Search engine optimization and website marketing are mainstream. The leaders and the followers have optimized their websites. Only the late adopters are left. If you don’t promote your website through search engine optimization soon – you’ll be crushed by the competition. Websites without search engine optimization will quickly die. SEO is mainstream marketing. It is no longer an afterthought. If you are a late adopter and haven’t optimized your website for search engine results or search engine marketing, your competition will quickly surpass you in Internet search engine results. This will lead to the demise of your website. Even if your product is primarily bricks and mortar – your competition will be gaining a Herculean advantage. The Internet online audience is over 70% of the population. This audience takes advantage of Internet marketing strategies. According to Stores magazine, 90% of shoppers research a product on the Internet before buying – either on a regular basis (43.3%) or occasionally (47.3%). Only 9.5% never use the Internet for comparison-shopping. eMarketer reported in January 2008 that 88% of online users are driven to a website because of search engine results. (Study by Deloitte Development and Harrison Group “The State of the Media Democracy Second Edition.”) Google gets an estimated 350 million searches per day. Yes, per day. (That’s what everyone does all day!) Yahoo “only” gets around 300 million. (Online Media, Marketing & Advertising May 2008.) If your website is not optimized, you will be crushed by the competition. The early adopters and the leaders are now focusing on mobile marketing – which is still in its infancy. Mobile marketing requires the search engine optimization techniques that are being used today in web site promotion. Google is well into their research on search engine optimization for mobile marketing. If you don’t apply meaningful search engine optimization techniques to your website now, you will be far behind the next generation of website promotion – if you exist at all. Web site optimization is paying off. Ecommerce sales growth has been around 25% whereas overall retail sales growth has been a slow 6%. Logically following, Internet advertising is growing by 15%, whereas television advertising is only growing by 5%. (Magazine and radio advertising growth is 4% and 2% respectively.) The average person spends almost the same amount of time online as they do watching television – 8 to 20 hours a week – and only one to three hours a week are dedicated to reading the newspaper. Search engine optimization, web site optimization, and search engine marketing go hand in hand. A well-planned Internet marketing strategy will include both. However, the fact that the majority of internet users will choose a website from a natural search engine result – as opposed to the paid advertisements that are typically aligned on the right – is evidence that search engine optimization is the dominating factor for website success. Case studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of search engine optimization over several business metrics abound. The returns on SEO investment are unique to each website, but can be seen in increased web site visitors, in responses to Internet marketing campaigns, customer loyalty, and even brand recognition. Evaluating your website’s promotional mix will demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of search engine optimization. Promotional budgets are wisely being reconstructed to earmark funds for this necessary expenditure in today’s Internet dominated world. Web site visitors are search engine savvy. Broad search terms (horizontal) are giving way to more specific search terms (vertical), and search engines are restructuring to follow these trends. Implementing a search engine optimization plan for your website is necessary for any website marketing strategy. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is no longer new – it is NOW. Your competitors know this and have adopted this website marketing strategy. If your website promotions don’t include web site optimization, the internet marketing skills of your competitors will put them at the top of the search engine results page instead of you, and you will be buried by their followers. Website marketing REQUIRES search engine optimization. If you’re not optimized now – your competitors will have you crushed. It’s not too late to dig yourself out of your grave.