Initial SEO consultancy and web strategy planning are highly important aspects that affect both your web design and your websites chance of ranking well in the search engines. Sadly in many cases these basics are often overlooked or paid scant regard during the initial web design phase, but ignoring them could set your sites success back many months. Whilst the visual aspects of your website design are very important to portray your professional image or your corporate brand identity and to create the right "mood" for your visitors you also need to understand how to get visitors to your site in the first place! This is not about the visitors who already know of your businesses existence or who may be visiting your web as a result of your normal business marketing activity, but rather about potential customers and clients that may be looking for your goods and services but are not even aware of your company's existence. This is often referred to as free organic search engine traffic and in many cases unless your website is specifically optimized to capture these free clients and to get high rankings in the search engines, then this free potential business will be captured by your competitors instead of yourselves and your website will never achieve its true potential. Without doubt the best time to optimize your website and define the requirements of your web marketing strategy is prior to the launch of your new website, as this will ensure that your website gives the best first message to the search engines about your business services and offerings, and it also ensures that your website is indexed accordingly for the search terms your potential clients are actually using. Of course it is entirely possible to leave any optimization and planning until after your website is launched but the danger here is that the search engines will already have "voted " , about the intent of your website and it's target audience, and the downside of this is you will then have to re-educate them which can take many, many months and could cost you a lot of business. Initial SEO consultancy and web strategy planning enable your web designer to accurately define the success criteria for your business website from both an initial on page optimization aspect and also an ongoing web marketing aspect too. A minimum of three essential elements should be included which are: Initial Consultancy This is to establish the vision / success criteria for your site and other business aspects for example: What is your sites intent? Where is your target market (regional / national)? Defining your service offerings. Current route to market. Forward vision. Research Phase This is to establish where you sit in your market sector, where you need to focus and also to establish an understanding of the search habits of your potential clients. It includes: Competitive analysis of your web based competition: Keyword research: What is your target customer actually searching for (not necessarily what you may think)? Defining a content and growth strategy based on competitive analysis and keyword research results. Web Marketing Strategy Just as with traditional marketing you need to attract visitors in order to make a sale. This phase includes the definition of a forward web marketing strategy that takes into account aspects of the initial consultancy and research phases in order to maximize the success of your website in the shortest possible time frame. Of course web marketing planning and initial search engine optimisation can be ignored, but you do need to be aware that without it you are holding back the potential of your website from the day it goes lives. If your web developer offers this service as part of there web development plan consider it as "best advice" and an essential element to your websites initial and ongoing success, not just another way for the developer to make extra profit.