It’s one thing to have your business online, but it’s another thing for potential customers to find you. You can post all kinds of blogs and have a website with countless pages, but you’ll be low on the list of search engine results unless your work is optimized.

Known as search engine optimization, or SEO, these best practices help Google and other online search engines give priority to websites, like yours, when users are searching for information that you might be relevant for. Websites that utilize a smart SEO strategy help local businesses get noticed by those performing a local search.

Of course, small and medium-sized business owners and managers are usually so busy with daily operations that the idea of a refined marketing plan is overwhelming. Strong digital marketing presence can be more work than you may imagine, but the return on investment is worth the effort.

Here is a look at the top SEO trends you may consider incorporating into your plan this year:

Improve Your Website Quality

Every business, even ones with a brick-and-mortar storefront, needs to have a strong online presence in 2020. It’s just the way today’s consumers make their buying decisions. Unfortunately, a simple landing page with limited copy isn’t going to cut it.

To rank high on local searches, you must have a robust site with each page filled with extensive, well-written copy that provides valuable information to the user. Do not duplicate information just to fill up the page. Instead, keep your customers in mind as you share your expertise in an educational or entertaining manner.

Make sure your content includes writing that sounds like a natural conversation. Many of your customers are relying on Siri and Alexa to find you now. If information sounds strange when spoken aloud, you’ll get passed over.

Be the Expert in Your Industry

In digital marketing, it’s called E.A.T.: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. You need to demonstrate all three in order to be optimized for search engines. This means all the content you offer through your website needs to be of the highest quality both in terms of writing and research.

When you position yourself as an expert, you’re also more likely to connect with other sites who may be willing to link to yours. This process is known as backlinking, and it can help in Google results, too. Generally, the more backlinks you have on other pages, the better your content will rank.

Keywords still play an important role in SEO, as well. There are plenty of free and affordable keyword research tools that can help you understand the point of view of your target audience. Knowing the right short-tail and long-tail keywords effectively allow you to speak the same language as those who are searching for your products or services. This adds to your trustworthiness.

Lasting, the frequency in which you add content to your site has an impact on your rankings. Google favors sites that routinely publish new and unique content. As a business owner, you likely don’t have time to produce this, but we’re able to schedule and produce reliable and on-brand copy for your website.

Foster the Buzz of Your Local Business

In 2020, word-of-mouth advertising takes place online through written reviews and social media posts. Online reviews have been shown to carry more weight in the buying process than recommendations of friends or family. You can track mentions of your business by setting up Google Alerts and performing regular searches of review sites. Make sure you respond rapidly to any concerns so the buzz remains positive. The way you respond to reviews, whether they are good or bad, is crucial to managing your reputation online.

Encourage your happy customers to leave reviews on many different sites online, not just Google. Offer a discount or coupons to anyone who posts a review online. The more you have, the higher you’ll rank in a local search.

Of course, you’ll also want to make sure that you claim your business on Google, verify your location, add photos, and describe your services using the appropriate keywords. These are what the industry refers to as “off-page” SEO. A good digital marketing firm can help make sure that these are optimized to maximize your online visibility.

Keep Refining and Improving

As you work toward search engine optimization of your online presence, remember that the entire process is dynamic. Google, which is by far the most popular search engine, closely guards its process for ranking sites. Digital marketers must frequently research and pivot when new SEO best practices emerge.

There is no quick way to rise in the Google search ranks. SEO is a long-term marketing plan, and it can take months before you notice changes on the results page. Be patient: With time, high-quality content that is robust and informative will translate to more customers for your business in 2020 and beyond.