Why is SEO Important?
SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization, is an important part of building your website and bringing traffic back to your pages. SEO is a free traffic strategy, meaning it doesn't cost money to optimize your site.
There are two major aspects to optimizing your site, called “on page” and “off page.” Both of these are important for increasing the traffic of your site, as well as leading people through your site to where you want them to be (probably the pages that make you money!)
This aspect of search engine optimization requires research and planning up front. It starts with a site-wide plan, a broad overview of how you're going to organize your site. It then drills down to work you do on a page by page basis.
Why is this so important?
Putting together a website that makes sense is important to both your visitors and the search engines (and it matters to the search engines that your site works for human visitors). When I say “makes sense” it means that your visitor can navigate through your website with relative ease. The organization is logical.
For instance, your visitor goes from the home page to a page on traffic generation. This page has several links to more articles, including one on SEO, article marketing, and directory submissions. It doesn't link to a page on creating products, because that's not really related to getting traffic.
This logical, clean organization makes it easy for your visitor to find what they need. This increases their time on your site and the number of pages they visit – both things the search engines measure and use to rank your site.
Search engines employ virtual visitors (special computer programs) called “spiders” that “crawl” through the internet and catalog what they find. This is called indexing, and a well-organized site is easily indexed. Though disorganized sites can be indexed and ranked in the search engines, a clean, well thought out site will be much more successful.
There are different strategies for on each page of your site. Of course, creating good content that your readers love and get value from is very important. That's why good writing and great information is important. But SEO goes beyond that.
First, it's important to let your search engine spider visitors know what a page is about. The page's keyword (which you researched way back in the planning stages of your site) sprinkled throughout the page gives the spider a good idea of what the page is about and what you'd like to rank for. You want this to be there, but not overdone.
You may also include links throughout the page. These relevant links give your visitor ways to get more information on your site (or perhaps link to something that will benefit them and make you money). They also help the search engines further figure out what your page is about. The words that you use in your link (the part that's blue and underlined) are called your “anchor text” and they are a big part of on-page SEO.
Off-page search engine optimization means what happens off of your site, but related to your site.
This generally means links back to your site — in other words, links that are on somebody else's blog or website that lead to your site.
The search engine spiders follow these links to your site. The more links there are, the more popular and important they assume your site to be.
It's important for the search engine spiders to make this assumption because it drives up the ranking for your website in the search engines, meaning more visitors reach your site.
These links can also bring visitors to your site directly, especially if you earn a link on a popular website or blog. There are various socially-oriented sites, like Digg and StumbleUpon that may also give you tons of direct traffic if you get a link on them.
You want this off-page activity to be “optimized” too. It's good to get these links from important sites. It's also good to have control over the anchor text within the link — again, specific keywords in the anchor text let the search engines know what your site and its pages are about. This increases the chance that you'll be ranked for the terms you want to be ranked for.
Planning and Implementation Are Important
As you can see, search engine optimization is vital to your site. It should start in the planning stages of your site, with keyword research and the planning and structuring of your site.
It continues as your build your site and create a logical, organized resource for your visitors. You'll also probably link back to old content and archived posts from your static pages and newer posts if you're using a blogging model for your site. If you're using a static site, this internal organization may be more natural and easier to keep up with.
You'll also develop a plan for off-site SEO that you can follow systematically over time to build up your site's presence on the web.
All of this effort culminates in a site that pleases your visitors and the search engines — and a site that's set to make you passive income that you'll enjoy for years.