Today, about 80% of all Web traffic begins at a search engine. Increasing a Web site’s natural search engine rankings through search engine optimization (SEO) can help people access your site. Studies have shown that ranking on the second or third page of a search result can increase Web site traffic by up to 9 times. Top 10 rankings, or first-page listings, can mean an additional six-fold increase in traffic

Although SEO is not a panacea, it should be employed as an integral part of an overall promotion and marketing strategy. The best way to determine how much SEO to implement is to determine how your target audience currently searches for your content categories. Get reports that provide historical perspective of the popularity of key phrases that relate to your content. If you find that thousands of Web surfers are searching for your particular category per day, then you should move SEO to the top of your marketing priorities.

Remember that SEO is an ongoing, long-term investment. You need to continuously optimize content, fine-tune metadata, and optimize the page’s code to maintain excellent search engine results.

This is important both internally and externally. Internally, as you update your site’s content frequently, you need to optimize it so it continues to rank appropriately on search engines. Externally, since the ranking algorithms used by public search engines change constantly, you need to stay abreast of how your site is being ranked.

Ignoring SEO can be detrimental. Give search visibility the attention it needs to protect your brand and help people find your content.

(Several of the ideas in this post came from Business to Business.)

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