The majority of FTSE 100 companies have failed to make their websites visible to potential customers on leading search engines such as Yahoo, Google and MSN, research released today has claimed.
According to a poll by search firm The Search Works (formerly known as WSPS), almost two thirds of the official websites of FTSE 100 companies did not appear in the first page or top 10 results of a simple online search using keywords such as 'travel', 'insurance' or 'bank'.
The research showed that the travel sector is the most advanced, achieving a high profile across the largest number of search engines.
It also revealed that the FTSE 100 insurance, banking and other financial services sectors face "considerable challenges" in raising their prominence in search engines for their thousands of products and services.
Nick Hynes, chief executive at The Search Works, warned that companies with transactional websites are missing out on potential sales.
"Large UK companies can no longer expect to remain top of the listings just because they have a well-known name. It is now well recognised that 90 per cent of consumers will look no further than the first page of results from web searches," he said.
"The consumer's ability to locate the products and services they want is key to successful online sales, and those companies without comprehensive and targeted online search advertising campaigns fully integrated into their marketing programmes risk losing sales."
A similar survey carried out by The Search Works in 2003 found that nearly one third of FTSE 100 company websites did not even appear in the top 30 results when searched for by name.
But in 2005, 100 per cent of those currently ranked in the FTSE 100 appear in the first page of all search engine results when a name search is conducted.
Hynes cited additional findings from Nielsen Research which showed that 80 per cent of all online transactions originate from search, while 60 per cent of all online searches begin with the goal of making a purchase.
"Recognising the importance of search positioning is proving to be a major opportunity for search marketing savvy players, who appear to be the smaller and medium-sized players rather than the larger, more established brands," said Hynes.
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