information will come in handy later when creating content.

  • Plan for the future 

    When designing your website, you may want to consider setting up a space for a blog. Blogs are one of the most effective SEO strategies since search engines look for relevant content. Even if you aren’t quite ready to begin blogging, if you create the area for it now, you won’t have to worry about it later.

  • Create high-quality content

    In SEO, content is king. You’ll hear this time and again, and for good reason. Search engines crawl websites and rank them according to the value it creates for the user. Blogs are an excellent tool to boost SEO. Remember your analysis on your competition and those search terms? Answering those queries as thoroughly as possible not only attracts readers, but search engines alike. Generating high-quality content is one of the best ways to help improve your ranking.

  • Write for your audience

    Sometimes content is written with the sole intention of ranking well in Google. While you should be targeting keyword phrases, you want to avoid over-optimization. It can make your content hard to read. Focus on writing for humans and not for search engines.

  • Think mobile first

    Mobile-friendliness is quickly becoming a key factor in SEO rankings. More people use their mobile devices than desktops for searches. Many sites are created for desktop and then scaled back for mobile, but, to be effective, sites need to target the mobile-user. Capitalize on your mobile customers and you’ll gain a competitive edge. A tool like this can give you an idea of how your site is performing and where you can improve it.

  • Focus on fast

    Page speed and mobile usability are tied together. Mobile users expect answers fast. Sites that take more than three seconds to load lose over half their visitors, according to Google’s research. Speed not only affects your SEO, but your bottom line. Google recently debuted Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) which is its answer to the growing mobile trend. Like anything, there are trade-offs to having faster page speeds. This article can help break down AMP, and its pros and cons, a little more in depth.

  • Links are vital

    The foundation of the Internet is built upon links. Your website needs a mixture of internal and external links. Not just any old links will do, though. These need to be links to reputable sources that offer value to your users. Professional organizations and community websites can be great places to find relevant, authoritative links. Keep in mind, if you’re creating high-quality content, you will find more opportunities to link to legitimate sources.

As search engines evolve and become smarter, SEO becomes more and more important in the digital marketplace. It’s not enough that your website is attractive, it must be visible to your audience. SEO can help maximize your visibility and drive traffic to your site. There are many factors that can impact your SEO, but this list is a good place to start. It offers some of the simplest ways to boost your ranking. After all, you put in the money and effort to build your site, now make sure your audience can find it.