Customers are the foundation of every successful business whether you operate in the real world (brick & mortar shop) or in the virtual world (ebusiness). So, the key to being successful online is awareness i.e. individuals looking to shop for products or services need to be aware that your eStore exists (unless they know about your eStore, they cannot shop there).
In the real world to build awareness, you would go on a marketing blitz. When operating in the online environment, your first step as an eMerchant is not a marketing blitz, it is Optimization as individuals looking for products and services online use Search Engines to find said product or service. A well optimized own website can increase your ranking on search engine result pages, thus, increasing your presence online.
Webopedia defines, 'Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as the process of increasing the amount of visitors to a Web site by ranking high in the search results of a search engine. The higher a Web site ranks in the results of a search, the greater the chance that that site will be visited by a user. It is common practice for Internet users to not click through pages and pages of search results, so where a site ranks in a search is essential for directing more traffic toward the site. SEO helps to ensure that a site is accessible to a search engine and improves the chances that the site will be found by the search engine.'
Here are some fields on your website that you should optimize in order to gain a higher ranking on search engines result pages:
Title Tags: Always use keyword rich text in your title as search engine use the words within your title to index your page and it becomes your identity on the search engine. When developing a keyword rich page title, you need to maintain the title's readability while removing fillers such as the, and, etc. For example, if you sell garments for young adults under the brand 'Attitude', you can use the following title tag 'Clothes that speak for young adults from Attitude'. By adding a descriptive line in addition to your company's name, you increase the possibility of appearing on the search engine result page as more people search by what interests them rather than by company or brand name.
META Tag: In addition to title tags, some search engines include a description below your hyperlinked title in the search results. This one or two liner describes the content of the page. It should include the main keywords appearing on the page. This description is referred to as a META Tag.
Keywords in Headers (H1, H2 & H3): Headlines and sub-heads not only help visitors know what are your key points but also search engines. So, wherever possible include relevant keywords in your headlines and H1, H2, and H3 tags.
Site Map: Whether you have a large website or a small one, a site map is essential. A site map page contains links to all your pages, which makes it easier for both search engines and visitors to locate information.
To summarize, by optimizing the above mentioned fields, you can increase your ranking on search engine result pages. Thus, improving the amount and quality of traffic you receive and your conversion rate.