Search engine optimization is a phrase that is thrown out a lot these days, but just how important is SEO? The answer depends on whether you want to make money, generate leads, or just gain more traffic to your website.  The fact of the matter is simple; the average website just isn’t built to compete for rankings in the search engines.  That is why it is important to optimize your website for higher rankings which in turn should lead to more traffic, more leads, and eventually more sales. 

It’s Not All About Looks

The average business owner looking to start a website might have a general idea in their head about what they want, what kind of things he wants to present with his content, and what items he wishes to promote with the site.  Often times, designers will come up with a colorful, pretty looking site design that the business owner immediately falls in love with.  Unfortunately, most of the time, these bright and colorful websites are not search engine friendly, meaning they were built with Flash or with AJAX or something else that is not search engine friendly.  This can cause major issues with the indexing of your site. For example Search Engines cannot read flash and have a lot of trouble indexing your pages because of that. Many sites that utilize flash only get their home page into the search engines and all their unique content is never even seen. The same can be said with AJAX or Frames.

Keep Things Simple

Although it may seem simple and boring, the best way to design a website for the search engines is still with basic HTML.  There are many things you can do with style-sheets and other coding that will make your site look and feel vibrant, all without sacrificing the spiderability of an SEO friendly website.  Sometimes business owners, just starting out with their first website are just plain uninformed and think that a site built entirely in Flash or similar coding will skyrocket to the top of the listings, after all, it looks better than some of the sites that rank ahead of your Flash site right? Wrong. 

If you have a website that is not able to be optimized for the search engines, you must rely too heavily on what is referred to as “Off-Site SEO.”  Although off-site SEO is an important piece of every SEO campaign, you cannot live by links alone and the average small business owner just starting a brand new website has ZERO domain strength or credibility.

Don’t Stop Optimizing

Without search engine optimization, your website will simply be lost in the shuffle.  One of the items we stress with our clients as they near the end of an SEO program with us is that they need to remember that they are not the only website in their industry that is optimizing for the search engines.  Sure, our campaign got them higher rankings, more traffic and more links, but if you don’t keep doing it, your competition is going to pass you by.  That is another reason why search engine optimization is important. 

If you are a small business owner, looking to increase revenue or leads through a website, be assured that simply having the website up and operational is not enough.  There are so many things that web developers unknowingly may do with your site that could prevent it from ranking as high as you would like in the search engines.  Next time the topic of search engine optimization comes up at your small business association meeting, don’t blow it off as a bunch of hocus-pocus – instead, understand that your competition is doing it and without it, you will simply be a stalled car on the freeway watching everyone else race by you.

Aaron Garcia