When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), many people immediately think of keywords. Businesses want to know where they are ranking on keywords that are important to them, so that they are maximizing their visibility for potential customers.

You might be thinking: Well, whatís your point? Arenít keywords important?

At the end of the day, what really and truly matters to most businesses is, well, getting business. Keyword rankings do matter and they will continue to, but they are only part of the process. If your site is ranking well but is not getting traffic, or if it gets traffic but isnít seeing any benefit from it, there is still more work to be done.

A fully optimized website should consider all of the following criteria:

Keywords: Is your website ranking well for keywords that are relevant to your business in the local areas you service? If not, start with the basics. There are a number of tools that can be used to put together a keyword strategy, such as Googleís own keyword planner, but the help of an experienced SEO company can often be necessary to identify and effectively target the best possible keyword strategy.

Traffic: Are the keywords your website is ranking for resulting in traffic coming from search engines? Now that Google is encrypting keyword data, this can be more difficult to determine, but non-paid search traffic is still something that needs to be monitored and maintained over time. Otherwise, keyword rankings are about as useful as billboards in the middle of a desert. They exist, but they may not bringing in more potential customers.

Responsive design: Does your site work equally well on desktop computers, tablets and mobile devices? If not, itís time to consider a responsive design website. A site that does not perform equally well on all devices risks losing potential customers due to a poor user experience. This essentially means people visiting your website on a mobile device or tablet are much less likely to become paying customers, or engage with your company.

Website engagement/user experience: When people visit your website, what happens? Do they stay, or do they immediately leave? Do they visit more pages than just the home page? Do they fill out contact forms, call, or buy something? If the answer to these question is unknown, itís important to dig a little deeper. Google Analytics is a great tool that can be used to analyze user behavior on websites, something that is often underutilized by webmasters to determine how well a website is performing.

In the world of online marketing, people love to talk about what Google likes. And while Googleís updates and preferences do need to be kept in mind, the best possible mindset is to think about what Googleís users (also known as your potential customers) like. Taking this approach will help your website rank well for important keywords and then turn those rankings into tangible results. This is what Googleís own focus is, after all.

Like Google, itís best to think of keyword rankings as part of the process. Providing value to your customers will always be equally important.

Propel Marketing is an online marketing company providing digital solutions to local small- and medium-sized businesses: www.propelmarketing.com.