An interesting summary of a recent ‘State of UK Business Websites 2010’ study has been posted on the excellent Econsultancy blog, which highlights that most SMEs are failing when it comes to SEO.

The study, commissioned by Thomson Local, was carried out by Analytics SEO and looked at 1,001 SME websites to review them against a range of SEO criteria.

In many ways, we are not surprised by the general findings but there are some interesting specific points:

  • A correlation between organisation size and level of search engine optimisation (notably, 70% of companies with less than 50 employees having minimal or no evidence of search optimisation) : perhaps unsurprising, but we have seen a growing amount of small / new businesses that do totally ‘get’ online and know how important search can be. Equally, there are still many old-school businesses (thinking specifically about legal firms) who continue to amaze us for their reticence to embrace digital, so it is likely that the size factor may be less important over the coming years in our humble opinion.
  • 12% of business websites are not indexed at all : this is obviously crippling to the value of having a website at all – if a search engine doesn’t know your site is there, it will never send any traffic to it.
  • 82% of SME websites do not have an html sitemap and 75% do not have an XML sitemap : Both these figures are alarmingly high, as it is very easy to create a sitemap, but it is surprising to see that there are more sites with XML sitemaps than html sitemaps.

It is an interesting study and one that would be good to see each year, to see how SMEs use of the online channel evolves.

To those involved at the coalface of online marketing, it seems incredible to think that many businesses are still not taking online very seriously, but it is easy to forget that setting up a business is demanding and business owners are pulled in a lot of different directions.

Whilst battling with the innevitable business issues / hurdles that are thrown at you, it can be easy to put the website on a low priority list and any thoughts of SEO will probably be put on the ‘only do if the world has stopped spinning’ list, so it is not really very surprising to see the results of the study.

We should also remember that search marketing is still a relatively new phenomenon and businesses have survived and prospered without it before. It would be foolish to suggest that you should ignore it, but it would be equally foolish to write off a business simply because it doesn’t have an html sitemap.

We work with companies both large and small and always enjoy the challenge of SEO for SMEs, so please feel free to contact us today if you feel that you belong to the 47% of SMEs that are currently not engaging with SEO.