According to Mashable, a reliable technology blog popular today, there are currently more than 350,000,000 Internet domains – News of Delhi places it more precisely at more than 366,848,493 (as of December 2011). How many of those are your direct competitors? More important, how many of them compete with you indirectly?
SEO matters because it helps two kinds of people find your website: people who know you but don’t know your website and people who don’t know you but want your content. Both can find you using a search engine like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, AOL, Alta Vista, or one of many others.
If someone knows your name, chances are very good that they will find you by entering your name in the search window, although it isn’t a given. If someone knows of you but doesn’t know your name, they can enter keywords about you and scroll through results pages until they run into you. If someone knows about your topic but not about you or your name, again they can enter keywords about your content and scroll through results pages until they run into any site that offers the actual content they seek, which may or may not include yours. Your goal is to maximize the chances that those people will find you before they find someone else. That’s also the goal of SEO.
Chances are good that those who know your name are getting to your site just fine, unless you have a difficult or strange domain name. So let’s focus on the other two groups of seekers. The more difficult you make it for them to find you in a search – the way most people who don’t know your domain name will try to find you – the less likely it is they will find you. Good SEO practices are to remove as many obstacles to finding you as possible. Good SEO practices are to set up your site to make finding you as easy as possible.
Back to your competitors: You have direct competitors – the sites with whom you compete directly for customers. You also have indirect competitors – the sites that through their website practices and through search engine algorithms place them in competition with you for ranking on the results pages. Some of both groups optimize their pages for search engines, some don’t. You can’t control what they do, and you can’t control what the search engines do, but you can control what you do. You can control how you optimize your pages and create the opportunity for seekers to find you.
That is why SEO matters.
Also see my series on SEO Basics for more on SEO for Web Editors.
My next article: SEO and Keywords
One of the most important tools you have to work with in search engine optimization is the keyword. It should form the basis of all your work to optimize your Web page. Up next in my series of articles will be, “SEO and Keywords.” Join me!