Online search is a dynamic ecosystem that changes daily. As more businesses leverage the power of SEO, search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo must continually tweak their algorithms to provide searchers with the best possible results.

Users today rely on search engines to lead them in the right direction for all their needs, just like a baby holding a mother’s hand. They understand that websites on the first page of search are generally more trustworthy and relevant. It’s no surprise to see that businesses of all sizes and in all industries are trying to rank their pages higher using SEO.

What should you focus on when optimizing your website?

Here are seven evergreen SEO tactics that will rank any site higher in online search.

1. Content Is King

Nothing is more important for positive ranking signals than quality content. Poor content ends up on the last pages of search, whereas the best content appears at the top. Ditch the 300-500 word articles and replace them with long-form content of at least 1,200 words. Articles that contain videos and images are better still. Never be afraid to start a blog that provides your audience with free content. The more value you can offer users, the more they will come back to your website — and the greater the likelihood they’ll contact you when they need products or services.

2. Freshness of Content

It’s no longer enough to just create quality content. With an influx of businesses churning out content and using SEO, older pages that are never updated drop in search rankings as they’re overtaken by fresh content.

Continually update your core pages to provide the most relevant information. Search engines will take this into account when ranking your pages. For one thing, search engines consider a website with a long history online and frequently updated content as having greater authority than a new site. Plus, updated pages send signals to search engines that a business is up-to-date in its industry and wants to provide visitors with the best information possible.

One example of how you can keep pages fresh is to return often to your keyword strategy. You should check if your keywords are still relevant every three to six months.

3. Keyword Research

The optimization process starts with identifying the right keywords for your brand. Without optimizing pages for keywords, you will find it extremely difficult to rank high for any pages on any search engine. Choose one main keyword for each page and add it to places like the title of the page and various subheadings as well as throughout the content.

4. Mobile-Friendly Website

With almost half of the world’s population using smartphones to access the Internet, it has never been more imperative to optimize your website for mobile devices. Google has admitted that it penalizes websites that do not offer a mobile-friendly experience. The good news is that it doesn’t cost thousands of dollars to make your website mobile-friendly. In fact, you often only need to change your site design to something mobile responsive. Making your website mobile-friendly can see your rankings jump several spots.

5. Updating Website Code

The speed of your website plays a big role in how your pages rank. Speed relates to usability, and if your pages take too long to load, users won’t want to stick around. Recent research by Google found that the chance of a bounce is 32 percent higher when pages take 3 seconds to load compared to 1 second. Even worse, when pages take 5 seconds to load, the chance of a bounce is 90 percent.

Bear in mind, more than 80 percent of Internet users in the U.S. use a mobile device regularly. Many use 3G and 4G networks, which cannot handle websites containing bulky code. Having poor website code, therefore, hinders your website performance and your ability to rank in the SERPs.

Furthermore, search engines use robots, known as web crawlers, to read the code on your website. This allows them to learn more about your pages, keywords, when you last updated your site, and who your content is most relevant for. If your website is loaded with cumbersome, unfriendly code, search engines will be unable to read your pages correctly. This will cause them to inaccurately index your pages and, as a result, they will give you lower rankings.

6. Reviewing On-Site and Off-Site Links

SEO is unlike any other marketing tactic. Everything from sending out a sequence of emails to running a Facebook marketing campaign or time-based promotion has a start and end date. SEO has no end date. The more time you continue to invest, the higher your pages will rank.

Ranking higher is also constant battle with your competitors. The war to outrank them never ends, unless one of you gives up. As search engine algorithms rely on up-to-date information as ranking signals, giving up will ruin your previous efforts.

Instead, once you have implemented an aspect of your SEO strategy, keep reviewing and improving on-site and off-site factors. Third-party tools can help you identify where to improve your strategy. For instance, they can show you what your competitors are doing and how to out rank them for specific keywords.

7. Make Yourself Visible in Local Search

For the best return on investment, small and local businesses need to focus on local search. Search engines tailor their results based on a user’s search query and location. For example, if a searcher types ‘local lawyers near me,’ Google will use multiple data points identify the user’s location. It will then return a number of businesses in the area.

If your business caters to a local market, you must optimize for local search. This involves using keywords with local search terms, listing your business on directories (especially Google My Business), and encouraging customers to leave you genuine reviews online.

Want Your Pages to Rank Higher?

There are hundreds of ways improve rankings in Google, Bing, and Yahoo. However, only some of these  methods will work. Many methods are considered unethical (known as black-hat) and against the terms of service of almost all search engines. Breaking these rules can result in penalization, reducing your visibility — in some cases, even removing you completely from search results. Google’s algorithm, for instance, is dedicated to catching businesses that are using black-hat tactics.

Are you looking to improve your rankings by using the correct SEO tactics? Start learning today with the resources from our SEO Basic Training.

This post was originally published February 2017 and has been updated to be current in the new year.