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While there are obvious merits to employing a specialist to perform a specialist task such as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), it does not have to be your only option if your internet marketing objectives include better website rankings in search engines and more online referrals from prospective clients.

The primary role of a SEO company is to be able to assist in the increasing of the volume and/or quality of the traffic that is driven to your website.

The problem is that usually SEO companies are often enlisted after the website is already online and are instructed to squeeze further life/value out of a website that quite often has been neglected or has not been update since it was launched 5 years ago.

The Internet, being the ever changing beast that it is, means a lot can become obsolete in 12 months, never mind 5 years. Particularly as website standards and design conventions change, browsers and internet speeds improve, and end-users become more diverse, your website has to keep evolving in line with these changes.

A large part of building a Search Engine Optimised website takes place during its development. After all there is only so much optimising a SEO company can do if the website has been poorly designed from the outset.

A search engine, being essentially a robot or computer does not easily understand images or Flash objects but instead searches primarily for text, and it’s the text on your website that will contribute to better search engine rankings. This is also provided that your websites structure is easy to navigate and there is also a high degree of internal linking so that as the search engine robots traverse your website, they are able to index all content with little hindrance.

In web development, there is an important balance that has to be struck between a website being both aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate by the human end-user and with a need for it to be easily accessible and traversable for the search engine robots indexing your website.

This loss of balance is common where aesthetics outweighs the importance of having a well built search engine friendly (SEF) website, where for example, crucial elements of the website’s navigation is in Flash, or how about when important headers for titles of content or even the actual body of text is one large image. In all cases a search engine would not understand the image and therefore would not be able to index the information or text contained within it.

This is why, it is important to ensure that any web developer chosen for your next website project has a firm grasp of the fundamentals of web design, and a clear understanding of the elements that make up a good, standards compliant website and SEF website which will ensure that not only do Search Engines find it easier to index when it is crawled but also so do the visitors using your website.

Further Reading:

Leveraging Social Networking Sites to Generate Business

How to Use Online Networks to Market Your Business

Ten Steps to Dramatically Improve Your Network with Social Software

The 10 Commandments of Networking

Crossing the Social Networking Chasm

Use LinkedIn for Recruiting Employees

Things to Avoid in Business Blogging

Why Should You Start a Blog for Your Business?

10 Questions about Starting a Business Blog Answered

IBM’s Social Networking Push

Online social networks go to work

Bosses ‘should embrace Facebook’