What is SEO?: SEO is the process of promoting your website online so that it's visible when internet users search for particular terms and phrases relevant to your business.
Why is SEO important?: With over 18 million homes having internet access in the UK in 2009, it's clear the web has become an important part of our daily lives. Every day millions of searches are carried out for products and services across the country and if your website is invisible you're missing out on your share of the online market. For example if you're a florist in Aberdeen and launch a new website without doing any SEO at all, it's likely you'll languish in the lower pages of the search engine rankings for the main terms and phrases related to your business. It's estimated that 80% of internet searches don't go beyond page 1 of the Google results, so if your florist website is on page 7 for "florist Aberdeen" for example, you won't get as many visitors as the sites on page 1.
When should you start your SEO campaign?: Ideally your SEO should start before your website is even launched. This will ensure it's optimised before it goes live and will start being picked up by the search engines a lot quicker when you do come to launch it. Many businesses make the mistake of waiting until their websites have been around for months and even years before realising they're not performing.
What are the basics of SEO?: There are many technical aspects of SEO that this article won't go into but generally speaking there are two main things you can do yourself. Update your content regularly - write unique, regular and relevant news stories and blog posts for your website featuring your most relevant keywords and phrases.
Link building - this is the process of getting other sites to link to yours. Try to get one-way links from relevant sites rather than trading links with other sites as these often cancel each other out.
Link building helps build your site's authority with the search engines and if you concentrate on getting links through commenting on relevant blogs & forums, business directories and article directories initially you will get your site off to a good start.