Level of Search Engine Optimization Not Optimal

Less than 10% of the Fortune 100 is effectively using search engine optimization for their Web sites, according to a new study by Oneupweb.

Integrated search engine marketing firm Oneupweb analyzed the main corporate sites of Fortune magazine’s top 100 companies to determine the level of effectiveness with which
each company has used search engine optimization (SEO).

The analysis indicates that the number of companies effectively using SEO is quite
small — only nine of the 100 companies in the study. Oneupweb’s
criteria for effective use is based on the practice of both “ethical” and “unethical” SEO
methods. “Ethical” methods include pertinent keywords in tags and relevant
titles and body text, whereas “unethical” methods include invisible
text and image links, keyword tags not related to the business sector
and other methods used to trick search engines.

Those deemed moderate SEO users by Oneupweb are those firms which employ too few
optimization techniques or use enough but employ them ineffectively.
Moderate SEO users account for 47% of the Fortune 100. About the same
percentage of companies, 44%, use no SEO at all. This is a slight change
from a survey Oneupweb conducted in 2002, which found that over 50%
of Fortune 100 companies did not use SEO at all, while 44% used some
methods, and only 3% had effectively optimized their site for search.

Comparing the level of SEO to a company’s position in a search engine’s rankings,
Oneupweb finds that search engine optimization can pay off. Companies
with effective SEO often end up in the top 10 search results on Google
for their respective keywords. This year, 7 out of the 9 firms effectively
using SEO had placement in the top 10 Google results presented for
a search on their respective primary keywords. On the other hand, a
lack of SEO efforts results in over 80% of those companies missing
the Google top 10 list altogether.

Although there has been a general migration towards SEO, Oneupweb is surprised that
it hasn’t been adopted by more companies since 2002. Indeed, while
the number of firms not using optimization at all has dropped below
50%, analysts expected many more effectively-optimized sites in 2004 — as
many as 30. Oneupweb expects a future study to show all of the Fortune
100 employing at least moderately-optimized sites.

Although Fortune 100 companies often benefit from name recognition and a commanding
position in their industry, poor site design can still result in lower
search engine rankings. Conversely, competitors have an opportunity
to take advantage of this sluggishness by making sure their SEO is
top notch so that they can gain a higher profile in search results
and thus among online customers at large.

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