no longer optimizes web sites we did not make. Our SEO skills are reserved for companies that hire us to design web sites.
The two most common mistakes businesses make with their web sites is they set their web site up as an advertisement and not a research document. Another common mistake is they showcase what they are proud of and not what people are looking for. This is very common in the tourism and service industries. That's why it's always good to have a third party, who are not too close to your products and services, submit a fresh perspective.
Optimization Vs. Construction:
The Internet is a research medium, not an advertising medium. Search engines such as Google, Bing & Yahoo designed their search algorithms based on how medical papers are organized and cross referenced in a medical library.
The secret to search engine optimization is understanding how medical papers are organized and cross referenced and then building a web site based on that. That's 95% of the game. Time and time again we have people contact us asking to optimize their web site, which means manipulating the embedded search strings, which are called Meta Tags. We tell them they are wasting their time and money because their web site is constructed as an advertisement and not a research document. Manipulating keywords on a poorly designed web site will only increase traffic in a minimal way.
There are also other things to consider such as the name of the page files, the name of the pictures, unique written content, alt tags, your location, the demand for your products and services and the amount of competition you have. These are all factors, which determine the amount of traffic you will get. Knowledge of a company's products and services and the buying behavior of their target markets are also key factors in designing a web site that will produce sales. Anybody can make a web site. Getting you seen in an ocean of trillions of web pages and showcasing your products and services with strong marketability is what makes a web designer a professional.
If your web site is not getting much traffic then most likely it needs to be rebuilt. Ultimately, the more information you have on your web site the more traffic you will get. Having it organized into highly subject-specific pages is how you get penetration and show up high in organic search results.
NEW FOR 2011: Exchanging links with other web sites is now considered spamming by Google, Bing and Yahoo. You can link to unique content or people can link to your unique content but the links have to be references supporting the subject matter of your page. An example is talking about how to catch Walleye and then referencing the walleye fishing tips at my Walleye Heaven web site. Trading links and having links pointing at each other's home pages to artificially increase your link popularity is spamming and your web site will be penalized or even blacklisted. If you want more information you can read Google's Webmaster guidelines http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66356