Here's a question in the vein of the old "if a tree falls in the forest, does anyone hear it": Is it worth having a Web site if no one sees it?
A recent study conducted by Microsoft's adCenter unit found that SMBs in the UK squander 3 billion (U.S. $6.2 billion) of investment on Web sites that are "virtually invisible" to search engines, reports vnunet.com.
Microsoft admittedly stands to gain from promoting search engine marketing, but we don't doubt that plenty of SMBs (and larger businesses for that matter) aren't deriving the value they should from their Web sites.
Of the 2.79 million SMBs in the UK with a Web presence, 62 percent do not use search engine marketing. According to Microsoft, 44 percent of them believe search engine marketing takes too much time, while 56 percent think it costs too much and 33 percent consider it too complicated. Yet 76 percent of SMBs promoting their sites on search engines experience an immediate increase in sales, the study found.
As we've blogged before, pay-per-click Internet advertising programs often provide more value for SMBs than more traditional advertising avenues such as the Yellow Pages. It's easier to assess the effectiveness of online ads and to halt them if they don't yield the expected returns, obviously not an option with many other forms of advertising.
This E-Commerce Times story details some of the online options available to SMBs, including Microsoft's adCenter and Google's AdWords. An IDC analyst recommends trying out several different ones to determine which ones yield the most value. The analyst says:
You can get a feeling for whether you like the touch and feel of it, the user interface. You get to know whether you like the reporting features, which are really important, and the amount of money per click and number of page views. So you know how much money you have to pay all in all.
Microsoft adCenter offers 10 helpful search engine tips for SMBs in the news release announcing the results of its study.