The world of SEO is always changing. But one thing stays the same: SEO matters. If your website isn’t ready for “Next-Generation” SEO, you may want to start asking yourself how to catch up. Hopefully this short piece will help!

Google still reigns supreme in terms of internet search, with July 2019 statistics showing that it holds over 92% of the worldwide search engine market. Probably no surprise to most readers of this piece: after all the average person conducts 3-4 Google searches per day. Combined with the fact that most people refuse to go past the first page of Google when conducting a search, that means that if your website isn’t among the first 10 Google search results, you could be losing valuable business opportunities.

A hip, modern, sleek website is brilliant, but if no traffic is going there then it’s sort of like being all dressed up with nowhere to go.

Google likes to keep digital agencies on their toes with regular algorithm updates: algorithms which of course ultimately determine the way websites are ranked in search results. On that basis, it is vital to be aware of when updates will launch, knowledgeable around how they will impact your own site and capable of making the changes needed to keep your business in the game.

For example, the PageSpeed update rolled out by Google in July 2018 saw priority given to websites with quicker loading times, and left slower websites in the dimly lit search engine abyss (a.k.a. Google Search Results Page 2). Although larger corporations with strong brands and large marketing budgets may not immediately see the negative impacts of this, smaller businesses could be greatly impacted by these changes without even being aware of them in the first place.

A Game Plan for Small Businesses

Although smaller businesses will find it harder to stay on top in terms of Google Algorithms, there is hope!

Firstly, and most obviously, a good agency should fill the gaps in in-house skills that smaller businesses will suffer from. And similarly, they should always deliver sites that are fast.

These businesses can also play to their strengths through a local SEO strategy. Sure, a larger company has the advantage over a smaller one in terms of its reach and customer base, but a smaller business has always been able to use location as a weapon. The same is true online. .

Local SEO strategy uses location (once you give your permission) as the main component of the Google search algorithm which changes what websites are ranked first. This means that the local flower shop that is a 5-minute walk away will have a much better chance of ranking around, or even above, the superstore that is a 15-minute bus ride away.

Meanwhile the search engine usage landscape is changing from in-home to on-the-go. Web interaction through a handheld device has become a standard daily activity, and most digital agencies are by now well aware of the importance of mobile experience.

But this impacts SEO performance too. Mobile Friendliness affects Google rankings, and therefore should be an increasingly important aspect of any SEO strategy. If your digital agency thinks differently, then it could be time to get a second opinion!

Finally, Next-Generation SEO requires an understanding of the need for an uncomplicated user experience. If a website is difficult to navigate or the content is unclear, irrelevant or confusing then - of course - a user may not wish to spend time on the website. The reality, however, is that clientele most likely won’t even be able to find the site: again thanks to Google’s algorithm. Google search engine operates in a three-step process of crawling, indexing and then ultimately ranking websites based on the content, HTML and architecture.

This means that if Google finds your website to be difficult to navigate, or to have low quality or stagnant content, your site will have a harder time appearing first in searches.

The solution? First, work with your web designer to create a site with a progressive task path and clearly labeled links, buttons, tabs and sections so that no one has to play the guessing game to find the desired information. Second, keep your website up to date and create new content through blogs, videos, and images. These two simple changes will not only keep Google happy, but they will also keep users coming back which could ultimately translate into conversions.

It’s important for all businesses operating in the online space to understand that impeccable SEO does not happen overnight. It’s an ongoing process that takes time, patience, trial and error and maybe even a few moments of wanting to throw your computer at the wall. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t share all of their optimization secrets and ranking factors, but working with your digital agency to unravel SEO trends and implement a plan of action can be a driver toward your website’s digital success.

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