It is fair to say that there is a lot of hype out there about making sure your site is optimized for the search engines. There are a number of marketing companies and freelancers promoting free search engine optimization. That is all well and good, but what exactly is search engine optimization? If you think it is all about the use of keywords, you are missing a huge piece of the puzzle.
Not so long ago when someone said they wanted to have a website that was "optimized" all they were talking about was keyword placement. Those keywords did not even really have to refer to what your site was actually about, remember typing in "used cars" and winding up on a site that sold porno? Yes, that was a free search engine optimization tactic that was used to make sure "hot keywords" helped land a site on the top of the results page.
Thankfully those days are long gone. A website owner can not just find the latest and greatest keywords and put them all through their content and land on the top of the results page. Search engines are smarter than that today. Also, keyword stuffing is also a thing of the past. Remember reading content on a site where every four words was the "keyword?" The keyword would be used so often that you never really got anything from the content other than the keyword.
Today you have to be smarter and wiser. To optimize your website you need to use keywords properly. These keywords need to be targeted for your niche. Meaning a website about transmissions for cars should not be using keywords that deal with hair color. The content that is used is also important.
Website content needs to be beneficial to the reader. In other words when someone gets done reading a post on site about oil painting, they need to leave that page with some knowledge that they did not have before. This is important because to correctly optimize a site, the main focus needs to be the people that are going to be reading the content.
To answer the debate about whether or not having a website is important, yes. To answer the question whether or not that site should be optimized, yes but it needs to be done the right way. Search engines are smarter and so are site visitors. Respect them both and see your rankings soar.