Companies Lack Sound Search Engine Strategies

Companies who spend millions of dollars developing corporate Web sites are unintentionally damaging their Web site visibility in search engines, according to a study by iProspect.

The study also found that 97 percent of Fortune 100 companies use some form of technology that makes them difficult to be found by search engine users. Although about half of the Fortune 100 company Web sites include keyword META tags, the sites are unlikely to be found through keyword-based searches in the major search engines, creating a serious problem if prospective customers do not know the company’s Web site address or company name.

“Every Fortune 100 company today is spending millions of dollars to develop aesthetically pleasing Web sites with high quality content in the hope of attracting potential customers. Unfortunately, many of the design elements that make Web sites visually attractive may also render these pages invisible to search engines,” said iProspect’s CEO and founder Fredrick Marckini. “The result is that many of these Web sites are difficult and sometimes impossible for users to find on anything other than a search for the actual company or brand name.”

The majority of Internet users, 85 percent, use search engines to find solutions and vendors, according to iProspect. Unless they know a company’s exact Web site address or search by the company or brand name, they will use keywords that describe a product or service’s features, benefits or attributes to conduct their searches. The study found that 45 percent of Fortune 100 companies do not even utilize META tags, and therefore do not include any keywords for the search engines to consider. If a company fails to include accurate META data, special HTML statements that help search engines classify Web pages, its products or services will in all likelihood not appear in the query results.

Very few of the Fortune 100 companies have implemented any kind of search engine positioning as part of their online marketing strategy.

“As the number of pages on the Web grows to more than five billion documents, and with the average search engine containing more than 500 million of them, companies need a strategic solution to ensure their Web sites are found near the top of the search engine results when customers and prospects are looking for them. The study clearly demonstrates that there is a tremendous opportunity for Fortune 100 companies to improve their online visibility,” Marckini said.

Only a small percentage of businesses have dedicated a portion of their marketing budget for building cohesive search engine strategies, according to a report from CyberAtlas Research (a division of INT Media Group, Inc., the parent company of this site).

The report, “Search Engine Optimization Strategies: A Marketer’s Perspective,” found that nearly 46 percent of the marketers surveyed said they allocate less than 0.5 percent of their annual marketing budgets on search engine optimization (SEO) services, while only 10 percent spend more than 25 percent of their marketing budgets on increasing their visibility on the Web.

Nearly 70 percent of the respondents were “somewhat satisfied” or less with the Web traffic they receive from search engines, which suggests there is an opportunity for players in the SEO field to gain revenue from driving more visitors to client’s Web sites. Less than one-quarter (24 percent) of those surveyed said that 75 percent or more of their traffic came from search engine referrals, while 25 percent said that less than 25 percent of their Web traffic originates from search engines. According to the report, this makes it difficult for marketers to know what to expect from initiating SEO regimens or participating in paid placement programs.

The report also found that the adoption of paid placement and submission programs offered by major search engines has grown dramatically, further indicating that free listings may be a thing of the past. More than 30 percent of the firms surveyed have utilized paid participation programs from Yahoo, GoTo.com and LookSmart. The majority of marketers using these services said the best results are produced by targeted marketing programs that leverage select keywords, primarily because these programs increased the volume of relevant traffic to their Web sites.

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