Gone are the days when a web site was optional. Hold-outs might think creating one will take too much time, cost too much money or is unnecessary because “business is good.”

But here’s the reality — you’re losing potential customers if you don’t have a web site, and they’re relatively simple to build on your own, with an affordable template-based web program or through a local media firm.

O.K., so you have a web site. Is it mobile-friendly? Today, more than half of all local searches are performed on a smartphone or another mobile device. Have you ever tried searching for a web site from your mobile device, only to find it doesn’t display properly? Well, when potential customers can’t load what you need, see the whole screen or get to links, they go back to their browser and try someone else.

Today’s buyer wants immediate gratification. We’re spoiled by darned near real-time access to news and events. We expect the same availability of information for the goods and services we buy. Google agrees. In April, it released an algorithm called “Mobilegeddon.” The change actually penalizes your web site’s search engine optimization (SEO), which plummets your business to the depths of organic results, if it determines your site isn’t mobile-friendly.

Do you utilize the power of video in your online presence? Current trends indicate video attracts two-to-three times more visitors, doubles their time spent on your site and can raise organic traffic 157%. If there was any doubt about the future impact of video on SEO, Google eliminated them when it bought YouTube.

What else makes a site “optimized”? Basically, it comes down to trusted, relevant content that people search for on a regular basis. Make sure the information on your web site is up-to-date and relevant to the products and services you’re offering. For example, if you’re a home improvement company that advertises that you’re an expert roofer and someone goes to your web site and finds information on replacement windows and gutters, you probably won’t see that visitor on your site again. Business listings management products can also help with optimization by ensuring your business is listed accurately across the Internet.

Speaking of trusted content, www.bbb.org’s high domain authority — gained by its use of trusted and relevant content — can often help a business boost its own domain authority. Every BBB Accredited Business should use the two-way, live-link that we refer to as the BBB Dynamic Seal. Embed it on your web site (and your e-mail signature) and it can help you build a successful online presence.

Angie Barnett is president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland. She can be reached at 410-347-3990 and [email protected].