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What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?

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Search Engine Optimisation, often referred to as SEO, is the process of analysing and modifying a website to enable search engines to read, understand and index it. It is the process of making your website ‘search engine friendly.’

The importance of SEO has become obvious in the last couple of years. On average, 60% of website visitors come from search engines. Without a strong presence in search engines it will become very expensive to keep the visitors flowing to the site.

In essence SEO could be likened to having a store on the high street or down a quiet alley. If the shop is good enough then word-of-mouth will mean that people will take the time out to visit the store, even if it is located in a quiet alley. However, with a store located on the high street many people will walk past it and may be tempted to come in.

Having an excellent presence in the search engines is similar to having a store on the high street – many people will come across your website, which is likely to lead to more sales.

Optimising your website is something that you want to think about as early as possible, even in the design phase. By starting to think about SEO once your website is designed there will be a lot of changes required, some very significant. This doesn’t mean that it cannot be done, just that the cost will be higher and the time taken to achieve results longer.

The Search Engines

Google’s market share of the online search market in the UK was 77 per cent in May 2006. MSN and Yahoo are the closest competitors, each with 7% of the online search marketing.

“Google is the undisputed favourite in search in the UK, however Yahoo! And MSN are much more popular for other services.”

Heather Hopkins, director of research for Hitwise UK, goes on to say:

“Consumers are moving among these three internet brands and seem to clearly distinguish the uses of each. UK consumers use Google to navigate and search the web, MSN to communicate and Yahoo! for content.”

Yahoo is in a much more competitive position in the US, with 22 per cent of the online search market compared to Google’s 59 per cent share.

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