Using search engine optimization (SEO) to build Web site traffic is one of the most hotly discussed, contested, and popular subjects in online advertising. There are many theories of how it works, why it works, and the best way to make it work.
Why is SEO so important? First, there are millions of Web sites. The odds of having a completely unique Web site are slim. If a site sells products and relies on search engines to deliver new customers, optimizing that site for search engine indexing can mean the difference between failure and success. If a site’s results are buried under the competition’s links, it won’t be able to reach new customers.
When consumers use search engines, they want results quickly. Many users will stop at the first page of results — maybe even on the first couple of links. If a site isn’t near the top of the first page, it will essentially be invisible.
So, how does optimization work? Most search engines use a technique referred to as “spidering” to periodically browse through all of the Web sites on the Internet. Spidering collects the data for indexing. During indexing, the content of Web pages are analyzed and then inserted into the search engine’s database. For example, if the word “widget” appears several times on a page of a site, that page would have a pretty good chance of appearing on a user’s search for widgets.
Next, the search engine ranks your site. This is done by a number of factors, including how many sites link to a site, and how popular the linking sites are. One of the easiest ways to get links to a site is to register with online directories such as the Open Project Directory and Yahoo!
For further details, check out the Web sites of the various search engines and credible search engine optimization sites and consultants. With new businesses jumping in to the Internet market every day, the question is: Can a business afford not to optimize their site? Unless their name has great recognition and their products are unique, they’ll be competing with possibly hundreds of similar sites selling identical products. Optimizing a site will make it stand out from the crowd.