Despite the fact that two years have passed since Oneupweb last analyzed the top 100 Internet retailers to see how well optimized their web sites were, little has changed in terms of how many companies are utilizing search engine optimization and paid search advertising strategies.

Oneupweb determined that, of the top 100 internet retailers, 20 sites were well-optimized, 20 were moderately-optimized, 34 were nominally-optimized, and 27 showed no signs of optimization at all.

In 2005, 17 sites were well-optimized, 25 were moderately-optimized, 35 were nominally-optimized, and 23 showed no signs of optimization.

In 2004, 12 sites were well-optimized, 23 were moderately-optimized, 29 were nominally-optimized, and 36 showed no signs of optimization.

The study looks at the top 100 internet retailers (as determined by Internet Retailer Magazine) and examines how well they are utilizing search engine optimization and search engine marketing tactics. While the number of sites being properly optimized continues to increase, the pace is slow. That means there's still plenty of space for more players to excel in the search realm.

Well optimized sites were those that not only worked to target appropriate keywords through on-page factors but also that worked on building appropriate links and marketed through paid search campaigns. Moderately optimized sites were defined s sites that included unique page titles and meta tags, but that showed little attempt at targeting keywords in the site's content or through other SEO tactics. The sites that were considered nominally optimized did nothing more than add meta keyword and meta description tags to pages of the site. Non optimized sites were defined as those with no search engine marketing tactics visible at all.

The study points out the fallacy of big name companies relying on their branding to pull them through in terms of online marketing, a common theme among large businesses. For example, while Nike pulls in strong branded rankings, it does not even appear in the top 1000 listings on Google for the term "tennis shoes." That's a huge missed opportunity for the popular shoe retailer.

A common theme among well optimized sites? Content that went beyond traditional web pages. Well optimized sites were more likely to have blogs, to include podcasts and to make use of video files. Well optimized sites also feature more incoming links than lesser optimized sites, though the report gives many examples of well linked sites that are poorly optimized.

Overall, the study does a good job of laying out the stumbling blocks for many big businesses in terms of online search presence. This lack of optimization from larger companies leaves a nice gap for small to midsize businesses that put the time and effort toward proper optimization. After all, branded keywords only get a company so far. Small and midsize companies that properly target keyword phrases through the keyword buying cycle have a strong chance to compete on a near level playing field in the search results.

The full study is available for download at the Oneupweb site.

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Search Engine Guide > Jennifer Laycock > 27% of the Top 100 Internet Retailers Still Missing the Boat on SEM

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.