Search engine optimization is key to the success of any website. After all, there is no point in having great content if no one knows it is there. Search engine optimization is part of a broader field known as search engine marketing, which includes advertising. The most common form of advertising online is PPC or pay per click. You can still get great results without advertising if you follow some specific directions and make some changes to your site.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process by which webmasters try to get better rankings in the search engine results. Studies have proven that most visitors click on results that return highest organically. In this sense, search engine optimization is even more important than advertising. Advertising does provide wider exposure to potential visitors, however. SEO demands constant monitoring and revisions to your site, and this is why so many companies choose to outsource their SEO needs.
However, there are several things you can do on your own to maximize your site's SEO results. These include properly filling out the META description and keywords. Many search engines use your description next to the site's entry in the results if it finds it. Keep the description short or it will be truncated in the search engine returns. Use a combination of broad and very specific search phrases as keywords and employ no more than about 15. Put the most important keywords first. Do not get repetitive in these areas, as search engines may flag your site for spam or even exclude you from the results entirely.
Be sure to include tag descriptors and other information, such as ALT definitions for images and titles for hyperlinks. These small details cannot be noticed usually by most visitors, but search engines look for them. They are also a matter of good coding. They do provide visitors with more information, especially when they have images disabled or are deciding whether or not to click on an outgoing link. Avoid clip art whenever possible.
Finally, include search terms and keywords in your text content, but not too often. As with the META keywords entries, constant repetition of keywords and phrases could trigger negative responses from the search engines. Include phrases across the breadth of your site, not every search term on every page. Examine your competitions' sites to see what they are doing and what keywords they are employing to better inform your own attempts. In most browsers, you can right click on any page and choose "View Source" to see the raw coding of the webpage.
You will have to monitor traffic constantly to narrow your search terms and get the best results. Keywords change over time, and trends emerge and disappear and you must be ready to alter your site to reflect these changes. Traffic monitoring systems are often included in many web hosting plans, and there are also free tools available from third parties that can be included as well. You can glean a lot of information about how visitors use your site through this information, but it takes time to evaluate.
If all of this seems overwhelming, outsourcing might be your best option. This is especially true if you need to focus on running the business or generating content.
I am a professional .NET and PHP software developer. I has been designing and developing websites professionally since 1994. Currently working as SEO consultant at UK SEO Company.