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What is Search Engine Optimization?

We’ve all read that Search Engine Optimization is the key to having a truly successful web site. But what does it mean and why should I care?

These days, just having a web site or a fancy web design is no longer enough. Each day, over 380 million searches are conducted by people looking to find businesses like yours so they can purchase the products and services they need. It would be nearly impossible to navigate the Internet without the aid of search engines. These indispensable internet tools include popular brands such as Google, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL Search, and more. If you really want to have a successful web site, it is extremely important that it be designed with the search engines in mind AND that it be found at the top of those same search engines when people look for the products and services you sell!

So, what is this thing called Search Engine Optimization or SEO for short? Well… search engine optimization is a process of structuring the layout and content on each page of your web site with the intention of making your site “search engine friendly”. This process increases the probability of your web site being among the first to be seen when someone searches for the products and services your company is selling or promoting. The goal of any search engine optimization program should be to consistently see your site listed among the top 30 web sites in the SERP’s (search engine results pages) for each of your company’s most relevant search terms.

Studies show that 85% of all Internet users use search engines to find the products and services they desire. To understand just how important search engine optimization is, consider the following:

  • Nielsen/Net Ratings reports one out of every three Americans uses a search engine.
  • Forrester Research, Inc. studies from June, 2000 determined that 81% of consumers find web sites through the use of search engines.
  • According to IMT Strategies, search engines create more awareness about web sites than all advertising combined including banners, newspapers, TV and radio.
  • Statistical Research, Inc. reports that on an average day, Internet users report searching the Internet (57%) and looking for product information (46%) more often than any other activity except e-mail.
  • Jupiter Research reports that Internet users ranked searching as their most important activity, awarding it a 9.1 on a 10-point scale. The next most important activity ranked only 6.3.
  • According to NFO Online Retail Monitor, 42% of those who bought from online retail sites arrived via search engines.
  • In a study of the Excite.com search engine, more than 70% of users looked at two pages of results or fewer. (approximately 20 listings)

Remember, if your web site hasn’t been designed and optimized with the search engines in mind, your chances of being found by these potential clients plummet. Few people using a search engine will bother to look beyond the top 30 results before moving on or trying another search term. Having your entire web site optimized for and positioned at the top of the major search engines means a relatively small investment can significantly raise your site traffic.

The SEO process is a complex and ever changing discipline. If potential customers cannot find your site, they cannot buy your products or participate in your branding. The various methods used by search engines to determine a sites relevancy to a search term, involve a continually changing set of algorithms that vary from search engine to search engine. One basic requirement all search engines look for is the careful selection and placement of relevant keywords that identify your business and its offerings to the people searching for businesses like yours. Your keywords must be placed strategically throughout your web site as an integral part of the content of each page.

Remember, a “cookie-cutter” approach to search engine optimization is not the correct method to attain your business objectives due to the vast differences in web site size, complexity, design, budgets, and existing competition. Successful search engine optimization requires a comprehensive, customized approach based on your site’s unique characteristics and your company’s particular needs. Only by performing a thorough evaluation of your existing web site along with obtaining an understanding of your target markets and business goals can any SEO firm determine the most effective optimization solutions for your web site.

Good Luck and Good Rankings!

Steve Scott
Tampa SEO Training Academy

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