Properly implemented, search engine optimization allows your website not only to be viewed by the search engines, however, as soon as a search phrase (either key words or phrases) is entered, offers the capability to rank quite high in the search engine results pages. The results pages are typically a mix of natural (sometimes called organic) outcomes, paid inclusions (directories) and pay-per-click (PPC) ads.

But why is SEO so vital to the success of your company online? The holy grail for internet marketers centers about getting your website on the first page of a Google search results page. Why Google? Since it now owns well over half the market of all hunts. If you further optimize your website in such a way that it brings in quality visitors, you will find the greatest return on your investment (assuming that you have a solid back office procedure). And if you’ve optimized well for Google, you will rank well in the other key search engines, such as Yahoo! and MSN, also.

Lots of people hire professional consultants to perform SEO, while others attempt to do it themselves, which you certainly can-it’s not brain surgery. There really are no secrets-it just requires a great deal of continuous work and an understanding of people, search engines, algorithms, and tool sets.

The scope of work is dependent upon your website and your niche. This doesn’t necessarily mean you will want to spend 40 hours a week on it–you certainly couldn’t afford to put that much effort into it–but you will need to place a good content and link-building strategy in place for the long run. Existing sites can be optimized simply by applying a proper title (the text that shows up in the blue bar at the top of your browser window) and a meta description (the text which often shows up as the description in the results listing).

If you’ve read the book Art of War, you will be aware that the foundation for going into battle is to know your competition first. In our search engine optimization battlefield, we will look at the competitive analysis and keyword research to get started.

A critical first step for an effective search engine optimization plan is to carry out heavy competitive analysis. In actuality, if you search in Google for a key term or phrase related to your field and website, you need to have a look at the first three to five websites that come up on the first page of your Google search results. That’s because if you’re listed in the top 10 search results in Google, you can realize that your website will become significantly increased traffic (assuming you have a competitive search term). I’ll talk about ways to get quality traffic and tracking/conversion in a future article.

Additionally, it is critical that your website is built in such a way that it’s search-engine friendly but also user-friendly. To start with, you need to be very clear about what your website is all about. Then you will want to ensure easy navigation, a clear call to action and appropriate content. When you add relevant content pages and links in your theme and community, you’re taking the first steps to success.

You also have to make sure it loads quickly, is html/css (cascading style sheets) compliant, and lets visitor know what your website is about in less than eight seconds. Even if you believe that your visitors are knowledgeable about your service or product, you’ll still need to make it easy to navigate and user-friendly.

Search engine optimization is among the most effective internet advertising mediums there is, and it’s crucial to the success of your online business. The bottom line is, SEO done right can let you be found and ranked well in the sea of billions of current web pages, and your visitors and your bank account will both love you for it.