Having a website is only the beginning of doing business online. It’s very competitive. And every day you have to either learn the tools and skills to make your site stand out  or you have to hire someone to do it for you. If not, your site will be lost in a maze of millions of other websites all vying for the same customers. But what if you don’t have the resources (money) to do that? What if you’d like to learn to do it for yourself? Or teach someone on your team to do it for you? Not to worry, it can be done.

Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the phrase or term common to savvy website owners, internet marketers and web designers. And by the way, although there are designers who will optimize your site, most of them cannot do it without some guidance and help from the site owner. They need input in order to come up with the proper keywords, phrases and content to use on each and every page.  It is the fuel that drives the search. It is the tool that you need so that your prospects can find your products, services and information.

Every day, millions of sites are clamoring to get their websites higher rankings in the search engines and if your site is not one of them it will go further down the list until it is on some obscure page in never-never land where even the search engines cannot find it. And this could be a recipe for failure (or success).

Unless you plan to only drive traffic to your site from offline sources (such as promotional materials, business cards, word of mouth) you need to implement search engine optimization tactics to your internet marketing plan.

Search engine optimization is what drives traffic from prospects you didn’t previously encounter. It is one of the best ways to create a larger online following. Search engine optimization is about utilizing tools and methods that make your site top-ranking in the results of search engines. Getting to the first page and even better, in the top half of the results page will ensure that your site generates public awareness that your site exists which can generate more traffic, traffic that can add to the bottom line.

The stark reality is that most people that use search engines to find what they are looking for, use only the top ten search results on the first page. For most internet marketers and companies making it to the first page, more so to the top three spots on the first page is the ultimate sign of success in search engine optimization.  the higher you “rank” or show up in search results, the greater the probability your site will be visited. The more traffic to your site, the more business you do.

I did a search for Women’s Dress Shoes and the first three natural results (those that are not using a pay-per-click ad campaign to come up first which were Macys, JC Penny and Payless) were: Famous Footwear, DSW, Zappos and Heels.com. They have obviously mastered SEO for their websites.

Search engine optimization requires a lot of work to pay off.  There are many aspects you have to change on your site or add as well to get effective search engine results. These will include learning what the keywords and phrases people use to find sites like yours.

One of the things that almost always works is using more targeted keywords. Here’s an example: After the above search for Women’s Dress Shoes I added the words “South Florida” to my search. A Women’s Apparel shop came in first followed by Bakers.com and a shoe retailer in Naples. So I dug deeper. The first one was listed in Google Places, and Bakers Shoes had a lot of content, pages and properly used their keywords and descriptions to drive traffic to their sites.

Keywords are only one important aspect to results. If you don’t have the right keywords, the right keyword density (the number of times a keyword is used) and the keyword phrases in your site’s content, you won’t get found or worse, you will get found but it won’t be what people are looking for.

Link exchanges are also important. Having quality backlinks that point to your site helps Google determine your site’s importance or authority.  That means you want others to mention your site on theirs. But not just any site (we will cover backlinks and linking strategies in another post).  

Search engine optimization is not easy and its not really difficult. It is a strategy. An important one. It does require some time and effort but the benefits will pay off.

if you are not a do-it-yourselfer, hire content writers, seo experts/internet marketers to help you. When you do, you will see the results in better traffic, better quality traffic and ultimately more business for you.  

Read: Find Your Way to the TOP of Google for more SEO ideas