Small businesses, particularly those in a niche market could benefit from a good search engine optimisation (SEO) package according to one expert.

A spokeswoman for the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) said yesterday that for small and medium sized enterprises and businesses (SMEs) it was becoming increasingly important to ensure that they are optimised in search rankings.

Amy Kean, marketing manager for the IAB, advised that although all advertising was important, the tendency for consumers to go straight to a search engine rather than attempt to remember company names made paid-for search and online marketing strategies essential.

She added that online advertising was currently being neglected by SMEs and that more advantage should be taken of current technology which allows for customers to be targeted faster, ensuring that only those who fit the company demographic are viewing the marketing campaigns.

Further to this, Ms Kean said that SMEs who outsourced their website design and optimisation projects could avoid further expense later on and that investing in a company who provide a sound knowledge of website usability and accessibility was advisable.

Although websites can be maintained in-house at a low cost, she explained, significant initial investment can be the best way to ensure that changes that need to be made to a company website, due to poor user experience or bad feedback, can be made quickly and easily.

Last week a report from DM News revealed that pay per click (PPC) marketing was becoming and increasingly popular way that larger companies handle their online strategies. A report issued by the website said that initially PPC had proved more popular with small businesses but that bigger firms had begun to realise its value.

The report looked at how some companies are setting aside parts of their annual budget specifically for online marketing and SEO and said that research from Jefferies & Co estimated that by 2010 search engine marketing would represent half of all advertising money spent online.

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