With over 40,000 search queries per second, Google is the most popular search engine in the world. Around 80% of consumers will start their search online before contacting your business. Your website and customer reviews are some of your most powerful tools to make a great first impression on consumers, but what good are they if your website is buried in search results?

Heading into 2017, search engine optimization (SEO) will likely become even more important, with more and more people heading online before making purchasing decisions. If you don’t know your current Google search ranking, it’s easy to find out.

  • Conduct your own search queries (accurately) and see where your business lands.

  • Use a free rank checking tool and see how you rank across various keywords, locations and devices.

Your search ranking will vary based on keywords, mobile devices, location and how people search, so you should test a large variety of searches when assessing your ranking. Remember: the most important factor for SEO is user engagement. If your site is user friendly and providing relevant content to searchers, you’re well on your way to proving your site’s value to Google. Check out these five things you can do now to improve your search ranking.

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1. Update your content.

How fresh is your web content? If the last time you updated your website was years ago, you’ve got some freshening up to do. When you update your website’s content, it triggers search engine bots to crawl your site and review your ranking. Work with a web content writer to make sure you’re using the right keywords, at the right rate to optimize your content for search.

Pro tip: Use plain English. Avoid over-stuffing your content with keywords and make sure, above all, that your content is readable and user friendly.

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2. Boost your page load speed.

Google measures your page load speed as a search ranking factor. While your page speed might not be the top reason why you aren’t ranking higher for various keywords, updating it can create a ripple effect for other important ranking factors like bounce rate and number of pages viewed. If your site is slow to load, users may leave and return to search. Make sure things like ads, redirects, 404 errors, and social media scripts aren’t slowing down your website and hurting your search engine ranking.

Pro tip: Test your website speed using a free online tool like this one.

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3. Optimize your images.

Because Google can’t “see” images, search engine bots rely on file names, alt tags, titles, descriptions, and captions when “viewing” your website’s images and ranking their usefulness for users. File types are also important. JPEG and PNG images are best for photographs, artwork, and graphics. Last but not least, make sure you’re using the appropriate image quality and file size for your website. Too large of a file size will slow down your website, and too low can reduce the quality and blur your image.

Pro tip: Users are very sensitive to how images render. It’s vital that your website’s images load as quickly, clearly, and simply as possible across all devices.

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4. Include reviews.

You know how important reviews and customer testimonials are to build consumer trust, but did you know they can affect your website’s SEO, too? Search engines like Google crawl reviews and take into account what people say about your business to make sure you're relevant and useful to users. When you include reviews on your website, new reviews also count as fresh content for your website. Reviews also help your site rank for long-tail keywords, like “storage units near Snowmass, CO,” and increase your social media optimization (SMO).

Pro tip: Bad reviews won’t hurt your SEO as long as there is valuable content on your website that points to your site being reputable and useful to users. Make sure to monitor and respond to negative reviews that need attention. This lets your customers know that you care about their experience and assures them you’re staying ahead of potential issues.

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5. Fix broken links.

Broken links send users (and search engine bots) to 404 pages. These dead ends are a red flag to Google that your site is old and neglected. Broken links negatively impact your search ranking, and frustrate users to no end. Make sure your site is free of broken links and not sending users to dead end error pages.

Pro tip: Use a link checking tool like Google Webmaster or Screaming Frog so you don’t have to test all of your website’s links manually!

By taking the time to improve the SEO quality of your website, you can make a big jump in search ranking. For a high ranking long term, make sure your website is user friendly and compatible for viewing on mobile devices.