Getting the word out about your brand and your products is essential for success and online marketing is a go-to resource for many businesses. As internet search engines have become more sophisticated and more useful, natural web search traffic can be an invaluable source of new business. Search engine optimization (or SEO) is any effort intended to enhance visibility to internet search engines and develop a more favorable page rank in search results.

SEO increases the total quantity of visits to your website, but improves the quality of those visits as well. Unlike typical advertising or mass-marketing, traffic from a web search represents potential customers who are actively seeking your product and ready to buy. Exposure in search results also builds customer awareness and expands brand recognition, establishing a strong association with related search topics and keywords.

Search engine optimization takes an active approach to marketing your online business or ecommerce shopping cart. SEO can involve many detailed factors, but a few key concepts will help you make a great start toward more website traffic and increased sales.

A Little History
Although primitive precursors to the internet began as early as the 1960s, the web much as we know it today emerged in the mid-nineties. As the popularity and availability of the internet expanded, search engines quickly appeared on the scene to serve a growing market of web surfers looking for a simple way to find and explore web content by topic. In an ongoing effort to deliver useful search results, the combination and relative importance of factors that contribute to search engine visibility and page ranking began a process of evolution and refinement that continues today.

Over the last twenty years, this combination of factors (known as a search engine algorithm) has changed, matured and become very complex. At their most basic level however, modern search engine algorithms reflect two juxtaposed elements - indicators of quality, relevant content and filters to disregard illegitimate indicators of content. In turn, search engine optimization is an effort to maximize positive indicators and minimize negative indicators.

If It’s Not You, It’s Your Competitors
Why is search engine optimization so important? Much as a brick and mortar retail store’s patronage is a factor of location, online businesses count on favorable placement in search engine results to draw traffic to their websites. Site traffic means sales, and competition for search traffic is understandably high. Few web surfers view more than the first two pages of search results, making top search engine rankings very valuable. If your online business ranks poorly, potential customers are left to select from your competitors. An entire industry is devoted to SEO, helping online businesses and ecommerce websites develop search engine visibility and improve page ranking.

Focus On The Fundamentals
Even as search engine algorithms continue to evolve there are a few fundamental concepts that should form the basis of your SEO campaign:

Relevant Content
While design and functionality help to make websites interactive and engaging, ultimately the value of any particular website or individual page on a website is about content. Keeping content relevant and on-topic will naturally lead to keyword-rich text, which is one of the most important factors for optimal search engine visibility. Useful, well-organized information will attract both customers and favorable search engine page rankings.

Choosing the right keywords can make or break your SEO campaign. Researching your target keyword range and selecting the best combination will ensure that improvements you make to your page ranking will impact your bottom line. Researching competitors is a great way to start. Carefully review content and analyze the keywords and quantity of those keywords. Make note of what they’re doing right as well as how you think you can do better.

Google’s Keyword Tool is also a great resource, displaying the quantity of searches for your keywords as well as many other related keywords for comparison. You can increase your chance of success in highly competitive keywords ranges by targeting a more specific niche, but be sure to confirm that your keyword niche receives enough monthly searches to make a favorable page ranking worthwhile to your business.

Inbound Links
Although you want to maximize the total number of inbound links, just as with content, quality is key. Inbound links to your site are most beneficial if those links originate from high-quality sites with content relevant to your field. Links from unrelated or insubstantial sites can even have a negative impact on your page ranking.

Code Structure
Optimizing code and the technical configuration of your site is an often overlooked, but important part of maximizing your site’s visibility on the web. Proper code structure and efficient organization helps search engines understand your content and speeds up load time. A fast website is more useful to your customers and contributes to favorable search engine page ranking as well. Addressing relatively small details like code structure can add up and are an important part of a comprehensive SEO campaign.

Maintaining a blog is a simple way to add relevant content to your online business website and expand on keyword range with posts on a wide variety of related topics. Extending content to a blog adds valuable additional pages and links, and search engines lend extra importance to fresh and regularly updated content. Linking blog posts to relevant product pages can also encourage customers to more actively explore your full product offering. (Check out the Blog add-on for AspDotNetStorefront shopping cart systems from Compunix.)

Want more? Improve search engine visibility from the inside out with tips to optimize your site’s HTML code and make every keyword count!

SEO Tools For Your Shopping Cart
Compunix offers some AspDotNetStorefront add-on products to help you to improve your site’s visibility to search engines. From blogging and mini sites to breadcrumb navigation and keyword/product tag clouds, improving your ecommerce site’s search engine page ranking could be just a few clicks away!

- XML BreadCrumbs for AspDotNetStorefront
- Tag Cloud for AspDotNetStorefront
- Mini-site System for AspDotNetStorefront