Today, millions of consumers will log in to Amazon and other online retailers in a frantic search for the best Cyber Monday deal. But as you scour the web looking for deep discounts or simply conduct everyday business, take notice of certain features that websites use to make the online experience a little easier, faster or more secure. Website positioning drives traffic.

Looking ahead to 2015, it's time to ask yourself: Is your website up to par?

Each year, we see huge advancements in web/mobile development and digital marketing. 2014 was no different. Responsive Web Design (RWD) has settled in as the de facto standard. Social media has found their place in every marketing plan. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus (a.k.a. "the curve") have hit the market.

For website positioning, there's been a hint for about five years that Google is going to settle in on a few NEW "must-haves" if you stand any chance of ranking well in their search results. 2015 is going to be the year where these Big Three are going to finally make a difference in how Google ranks your web properties. These are all good website enhancements even if you aren't concerned about organic search rankings.

Mobile-Friendly
For many years, mobile use of our websites was limited to 5-10% of all users. However, it's highly likely that usage has crept up quickly over the past few years. The web industry generally expects 25% of all users visiting your site in 2015 to now be on a mobile device (phone or tablet). Last Cyber Monday, 10.1% of all online sales came from tablets and 6.3% came from smartphones, according to IBM.

Recommendation: Responsive web design should be your first consideration. Unless you need your customers' mobile experience to be wildly different than the desktop experience, responsive design is the easiest path forward. It ensures a good user experience (e.g., readable font size, easy navigation) in the thousands of viewports (a.k.a. "screen sizes") on the market. AND, it means you only have to content manage one website.

Exception: If you already have a mobile version of your website, you're in good shape. While responsive design is the standard now, the only downside to a separate mobile version of your site has everything to do with whether you have to content manage it separately from the desktop version of your site.

Click here for the first tool to use to check your site's current mobile-friendliness.

SSL Certificate
Google has been calling for "HTTPS Everywhere" for some time now. As a response to the PR nightmare about its general disregard for user privacy, Google has taken a lock-down position on privacy.

This applies to ALL websites - even the most basic static copy-only landing page. We used to think of SSL certificates for e-commerce/transactional websites only, but given the amount of OUR user data that transfers when we're simply browsing the world wide web, it makes sense to encrypt it.

Recommendation: Adding an SSL certificate to a website is typically very easy AND a certificate is now much more affordable. SSL certificates are often available for under $100/year and your web developer/host provider should be able to install one on your current site with minimal effort.

Check out the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog for more information.

Page Load Speed
Page load speed has been widely discussed by Google as a ranking indicator since 2010 and in part many years before that. Despite the ubiquity of broadband networks, charges for mobile data by cell providers are still expensive. Plus, users expect websites to load in under three seconds.

The biggest challenge is the images. Images consume over 60% of all data transfer in website positioning. Despite all the advancements in code to lessen the page weight of a website, image compression hasn't advanced at quite the same rate.

Recommendation: The most common mistake we see on websites are non-optimized images. Photoshop has a great tool to web-optimize images. The key is two-fold: 1) Crop your website images to the smallest pixel dimension necessary for their largest use on your site, and 2) use the image type best fitting the application of the image (.jpg, .gif, or .png), optimized using web-friendly colors (Photoshop handles this automatically if you "save for web.").

There are other more-advanced techniques to optimize images, but most of them are much more complex than the above recommendation and only provide incremental improvement. If you have a developer on staff, consider leveraging his/her expertise in this area and review this article together.

Visit PageSpeed Insights as the first tool to use to check your site's current page load speed.

Best wishes for a digitally enhanced 2015!
Digital marketing efforts must include the mechanical practice of optimizing your website for the user experience and for the indexing robots such as Google. While most marketing is a disciplined art of communication, don't ignore the little things you can do mechanically that will improve your overall marketing effort. Website positioning is vital.

Our web team at Innis Maggiore can help you make these necessary website positioning enhancements. To learn more, please feel free to email me directly at mark@innismaggiore.com.