In today’s world it is becoming more and more important for all businesses, whatever their size, to have a web site to promote their products and services from. Even small local businesses servicing small niche markets can seriously benefit from an online presence.A simple web site can be a great lead generation tool for a small business. The site does not need the capability in most cases to take actual orders, its main purpose can be to promote products and capture the details of visitors so that they can be sold to at a later date.Or maybe its purpose can just be to put the business’s phone numbers and email addresses in front of prospects when they are in need of their services. More and more people are looking online for products and services they need rather than picking up the traditional phone directories. Therefore not having a prominent online presence is now a big mistake.But a web site alone does not equate to an online presence. People have to be able to find the web site once it has been published. To appear at the top of the major search engine listings, the web site has to be optimized for the search engines. Search engine optimization, also known as ‘SEO’ is the part of the equation that most small businesses fail to do.SEO involves careful selection of the words that actually appear on your web pages and precise placement of those keywords on your site. SEO also involves building links to your site from other people’s web sites.Search engines rank sites in their listings based on the relevance of content and on the number of recommendations the site has received, with inbound links in this scenario being regarded as recommendations from other webmasters. The problem is though, without the right tools, link building from other sites can be very time consuming, and that is why small businesses are well advised to use professional SEO service providers to do the task for them.So my advice to small businesses is to spend the minimum on web site design, keep it basic and instead spend more on search engine optimization services.A site that ranks well in the search engines will attract a lot of visitors and can generate a lot of business from even small companies, so the investment if optimised should always show a healthy return on investment.