Search engine optimization (SEO) is important because it helps attract more visitors to the website by improving its ranking in search engines.
Search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing etc) index billions of web pages. When someone types a request into the search bar, Search Engines use an algorithm to display websites in the order they deem most relevant to the person’s request. Among the thousands of pages having keywords used within the request, not all can rank high on search results.
SEO is improving your website rankings – preferably above your competitors – for search queries related to the products, services or information provided on your site. You can also target specialised searches such as Google images or Google shopping.
It’s best to do SEO when planning a site redesign or launching a new site but it is possible to do some optimisation on an existing site.
Above all, focus on creating a website that is informative for your visitors and easy to navigate around. This will also be favoured by search engines.
You need to be careful when seeking an SEO consultant. As well as potentially ruining the look and usefulness of your website, search engines can reduce rankings or even ban websites if they think deceptive SEO methods are being used. These can include methods such as ‘cloaking’ whereby text containing keywords is hidden within a website (for example, white text on a white background) or by trying to increase inbound links by listing your website on ‘link farm’ (spam) websites.
Be wary of SEO consultants that email you out of the blue. Apparently, even Google gets these emails:
I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories…”