Search Engine Optimization
"The Internet is a marketplace with millions of potential customers" - a common refrain responsible for a great deal of disappointment.
Although it's true that millions of people use the Internet on a daily basis not all are potential customers. In fact only a very small percentage should be considered part of your defined target audience - so it's critical to ensure that this target group actually find your website.
The real customer
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the fine art of improving the search engine results of your website against a set of given criteria to ensure real customers find your website before your competitors.
To do this the content of your website must be continually fine-tuned and optimized to the needs of your target audience, and to the rules of the myriad search engines. This is not about submitting your website to the search engines - Search Engine Optimization refers to ongoing code and design changes to your website to make it more visible and more easily classifiable to the search engines.
The human factor
To attract visitors searching for your products, your website needs to be built in a manner that's easily understood by the search engines. However if overdone this can lead to an out-dated or ugly design that may deter potential customers. Optimization can all too often forget the human factor.
That's why I always seek a careful balance between Search Engine Optimization and an attractive design for visitors to ensure that your website will not only attract more visitors, but also that these visitors will like the site and return often.
Evaluating your performance
The performance of your website must be carefully monitored at all times - before, during and after optimization / submission. Without careful monitoring of search engine results the long-term performance of your website cannot be evaluated - such monitoring might for example compare the results of your website against that of your competition.