A lot of the people I pitch my services to all have the same first question: "But I already have a website - Why do I need search engine optimization if I already have a website?" As our conversation continues it becomes clear that a lot of people think domain hosting and SEO are one in the same. The thinking is this, "I have a website. Therefore people can search for that website. So my business is now optimized for search."
*facepalm; deep breaths*
While it's true that anyone can search for your services, it is not true that your website is automatically going to show up in the results, or on the first page of results. It is also not true that if someone finds your website and clicks on it, they're actually going to become a LEAD. What if your landing page is hard to navigate so they just press the back button to purchase from a more convenient e-commerce business? What if you sell running shoes and you show up in a search for ballet slippers? At best, neither of these are making you sales. At worst, they are wasting someone's time and harming your online reputation. Alternatively, say you specialize in plumbing services, but your contact info doesn't show to anyone until they scroll through to page 3.....? When was the last time anyone you know scrolled through to page 3 of a search results page? They've already called your competitor on page 1. Sorry.
Search Engine Optimization is a way of setting up your website's content and formatting so that your website shows up in the searches you want it to, and your landing page convinces people they want to purchase from you, and your content is so compelling that they share your business with all of their friends, sign up for your e-mail list and then come back on their own to purchase again. It is an ongoing process of A/B testing, feedback, analytics, re-educating yourself and finally, updates.
Search Engine Optimization is the first step to an e-commerce relationship with your online customers by being reliable and relevant. It also helps ensure you are not wasting your time by posting content (and money by paying a web designer and host) to create a page that will not be seen enough or by the right consumers to create a return on investment.