To answer this question, you first have to make an important distinction: When you work with the right kinds of online marketing and search engine optimization firms, the results will speak for themselves. In time, you’ll have more visitors to your business website than ever, and they’ll be targeted traffic, likely to convert into leads and sales.

If you work with the kind of SEO partner who likes to take shortcuts, however, then all you’re likely to get for your trouble is a stack of invoices.

With that in mind, here are a few things that business owners and executives have to understand about the search engine optimization process:

SEO does indeed work.
Any reputable online marketing firm is going to be able to show you case studies where they have improved their clients’ rankings, and how new sales ultimately came from those improvements.

The numbers don’t lie.
A first-page ranking on Google, for a major keyword or phrase, typically results in 25 to 30 times more traffic from the world’s largest search engine. If you have a quality business website, that means more phone calls, leads, or online sales.

A good search plan can take time.
The right kinds of web design and online marketing companies aren’t going to fill you with false promises. Depending on your market, a good search engine optimization plan can take anywhere from a few months to over a year before you see substantial results. It’s hard work, and it requires some patience, but it’s worth the effort.

There is a big difference between traffic and sales.
Another trait of a good web design and SEO team is that they won’t focus solely on search traffic – they will also help you to convert a greater percentage of visitors into buyers. It isn’t enough to have traffic; you need new sales for your SEO campaign to pay off.

Research is a big part of the equation.
In the same way, you don’t just want to attract any kind of buyer from the Internet, but someone who closely resembles your perfect customer. To find those people, and reach them with the right marketing messages, takes a good deal of research before your SEO campaign begins.

Having the right team on your side is invaluable.
As you’re probably starting to see, a lot of your success or failure depends on having the right team on your side. SEO is part art and part science, so it pays to have a committed team of experienced professionals working for your company.

Want to see the right kinds of search engine optimization results in 2012? Talk to Effusion about your marketing goals, and we’ll help you reach them.