If you do any internet work, especially if you do internet marketing, you have to be aware of SEO (search engine optimization) and know the fundamentals. This post is not by any means going to be an in-depth explanation of what SEO is. I just want to give my take on why I think everyone should know it, even if they don't work in search.
The Basics of SEO
SEO is the process of making a website perform better in search engine results pages (SERPs). The ultimate goal is to get your website #1 on Google for your keywords. This is done by programming your website to be search engine friendly (having the right tags, sitemaps, etc.), having optimized content on your site (words and phrases matching high volume search queries), and having quality and numerous outside content linking to your site.
Driving the Right Traffic to Your Site
Let's say you own a nice Italian restaurant, but the building used to be a McDonalds and still looks like it. You're in a great part of town, with lots of car traffic and foot traffic. Lots of people come into your restraint, but many are expecting a McDonalds and leave quickly. You're getting lots of people coming into the store but not a lot of business. If you switched up the exterior to look more like a fancy Italian restaurant, more people looking for Italian food would stop in your store and less hamburger seekers.
The same is true for SEO. Good SEO doesn't just increase traffic, it increases quality visits to your site. Many sites have content that isn't about their core business. If you post an interesting article about sneakers on your computer selling website, you might get some traffic from people searching for shoes, but those people ultimately are not looking for a computer and are going to leave your site right away. If you want to sell computers, create content that would come up in a search someone looking to buy a new computer might conduct.
Applying SEO to Web 2.0
Search is everywhere on the internet. We tend to think of SEO only in terms of Google or Yahoo, but the principles of it can and should apply to anything you build on the internet, including social media. Everyone wants more Twitter followers. People think about getting more followers by running promotions or following other people. Those work, but some aspects of SEO can help too. Keep your target customer in mind. Again using the example of a computer selling website, you want people to follow you who are looking to buy a computer. You could tweet about trending things, and you're sure to get a lot of people to see your tweets in twitter searches, but will someone who's searching for Justin Beiber be interested in following a computer selling twitter account? Probably not. Your tweets may not get seen as often if you tweet about duo core processors, but you'll get seen by the right people for you. Think about the kind of person you would get some benefit from his follow on twitter, and then tweet about things that person would look for.
If you want to learn more about SEO check out these other sites:
http://www.bluehatseo.com/ (advanced stuff)
http://guides.seomoz.org/beginners-guide-to-search-engine-optimization (beginners guide)