Search engine optimisation (SEO) is vital for websites to be successful and attract customers, according to the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
The group's research director David Thorp said that "if you are looking to attract new customers you need to invest in search engine optimisation to drive customers to your web site" - but what exactly is SEO?
In a nutshell, SEO is a way of increasing the number of web users (traffic) visiting your website, as well as improving the quality of that traffic, by using 'natural' search results.
Better SEO will mean an improved ranking in search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Live, Ask.com, and so on. Methods of achieving this include determining what algorithms the search engines use, and designing websites in specific ways.
SEO with fresh content and keywords
For this, the quality and 'freshness' of content is important, since Google and the others are continually striving to improve the quality of searches that they provide, and relevant keywords contained in the text will also help to boost rankings.
This means that if a web user searches for "cheap holidays in Spain", websites containing those keywords, which have been optimised with quality, fresh (ever-changing and relevant) content will be high up in their search.
Link Building is also very important, because a website's prominence is partly determined by how well connected it is to other sites.
The BBC puts it succinctly: "One of the most important factors in deciding how relevant particular sites are is to count how many other sites link to it."
White hat and black hat Search Engine Optimisation
As in any industry, there are well-intentioned SEO practitioners (the majority) and their dodgy counterparts (the minority).
'White hat' techniques are methods of SEO that are approved by search engines, such as putting in place good web design, including a useful number of keywords in the text, including a daily news feed, and so on.
However, there are some out there who will use 'black hat' techniques, which are ways of improving rankings that the search engines do not approve of. These often involve deception and could include hiding text by making it the same colour as the website background, for example.
The search engines themselves work fast to eliminate these practices. Google, Yahoo and the rest deliver ever-more reliable and relevant results, and website users must ensure they have good search engine optimisation in place to take full advantage.
With news that the internet is set to be more popular than the high street for Christmas shopping this year, SEO is simply vital.