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1 in 3 businesses still do not optimise their position in search engines

- 40 per cent of business owners unaware of how search results are compiled
- Growth in SMEs included within search engines since 2006

10 February 2009, Gloucester, UK: More than 1 in 3 (35 per cent) of UK businesses with a website make no effort to optimise their position within Internet Search Engines, according to research released today by Fasthosts Internet Ltd, (www.fasthosts.co.uk), the UK's number one web hosting company. Worryingly, the survey of 405 UK businesses found that many business owners are unaware of how search listings are compiled, and are confused over the cost and time required to optimise their own rankings. A further survey over 1600 UK consumers found that consumers today are heavily reliant on search engines to find retailers, and have a strong preference for 'Organic' or main search engine results as opposed to additional 'Sponsored' links which businesses pay to display, with more than 1 in 3 people (38 per cent) choosing to ignore these when they appear. Fasthosts' data also reveals that the proportion of UK businesses that do not submit their websites to search engines has fallen from 49 per cent in 2006 to only 17 per cent in 2009.

As our gateways to the Web, Internet Search Engines are the most commonly used websites for the majority of Britons. However, Fasthosts' 'Online Search For Business Survey' found that one third of British businesses are reducing their chances of being found online by failing to optimise their search rankings. Fasthosts' survey also found that 40 per cent of business owners either have no idea or an inaccurate view of how online search results are determined. Search engine results are, in fact, ordered according to a combination of relevance to search terms and optimisation techniques used by the individual website owners.

Around 1 in 5 business owners (19 per cent) incorrectly believe that the order of search engine results cannot be influenced by the publishers of websites such as themselves. A further 12 per cent suspect that results are ordered entirely according to how much has been paid by the businesses listed.

Thus, it is perhaps unsurprising that 1 in 3 companies (35 per cent) still do not make any efforts to optimise their search rankings, making them more difficult to find online as a result. When this figure is combined with the 17 per cent completely absent from search engines, a very alarming half (52 per cent) of all British businesses are not benefiting from 'Search Engine Optimisation' (SEO) a vital commercial practice in 2009. Given that over two thirds (69 per cent) of companies recognise that consumers often rely on main search results to find online retailers, it is remarkable that so many businesses remain on the sidelines.

Steve Holford, Chief Marketing Officer, Fasthosts Internet Ltd, said "No business today can afford to neglect its position within search engines. In learning the basics of how Internet search works, a business owner will appreciate what a powerful impact it can make on their sales function".

Widespread confusion amongst business owners over the cost and time involved with SEO could be a potential reason for many enterprises neglecting the issue. A third of owners (33 per cent) surveyed believe that it would not be possible to implement any optimisation themselves using an SEO tool. 1 in 5 owners (22 per cent) believe that it would be 'challenging' or 'impossible' to achieve any improvement of their rankings themselves.

Furthermore, two thirds of companies (68 per cent) over-estimate the cost of optimising their rankings, with 40 per cent over-estimating the cost of an SEO tool by at least 3 times. Whilst understandably, many businesses may be reluctant to make large investments online, the business case for SEO solutions is highly impressive. From only £100 a year, a company can implement a solution that will ensure improved rankings.

A further study by Fasthosts of 1600 UK adults, exploring the public's day-to-day use of search engines, found that Britons have a strong preference for 'Organic' or main search results as opposed to additional 'Sponsored' links. More than 1 in 3 people (38 per cent) claim to ignore these whenever they appear. The findings further underline the need to perform search engine optimisation for business websites. With two thirds of web users (66 per cent) reporting that they always pay attention first to main results, businesses should ensure that their website has an optimal structure and content for search engines. By choosing and 'tagging' one main keyword or short phrase for each page of their website, a business can encourage search engines to associate the page with that phrase.

Today, there are web-based tools available which any business can use to improve their position within search engines. For example, Fasthosts TrafficDriver, available from only £24 per year+VAT, will submit a business website to hundreds of search engines worldwide and guarantee a Google listing. TrafficDriver also generates detailed monthly reports that can provide excellent insights when defining an online marketing strategy. Such 'point & click' solutions for search engine optimisation are rapidly increasing in popularity.

Holford added, "In the coming year, more firms will turn to the Internet as a swift and cost-effective way to expand their sales and lead generation. Research suggests that SEO should now be a top priority for many UK enterprises. It could well become their wisest investment this year".

As the UK's largest web host, Fasthosts offers a comprehensive range of web solutions including domain name registrations, email solutions (including mobile email services), shared web hosting, dedicated servers, online payment services, reseller web hosting and feature-rich broadband packages. For more information on Fasthosts, see the website at www.fasthosts.co.uk

Press contact
Richard Stevenson   +44 (0)1452 561857   press@fasthosts.co.uk

About Fasthosts

Fasthosts is the UK's largest independent hosting company. Based in the UK, and operating 24 x 7 from their dedicated web hosting data centre, Fasthosts keep over 800,000 internet domains running smoothly ensuring over 4 million emails are delivered safely each day. All Fasthosts services can be self-managed through the unique Fasthosts web-based control panel enabling customers to set up and manage new web sites, email accounts, databases, and other hosted services online. For more details please visit: www.fasthosts.co.uk

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