A website will be useless unless it can be easily found by internet users. This is the reason why website owners work so hard at optimizing their sites. They do this by designing and modifying the website in a way which makes it easily indexed and then highly ranked by the search engines such as Bing, Google, and Yahoo. A high ranking will mean that the site will be placed on page one of the results for a search using a particular word or phrase. This is crucial to getting large volumes of traffic to a website, as the sites on later pages of results will struggle to be found by web users.
Effective website optimization requires a certain process to be followed. A website cannot be considered to be optimized without having content which is unique and relevant. This means that it cannot rank highly in search results, as Google's algorithm automatically reduces the ranking of sites whose content can be found elsewhere. Any sizeable piece of text on a website should include at least some relevant keywords and keyword phrases. It will be impossible to rank well for all of these keywords, but by including them within the content ranking highly for some of them should be very achievable. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) values the title of a website very highly, and therefore the title tag should include the site's most important keyword. The heading for each page of the website should also be carefully considered, and a keyword placed in the header tag. These help the search engines to index the site correctly, as do the meta tags which include all of the keywords as well as a description of the website.
Website optimization is crucial to the success of the sites of individuals and small businesses, as they would not otherwise by able to compete with larger companies. They have neither the advertising budget nor the customer base of their larger competitors. Website optimization is therefore a much more important strategy for them to find a position in the online marketplace. An individual website owner simply cannot compete financially with a multinational corporation. For that reason, the only way they can challenge their competitors' dominance in the market is to ensure that their website is fully optimized and therefore easily found. In doing so they will be able to steadily build a following of repeat customers.
Despite their dominance, large corporations still understand the importance of having the top placing in search results. As an example, in 2006 BMW actually used illegal means to skew the results for the search term "used car" to ensure the number one placing for their German site, an action which was discovered by Google. They set up keyword rich doorway pages, which have no value other than indexing, with the intention of tricking the search engines into ranking their site highly. It actually had the opposite effect, as Google responded by completely de-indexing the BMW site. This was detrimental, but worse was to follow, as after this action when searching for the car manufacturer's very recognisable brand name in other countries the top results would be for pages reporting the story, as opposed to BMW's own national websites.
It can be seen therefore that website optimization is important for large and small businesses, although in the latter case it is depended upon more heavily for driving traffic to a website. As a result, smaller businesses must have a proven successful optimizing strategy. The method they often use is to focus their efforts on ranking highly for more specific, longer key phrases which their larger competitors will be unaware of. These are referred to as long-tail keywords, and they can be very effective at increasing the visibility of a particular website on the net. It is only effective, however, if the content contained within the site is informative, entertaining, and unique. This is the only way to ensure repeat custom, and therefore to compete with more established businesses.