But a new study suggests that most of the top 100 e-tailers still don't quite get search engine optimization (SEO), and their failings leave room for other players to gain market attention.According to a study by Oneupweb (which is, admittedly, in the search engine marketing business), only 20 of the top sites were considered "well-optimized" while another 20 qualified as "moderately optimized." On hte other hand, 34 were "nominally-optimized," and 27 showed "no signs of optimization."
Those results are better than revealed in similar studies in 2004 and 2005, but not that much better. But Oneupweb changed the rules slighty by modifying its SEO criteria to go beyond keywords, titles and meta tags, and by checking for paid search engine marketing (SEM) as well.
According to the study: "Well-optimized sites not only compete, but often outrank and outperform less optimized competitors with more brick-and-mortar store support, larger marketing budgets, and a significantly higher number of links."
Non-optimized sites that perform well on search engines are relying heavily on the popularity of their brands (and brand-specific searches) and may be using offline marketing, paid search campaigns, and affiliate linking.
Another key difference is the emerging importance of Web 2.0 techniques such as blogging, podcasting, social networking, RSS, affiliate marketing, and rich media in affecting SEO. Taken together, these changes open up new opportunities for small and midsize companies:
Smaller retailers should be extremely encouraged by the opportunities illustrated in this study. Companies who have established reputations built through decades of marketing and branding efforts, should be equally encouraged. They can button down and build market share by using SEO to leverï¿¼age their long-earned level of popularity.