There are other factors, but if you get these things right it will have a large impact on your placing in Google. I'd concentrate on Google as they have the market share of search - but these concepts will also apply to Yahoo, Microsoft Search, Ask Jeeves and other SE's too.
Making changes to all these things will improve your standing in the search engines and in-turn will improve your traffic - without having to pay them. I would advise making these changes before you make any decisions to buy into an Adwords campaign – Adwords are the 'sponsored links' at the top of Google's Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
You could approach Google tomorrow and pay them to be the first sponsored link at the top of the page for the word 'widget' - however this would cost you a fortune as it would cost you money every time someone clicked into your site from their SERPs, regardless of whether they buy anything. Conversion is key to website traffic from paid SE listings - if you pay them for Adwords, a % of your visitors must buy widgets to make it a worthwhile investment. Adwords also leaves you open to attack from a possible competitors 'clicking' frenzy – it happens.
So for now I think it is better if you try and improve your 'organic' rankings for more targeted key phrases like 'rare red widget' - there is still competition for this phrase but the number of competing pages drops from 300,000,000 (for widget) to 10,000! * - A much more manageable number.
* or appropriate contrasting figures
Organic listings are free - basically they're the result of a websites importance determined by Google's algorithms - this forms Page Rank and determines a non-sponsored pages position in the SERPs. You have your home page listed in Google for the search term:
After a short period searching I could not find your other pages – so no one else will.
Not to worry though, some small on-page additions/changes/deletions will start to impact on your rankings for all your pages. This will, in turn, improve your traffic. It's quite a slow process but in the long term it ensures results continue without paying the SE's a penny.
You can do this in many ways. But before we talk about that...
…Imagine you are a potential visitor, you just got your pay cheque and want to spend your money on an "rare red widget that would look great in the dining room"… what do you think that visitor will be looking for from the website that they find…
Videos of your shop? Music?
Stylish graphics and animations?
Interestingly none of these things are as important as the first thing a user wants, subconsciously or not: Good content!
Well-written interesting content is the key to web success and is the single most important concept. Unbelievably it is still overlooked by many website developers. Everything is secondary to it – it may seem obvious but this simple nugget of knowledge will give you an advantage over many other rare-red-widgets dealers and their websites.
A little more on the improvements I listed above:
Your site needs some visual improvement - user trust is very important and none more so than that first impression they get when visiting your pages. A re-design will not only make you site more 'sticky' for the users who visit, but by designing with the underlying structure in mind it'll help SE's digest your content more easily too.
With a little tweaking and some imagination we could make a big difference to the way your site looks and make your site stick in the minds of your visitors.
(Accessible) Layout & Structure
Page organisation is critical. A clever website will start serving the page content as soon as people arrive, positioning the content in a balanced way that is well spaced and easy to digest. If a person wants more info give it to them, but paradoxically, it's best not to try and cram too much info onto one page.
The structure of most sites work in the form of a pyramid – the home page on the top - being the distributor for subsections, the subsections distribute to the most important bits: the money pages. Your money pages, for example, will detail each of your different rare red widgets.
Making your pages accessible so that any person, regardless of the type of software and hardware they use, can get the info they want easily is something that must be accounted for – this includes disabled visitors or those using mobile devices like PDA’s.
Well-structured accessible content is conducive to a happy Google.
I've already covered this but just to iterate: CONTENT IS KING!
Additionally, something you might want to consider is building up a community of people who also take an interest in rare red widgets. You could do this by writing about them regularly and using a publishing system called a Blog or small forum. By doing this you will get repeat visitors and generate better organic results because of the new content - and because people will link to you…
When all the above have been covered then you can begin a campaign to get as many inbound links as you can. This is important for SE's. Theoretically the more inbound links you have the higher the page ranking it will give you. Without good inbound links your site will not be as prosperous in the SERPs.
Inbound links should be composed like this: