Last week Econsultancy’s Graham Charlton took a look at Ten things Asda can do better online.

What I found surprising is that neither Asda, or any of the other leading UK supermarkets, rank above #9 in Google UK for the term ‘supermarket’.

They also don’t appear to be too interested in optimising their websites for this term either. Below I’ve taken a look at how the top five UK Supermarkets optimise their homepage title tags:

There are obviously other terms which are likely to be more important in terms of conversion rates, first and foremost the individual brand name, and other terms such as ‘online grocery’ or ‘online grocery shopping’ (as targeted by Tesco). But given the very large search volume of the keyword ‘supermarket’, this surely has to be a key term to target search traffic from?

The Google AdWords keyword tool, shows that ‘supermarket’ as an exact match generated 27,100 clicks in the UK during August at an average cost per click of £2.82. As a PPC cost this would have totaled £76,422 for this one keyword alone during the month.

If you consider that by optimising for this term rankings are likely to be achieved for many variations of supermarket queries, then it’s worth considering that the broad match of supermarkets generated 1.5 million clicks last month (at the same CPC). This much traffic would have cost £4,245,000! Yes, they wouldn’t have generated as many clicks in reality, but if they could gain high rankings for a number of top search terms then the 56% of #1 organic clickthroughs would be going directly to their own website instead of competitors.

Even Ocado, which specialises in online grocery delivery, isn’t best optimising its website for traffic- and conversion-driving search terms.

What do you think, are the UK supermarkets seriously missing out on increasing online traffic and sales?

Kevin Gibbons is Director of Search for SEOptimise .