It used to be that designing an attractive website to promote your company and products was fairly straightforward. After you designed your site and built a few keywords into the code, you would simply submit the site to the search engines or a directory, grab an iced tea and wait for the traffic.
That model worked fairly well in 1996 but if you are still following this strategy in 2005, you are effectively non-existent on the internet. Why? There are now dozens of search engines and directories and somewhere in the area of 80 million websites on the www. Still think folks are finding you?
So how does the average consumer find your company? They type in a couple of keywords into a search engine and are then presented with thousands of your competitors' websites.
Let's say your company is Walt's Widgets. You have a pretty website with pictures of your widgets, a nice "about us" page, maybe some employee pictures and a picture of your beautiful building. It all looks good on the website but when Mr. Consumer types "widgets" into Google, poor old Walt's Widgets is on page 620 of the search results!
How can this be? Your site is not optimized for the search engines and is not being indexed by the search engine spiders and robots so you aren't being seen!
Research has shown that the average surfer will only review the first three pages of search results and will not drill down any deeper. If you are on page 62 of the search results, you effectively don't exist!
Surfers and search engines view a website completely differently and for you to appear on the first three pages of search results is critical to your continued profitability. You must know what the search engines are looking for, what relevance they are placing on your keywords, what elements of your site have a "welcome sign" for the spiders and, most importantly, know what keywords the surfer is using in his search. Just because you sell widgets it doesn't mean that "widgets" is the term being used the most by surfers when looking for your product.
SEO, Search Engine Optimization, is the process of analyzing keywords, reviewing search trends, analyzing link popularity, building code tags, analyzing your competition, optimizing pages within your website to be search engine friendly, editing web pages, submissions to directories and search engines, and reciprocal link building?just to name a few.
What you are after with SEO is not getting the highest number of website visitors. What you are actually seeking are qualified site visitors who have an interest in buying what you're selling. Professional SEO can help deliver a targeted audience to your business. After all, what would you rather have? 500 site visitors with a 1% conversion rate or 100 site visitors with a 10% conversion rate?
Professional SEO is critical to your company's web presence so if your site was designed by your summer intern in 2002 or your bookkeeper's son as part of his high school "media class", I assure you that you have some work to do.
Start with a good website design featuring good content and navigation. Then, utilize an SEO professional who can wring the most out of your website and deliver dollars to your doorstep.
Allan Gunnneson is the CEO of Gunner Web Group (http://www.gunnerweb.com), an internet marketing, website design, web hosting and search engine optimization company based in Kansas. Republishing this article is permitted if the content is presented in full and all credits to the author are presented on your site along with the originating URL (http://www.gunnerweb.com).