As soon as you get serious about increasing your web site’s traffic, you will hear the three magic words: search engine optimization. SEO is not a fad; its benefits have a proven track record. It is not a mystery, either. With a few simple tips you can start improving your web site’s search engine performance immediately.

If you own a local business and want to make yourself more visible to search engines, make sure you list your business on Google Places. This step will bring up your business to the top of a Google search and will show any information you include (address, phone, website), as well as a map. You will greatly increase visits to your website – and visits to your business.

If you are going to spend money at all in your SEO efforts, a wise buy would be to open a PPC account. A pay-per-click campaign with Google or any other competitor will help you get your site ranked highly in a hurry. There’s nothing these big companies behind search engines love more than money, so it’s a “shortcut” for the people who can afford it.

A site map is crucial, if you are trying to increase your traffic flow. This will make all of your pages accessible from each other. If you put links at the side of the site, it will increase traffic.

Be specific about your keywords and phrases and keep it simple. If you try to catch every keyword in your niche, you will have spread yourself too thin. Target a select few and use them creatively and often while still maintaining a natural flow to your page. By doing this you can push to the top of the list much easier.

Mark important keywords by bolding, italicizing or underlining them. Google looks for these markings and determines that those words are keywords for your content. It will then weigh those words more heavily. Take note: Don’t bold, italicize or underline words they you do not feel are keywords, as Google will misinterpret them as important.

Avoid guilt by association and check the pagerank of your outbound links on a regular basis. Just like a neighborhood can go bad, so can a website. Pagerank will tell you if the site is still considered good. If it’s changed get that link off your page asap.

Aside from quality content, the best way to optimize your website’s ranking in a search engine is with quality external links that point to your website. While search engines do take the number of links into account, the quality of the links is also important. For example, avoid inconsequential link farms and aim for links that are relevant to your business.

Though it might seem arcane at first glance, search engine optimization is really not complicated. Tactics like the ones you have just read about can make a big improvement in your web site’s search engine rankings. In the end, good SEO is just a matter of knowing how to get the most out of your website and the effort you put into it.