There are a lot of different opinions on search engine optimization – SEO. Some suggest that search engine optimization is the be-all and end-all of web marketing. Others will tell you that most people who consider themselves to be SEO gurus aren’t out to help you, they are only there because they see an opportunity to make money. The truth, however, lies somewhere in the middle. Yes, there are unscrupulous marketers who set out to make a profit by telling you “everything you need to know about search engine optimization.” It’s also true that, if the search engines don’t find your site, prospective customers probably won’t either. After all, it’s the search engines that help to draw notice to your website. When a prospective customer searches for a topic, the search engines will – in a fraction of a second – sort through all of their indexed pages to find those that are most relevant. The most relevant sites will be listed first, based on a ranking of search matches. Most people who search tend to rely on those pages that come in at the top of the list. If, after scanning through the first listings on the page, they don’t see what they are looking for, many skip to the next page. If your site isn’t listed “above the fold” on one of the first pages, chances are good that no one will see it. Search engine optimization – SEO – is the process that gets your site noticed by the search engines; SEO helps you to get above the fold when prospective customers look for information. In part, search engine optimization is about choosing the right keywords for your website. Keywords are those words and phrases that sum up your product or service. Keywords are the terms that prospective customers will use when they are looking for the products and services that your business offers. By using keywords effectively, both in frequency and placement within your web page, your website’s meta tags, and within internal page links, you will be able to optimize your website for the search engines. But how do you go about ensuring that your site is optimized? One thing that you can do is to perform a search for your site based on the keywords that you think your customers will use. Another thing that you can do is to ensure that you have natural links within your site and to other sites – and that your site has links in to it. Still another is to hire a search engine optimization consultant. Hiring an SEO consultant is not the same as hiring a guru. When you hire the right consultant to help with search engine optimization, you will find that you are working with someone who won’t pepper your site with keywords; instead, he or she will work to create quality, keyword rich content for your site. This may mean adding articles to your site. It may mean working with you to develop natural links to your web pages and improving your meta information. It may mean that, for the sake of search engine optimization, it’s suggested that you keep a blog on your site. This is because the key to search engine optimization is fresh, relevant, keyword rich content. Content is vital to SEO. Updated content keeps the search engines coming back to index your site. Updated content provides site visitors – your current and prospective customers – coming back for more: more information, more tips and tools, more products and services. Search engine optimization, therefore, is important because it drives traffic. Websites are not effective tools for your business if no one finds them. SEO serves to get your site noticed, to draw in those who are already searching for the products and services that you have to offer.