Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website through organic means. You can think of it as getting your business out there from the back alley by working to get it listed on Google.
Why is SEO important to your business?
You need SEO to make your business visible to the people with the money to buy from you! A business with no traffic is almost worthless. You could be a big company, with a huge marketing department, but without SEO you may never get the traffic necessary to make a sale.
You are in the back alley without any traffic; it is hard to get people to notice your business. Even if you have a large team of people working on your business, without the traffic that Search Engine Optimization brings, chances are they will not get enough work done.
If your website has been around for awhile and is not indexed by the search engines, it is going to be very difficult to get any new traffic. Not only that, but you may find that the old traffic does not give much feedback as to how they got to your website.
The main function of Search Engine Optimization is to make your site visible on the pages of search results so that when those pages are run through keyword searching engines your business is there to catch the attention of interested people.
Search Engine Optimization is a long term process because there are many moving parts in a website. The biggest moving part is the design and content. The rest of the pieces work together to make your site visible.
There is a lot of technical work required in creating a SE-rich website that will be well indexed. But that is the least expensive and least skilled technical job that you can do. The most expensive and most skilled technical job is designing a SE-rich website. The content is the least skilled and the hardest in the technical aspect. This is the part that takes the longest time, but will pay the most in the form of new traffic and sales.