Success is neither magical or mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals. - Jim Rohn.
With all the hype these days around social media or whether or not to build a mobile app, two recently published studies help reinforce the idea that websites need to focus on the basics first. Organizations need to ensure that they're discoverable on search engines and have processes in place for SEO.
The first comes from a Pew Internet survey conducted in May that 92% of adults use search engines to find information online, and 59% of those are daily users:
So what does mean? Make sure you have a structurally sound site that search engines can crawl and index (not all Flash). Use proper title tags, H1, alt tags, and meta descriptions that are unique to each page and optimized for relevant keywords. Build links to your site, and don't remain static. Search engines tend to like sites that update regularly, so try an integrated blog and valuable content (which can attract links).
The second positive reinforcement for SEO basics comes from the 8th annual MarketingSherpa 2012 Search Marketing Benchmark Report for SEO. Included in this 177 page report, with more than 150 charts, is one in particular that shows the most successful organizations are ones with formal processes and guidelines for SEO practices:
So we know from earlier that it's essential to have website that findable on search engines, and now we see that some level of processes have to be in place in order to see the best results. Whether you perform that SEO in-house or outsource to an agency is up to you, but there needs to be some level of optimization performed on your site.
These SEO fundamentals are the most critical piece of any website, because once that's set it opens up possibilities elsewhere. You can run pay-per-click advertising to drive more visits, interact with your audience on social media and bring them back to your site, or create a mobile version of your site to capture the on-the-go traffic. But you have to start with the basics first.