There’s no point in having a website that no-one visits. As a business the primary purpose should be to improve your tunrover in a cost effective fashion see Return On Investment.
All businesses regardless of whether they have a web site or not can use direct marketing to make themselves known to potential customers but a website provides another means for customers who didn’t even know you existed to find you.
This is one of the most important areas of both web design and web marketing. Any business website developed without planning for search engines is usually simply a waste of money.
Remember in the shop window analogy we said the internet is your high street?
Well this global high street is very, very, very big. (as of September 2010 there are approximately 96 Million active websites. Source www.netcraft.com)
When you use print advertising you make a choice of what publication(s) to advertise in based on circulation, location and cost. You have to actively consider who is going to see your ad and ensure you get a return on your investment because for any publication the readership is limited.
A website on the other hand is potentially available to every single person on earth with an internet connection (these days this includes mobiles, tablet devices, games consoles and even internet enabled media players and televisions as well as desktops and laptops).
Unfortunately the same is true for every other website so instead of competing on a limited amount of space for a limited amount of readers, you are competing against every other website and all potential readers.
So how do people find your site? Most of the time they use search engines such as google, yahoo!, and even bing. Search engines use automated processes to ‘crawl’ the web indexing all the content they find. They then apply their own algorithms to classify and rank that content so that when a user of their search types in a search word or phrase, the search engine can return the most relevant results. The default order of the results is usually ranked by relevancy.
So I hope you can see that it is vital that your site is structured in a way that is easy for a Search Engine to find and index and that the content is deemed worthy enough to appear high in search results. See SEO for more information.