FTSE 100 losing the search battle

Research indicates that Britain's leading firms are losing out on business since they don't understand search engines
Written by Jo Best, Contributor

Banks and financial institutions are getting left behind in the race for consumers' attention while travel firms and retailers are a lot more search savvy, according to new research.

Research by search marketing company The Search Works has found that 64 percent of FTSE 100 companies' Web sites don't rank in the first page of search results for keywords, which could see them losing the 90 percent of would-be buyers who never look further than the initial page of results.

The research found that financial institutions fared particularly badly with keyword searches on generic products, such as 'bank' or 'credit card', failing to turn up on the first page while similar searches on frequently used travel keywords had a higher FTSE 100 presence on the first page.

The Search Works CEO, Nick Hynes, said: "The travel sector historically has led the way on search marketing and it's getting it right. They really understand what consumers are looking for... whether that's because of their offline business or because they're early converts to search. When you search for big names [in finance] like HSBC, Lloyds TSB, Royal Bank of Scotland -- yes, they'll come up, but when people search for things... like 'insurance', their presence is woeful."

According to Hynes, travel companies have links with 20,000 or 30,000 search keywords, whereas financial institutions commonly have hundreds.

As well as the travel industry, FTSE 100 retailers fared well in maintaining their presence for generic searches, despite their traditionally offline background.

Despite the banks' blip, the FTSE 100 in general is improving in the search arena. The Search Works found that this year, 100 percent of the big businesses appear on the first page of search results for a company name search, compared with around two-thirds in 2003.

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