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Many small businesses in the UK are failing to make the most of their online presence, with 47% of SME websites studied having either very basic or no SEO work at all. 

This is one of the findings of the State of UK Business Websites 2010 study, carried out by Analytics SEO and commissioned by Thomson Local

The study looked at 1,001 SME websites and compared them against a range of SEO criteria; including indexing in search engines, and signs of onsite optimisation. 

Some highlights from the study: 

  • The study found a correlation between the size of business and the levels of search engine optimisation. Larger companies tended to have better optimised sites, while over 70% of companies with less than 50 employees had either very basic levels of optimisation, or none at all. 
  • Amazingly, 12% of all business websites are not indexed in any search engine, which almost defeats the purpose of having a website in the first place. According to the study, just 3% of all business websites 'could be considered to have advanced levels of SEO'. 
  • Many of the problems are down to businesses not implementing SEO basics. For instance, 35% of websites did not have unique page titles, and 56% lacked unique page descriptions. These are relatively quick SEO wins for small businesses. 
  • Sites with HTML and XML sitemaps on average have more pages indexed in Google, yet 82% of small business websites had no HTML sitemap, and 75% no XML sitemap. 

Clearly, there are plenty of small businesses that are yet to see the value of effective SEO, or perhaps lack the knowledge to carry out the basics of site optimisation.

These businesses should be looking to correct this as, implemented well, SEO has the potential to be a very important and cost-effective sales channel.

Whilst not every company will have the resources or know-how to run an effective campaign, simply getting the basics right, such as ensuring that a site can be indexed and contains relevant content, can make a noticeable difference to search results. 

For those businesses looking to improve their SEO, Econsultancy's Selling Online How-to Guide for Small Businesses contains some basic SEO tips, while our SEO Best Practice Guide contains everything you need to know about search engine optimisation. 

Graham Charlton

Published 27 July, 2010 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (2)

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Singh @ business amateur

Hello Mr. Graham. I believe there are still plenty of people in the world who have no idea what Search Engine Optimization is and why they even need it.

To people who are more tech savvy, it is second nature to make sure their sites are optimized in every way to stay competitive. Others are still learning how to make the most from their online businesses.

about 6 years ago

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James Cope

I think I would agree with these findings in the main, those issues are common to the business I have met working at Business Link as an adviser that specialised in Website Advice.

Business owners are often bombarded with information and often do not know which piece of advice to take and end up doing nothing. They struggle to understand what the return on investment of an increased ranking will give them as often do not know how much business is generated by the site.

In some cases I would argue that some businesses do not need to have an optimised site, it very much depends on the objectives of that individual business and their route to market.

Good to see some useful guides on offer here for those that have indentified that search engines are an important route to market and need to optimise.

almost 6 years ago

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