It’s official; online advertising has passed print advertising in overall spending in 2010.

If you’re not spending the resources to capture your target market when they go online to look for your product/service, you ARE losing business.

Another fun fact: 60 percent of all businesses are putting more money into online advertising than to off-line, traditional marketing. Are you one of  those businesses?

Your customers today don’t wait for you to give them information; they’re finding it themselves online, using the Internet to research price, features, benefits and sellers of the products and services you provide.

Are you helping your potential customers in their decision making process, or are you letting your competitors do so?

If you’re not, having your website properly optimized for the search engines (search engine optimization, or SEO), can go a long way to your business being found at the top of a search engine’s results. Since almost 90 percent of consumers use the Internet to research their purchases, your website needs to rank high on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Yet you must understand that proper optimization takes time — possibly a good three months until you see meaningful results.

But as a long-term marketing strategy, optimization is exceptionally cost effective and has one of the lowest customer acquisition costs over the long-term compared to other marketing and advertising strategies.

A good SEO company will be able to research and ascertain the proper combination of SEO strategies, and can meld it into a successful integrated marketing plan.

As you work with your SEO company, you’ll want to ask them to ensure that links to your site appear in three sections of a search engine result: the maps section (where people look local for providers of products and services), the paid section (usually the results at the very top and right hand side of a page; these are paid advertisements), and the organic section (your business ranks high in organic when your site has been properly optimized for keywords).