Websites in north-east fail to make presence felt


11 May 2006

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A survey of more than 300 business websites based in the north-east border counties has uncovered a lack of awareness on how to use an online presence to boost sales. In addition, more than half of the sites don’t have enough content to be ranked as “substantial” by Google.

According to the Dublin-based consultancy PraxisNow some of the sites surveyed had a basic hit counter and others had some server-based access tracking. However, few companies had any meaningful statistics collection on their sites so that even if they had a lot of visitor traffic they would not necessarily know about it.

The survey also found that less than 10pc had a “Google Page Rank” of five out of 10 or higher; no site scored higher than 7. The search engine ranks pages according to “importance” and is one of several measures it uses to determine placement when search results are presented. More than 60pc of the websites had less than the required amount of content for Google to deem them “substantial”. According to PraxisNow this means that many sites are effectively are being penalised for having insubstantial content.

Almost 70pc of the sites surveyed did not have pages optimised for listed keywords so that a Google search on a particular term would be very unlikely to list these pages in its search returns. More than four out of five of the sites had fewer than five Google-recognised, non-directory inbound links. PraxisNow claimed that businesses in the north-east were missing an opportunity for Google placement as a result. When competing with other sites for placement against important keyword searches the north-east site would lose out, the company said.

Fewer than 5pc of the sites had an Alexa score of better than 500,000. Alexa provides a measure of the internet reach of a website based on traffic. A score of 500,000 is estimated to reflect a rolling average in the region of only 10 visitors per day.

Less than one in 10 of the sites polled for the report had an opt-in facility on the home page that would let interested users sign up to receive more information or a follow-up sales call. Other areas the survey highlighted included the use of up-to-date content; employing brand new technologies such as RSS or ensuring that external links and email information are spelled correctly on referring websites.

John Coburn, a partner in PraxisNow, commented: “Whilst many of the websites were beautiful to look at and creative in their designs only a single handful demonstrated any understanding of what is required to increase their visibility on the internet.”

PraxisNow is running a seminar on effective internet marketing at the Park Inn hotel in Dundalk. More information, as well as an online booking facility, can be seen at www.praxisnow.ie/seminars.html.

By Gordon Smith