UK businesses are failing to take full advantage of the potential of their websites by ignoring search engine rankings, research has claimed.
Of the 500 UK companies that took part in a recent online survey, almost three quarters do not submit their sites to search engines and, as a result, admitted that their online presence is practically invisible.
The research, carried out by hosting firm Fasthosts, claimed that 68 per cent of companies are missing out on potential sales because consumers use search engines as a first port of call to look for products and services.
Online sales in 2005 are forecast by the Internet Advertising Bureau to reach £19.6bn, up 35 per cent on the previous year's £14.5m and accounting for seven per cent of all retail spending.
"Companies that believe it's enough to register a site and stick the web address on business cards are naive. If you are not listed on Google or Yahoo, your website might as well not be online," said Andrew Michael, chief executive at Fasthosts.
"The search engines are the first port of call for most consumers, and the higher the ranking the bigger the chance of a sale."
To ensure visibility online, companies should submit their sites to search engines immediately after registration and continue submission updates on a regular basis, the report advised.
To achieve the best results, relevant keywords need to be included in meta tags on the homepage, in the coding pages and, if possible, in the domain name.
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