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41% of firms don't use SEO

A quarter think optimisation is too costly

More than two in five (41 percent) of firms do not optimise their positions within search engines, says Fasthosts.

Research by the web hosting firm revealed one in four firms believe that paying to optimise their positions would be too costly and 11 percent said past attempts to optimise their online visibility had failed, putting them off trying again. Furthermore, only 28 per cent of small companies believe that they understand their number of website visitors effectively.

Fasthosts also said more than quarter (27 percent) have never used online methods to interact with customers, while only 23 percent use social networking to further sales and relationships with customers. More than two in five (41 percent) of small firms still don't have an email contact form on their website and just six percent use live chat to communicate with customers via their website. However, one in five firms admitted under-investment in online marketing will probably have a negative effect on sales in the first quarter of 2011.

Furthermore, 38 percent of Brits admit they;look for social media material from firms when making purchases, while only a third of consumer revealed they expect firms to reply to negative online reviews. However, just 14 percent of companies said they make a point of replying to online reviews.

"For many small firms, battling for online visibility can be a real stress and seem too daunting a challenge to take on. However, every business owner should know that there are now low-cost, point-and-click solutions for both improving search engine positions and understanding how their website is being used," said Steve Holford, marketing director at Fasthosts.

See also: Fasthosts launches 'get online' competition


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