In today’s world, the Internet is an essential component of life for almost every society. Not a day passes by without billions of people checking their e-mails, researching, reading news updates, looking up weather, shopping online, and listening to music, among countless other activities. What this all boils down to, however, is that billions of people use the Internet for information retrieval. The search for information is a need that can be ultimately satisfied by the broad base of content provided through the Internet. While there is no contest that the Internet is loaded with information, it’s true that Internet-based information retrieval would collapse if search engines did not exist.

Upon delving into the inner workings of search engines, it becomes further evident that scouring the Internet without them would simply be chaotic. Just as search engines have several uses for individuals looking to retrieve specific data or information, they also have important uses for businesses and organizations that have an online presence. Today’s businesses are increasingly participating in e-business and e-commerce, especially the companies who exist solely online, relying heavily on the effectiveness of their websites in reaching consumers. This means that the design and appearance of websites to search engines is crucial for all businesses to understand so that they can optimize the appearance of their content in users’ search results. In addition, many business websites also contain their own search engines so that users can search for information specifically within that business’ site.

A large percent of web traffic is derived from search engine results. The field of search engine optimization (SEO) has developed into a multibillion-dollar industry. Outside of the ranking algorithms, there are several actions business owners can take to improve the content of their sites so that search functions can be optimized. SEO can help enhance and increase views to your websites by simply selecting appropriate key words. Obviously, SEO is useless if you don’t know what you’re trying to optimize. The majority of search engine users click only results that appear within the first page of results, this is another reason why companies tend to jump on the SEO bandwagon to figure out how to get their webpage onto that first page of search results.

Search engines allow businesses to reach users that initially do not know about the products and services they are offering via the internet and/or otherwise. There would be no way for consumers to discover information about such businesses without some kind of mechanism to lead them there. Within business websites, search engines serve the same purpose, but on a smaller scale. Without the search function, many websites would lose value to users who could not automatically navigate their way through the wealth of information present.

So what does it all mean?  It means that having a solid, well planned  and SEO optimized website is a critical aspect of doing businesses today.  Further, it means that a well-found website can become one of your lowest marketing costs and lowest cost per lead generation.  But, SEO in itself, although a growing industry, is ripe with fraud and companies that overcharge and under deliver.  Unfortunately we see many corporate procurement departments as well as small business owners dish out cash to SEO firms with little return. 

Until we can dive further into this topic, here are some basic tips:  Never blindly sign an agreement with an SEO company or consultant that can guarantee you first place results.  Never sign long term SEO agreements unless you have the right to terminate without penalty.  And never sign an agreement for SEO services when you don’t 100% understand what it is telling you. If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is.

In the future, Bill Dorn and I will provide a multi-part series discussing ways to generate more views to your web sites with or without the use of SEO.  Whether you choose to tackle SEO on your own, or choose to hire a consultant is up to you, but I hope I can shed some light on the terms and mysteries of SEO.
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Danielle Rosato

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