Search Engine Optimization – What is it?

Search Engine Optimization - What is it? Why does it work? If you build it, will they come? That depends. Can your potential clients find your business' web site when they search for it online? If you haven't thought about optimizing your site for search engines the answer is probably no. By 'optimizing' your site for search engines, you can cost effectively direct targeted traffic to your web site, which leads to increased sales. What is a Search Engine? Well, to start, let's explain what search engines do. Search engines are computer programs that index content on the web and make that data easily searchable through a web page. Search engines index billions of web pages each month and try to make sense of all that data, which is a far from simple task. When you type a word or phrase into a search box on sites like Google, Yahoo, or MSN, the search engine returns all of the pages it finds using those words and ranks them according to relevancy rules created by that search engine. A good search engine is one that provides relevant results to your searches so you can quickly find what you are looking for. What is Search Engine Optimization? Search Engine Optimization (SEO for short) is a process used to improve the ranking of your web site for important search phrases relevant to your business. This primarily involves researching the search terms commonly used by potential clients/customers of a business (product names, industry terms to describe business, etc.) then aligning the copy and other code within your site with those terms so search engines understand what your site is about. Why is SEO effective? SEO gets your products/services/message in front of your potential clients/customers at exactly the right time - when they're actively researching your business's market online. For example, if someone searched for "diamond rings" and your jewelry site ranked as one of the top results, the chances of someone clicking through to your site would be very high. If your site offered the right product at the right price, the chances of closing a sale would be fairly high. Multiply that by the tens of thousands of searches a month for that term, plus the thousands of other related terms a person could use to find a jewelry site (or a specific product within that site) and you can see how the targeted traffic could really add up. What businesses should consider using SEO? Search engine optimization is a cost effective marketing strategy for any business people might research online. If you've taken the time and spent the money to build a web site, it only makes sense to take a few steps to drive some traffic to that site. If you're content with your business only showing up in search results when someone searches for your company name you probably don't need help. However, if your site isn't at or near the top of the search results on Google for your own company's name, you definitely need help. More importantly, your potential clients and customers are probably more likely to type a phrase into a search engine that describes a product or service your company offers. Researching what those phrases are, then improving your web site's rankings for those targeted terms is what search engine optimization is all about. What kind of results can I expect from an optimized web site? The business potential for a search engine optimized site is difficult to quantify, but here are a few general rules.

1. If your site is poorly designed, additional traffic will not lead to additional business.

2. If your site doesn't show up in search engines for your company's name, that's a critical problem which must be solved since many customers will review your web site before deciding to do business with you.

3. A search engine optimizer can research the search volume for search phrases relevant to your site, which can help derive an indirect feel for potential site traffic. If nobody is searching for what you sell, search engine optimization will not generate any quality traffic for your site. What should I consider when researching a search engine optimization firm? Search engine optimization is fairly analytical work, which means the graphic designer of your web site is probably not the best person to hire for this type of work. However, they may be able to refer you to companies specializing in this skill. When researching an SEO, ask for examples of work they've done, sample clients, or a few references. Additionally, if they show you examples of terms they've optimized a web site for, make sure the terms are somewhat competitive, since just about anyone could get a site to rank high for an obscure search term.