One more question. Do you measure the number of visitors, where they come from and what they do when they get to your site? If the answer to these questions is 'no', don't worry, you're not alone. There are millions of websites but very few website owners manage their traffic building activities properly - what's worse, even less measure where their traffic originates and how visitors behave when they get to the site.
Attracting more customers to a website is therefore the key - getting higher search engine ranks is useless if you can't persuade your visitors to buy, subscribe or contact you..
How do you get higher search engine ranks? There are two ways - search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay-per-click advertising (PPC).
SEO is the process by which you get your site well ranked in the natural search results against the keywords and phrases that you are targeting.
PPC systems like Google's Adwords are auctions for keywords - the advertisers who bid highest and succeed in attracting the most clicks get the top positions.
In both cases, selecting the right keywords and phrases is critical. Keyword research is essential to eliminate the guesswork from your search traffic building. You can start by checking your website's log files. These files contain records of where your traffic was referred from and what keywords were used. Practitioners of both SEO and PPC also use tools that capture the search terms used by people - you may have heard of Wordtracker for example.
Search engine optimisation - getting higher search engine ranks in the 'natural' listings
The main search results are known as the 'natural' listings. Search engine 'spiders' or software, visit your web pages, index the content that they can access and check which pages are linking to yours and which pages you link to.
SEO splits into onsite and offsite.
Your first onsite challenge is to ensure that the search engines can access all the pages that you want them to deliver in their search results. Many sites are built with complex code using Flash, Frames or just far too much messy code. This doesn't help the search engines.
Secondly you need to give the spiders plenty of relevant content. That's RELEVANT content. Sorry to shout but it's critical to remember that what the search engines are trying to do is to deliver relevant search results. They will reward web pages with content that's relevant to web searches - it's that simple.
You need to write at least 450 words per page and ensure that your keywords are spread across your site. There are technical issues too - your meta title and description tags need to be written in the same way that you would write a pay-per-click advertisement - the reason is that they are what the search engines display in their results. When you write a ppc ad you have a headline and a description designed to persuade the searcher to click on your ad as opposed to the other dozen or so ads on the page. The same principle applies to the natural search listings.
Other onsite issues include sitemaps, alt tags and robots.txt files.
Offsite optimisation is primarily about building links into your site from other relevant web pages. Google in particular regards 'votes' from other web pages as one of the most important criteria in assessing a page's search engine rank. You can build links by submitting to directories, writing articles for other sites, offering an RSS feed from your site and by buying or exchanging links.
But before you invest any money to get a higher search engine rank you would be well advised to install a web analytics system that will tell you at a glance how your site and its marketing are performing. We can help you with that - Google provides a very good system for free.