Search engine optimization (SEO), the process of applying certain keywords and technical code modifications that boost search engines’ ability to read your website, has become an essential tool for small businesses to promote goods and services and generate leads.

Unlike other advertising methods, search engines can drive targeted traffic straight to your Website. Traditional advertising methods create demand by trying to persuade people to purchase products or services that they don’t need (or really want). The new style of advertising responds to consumer demand, expressed by their user behavior. With more than 85 percent of consumers actively searching for information, products and services they want directly online, search engines are now the ideal source for new leads. Customers will come to you -- if you know how to tell them you’re there.

SEO naturally leads to increased market visibility. For years, the Internet was just a “place” to be seen. Today, that presence is vital to market visibility. Your customers now expect to easily find a Website for your business; if they can’t find it quickly and within a few clicks on a search page, they will most likely choose a competitor. If done right, SEO can move you to the top of the search listings, letting your online customers know you take them seriously enough to make their search easier.

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