Over 40 per cent of businesses do not employ any form of search engine marketing to help improve their ranking on sites such as Google, it has been claimed.

Research from web hosting firm Fasthosts, reported by PC Advisor, found one in four were put off by the cost of the service, while 11 per cent had been dissuaded by previous attempts that had failed.

Marketing director at Fasthosts Steve Holford stated that many small companies could find the fight for online visibility a highly stressful experience.

However, he said: "Every business owner should know that there are now low-cost, point-and-click solutions for both improving search engine positions and understanding how their website is being used."

The research also revealed that only 23 per cent of firms have used social media to engage with customers, despite it being recently claimed by Search Engine Watch's Craig MacDonald that 2011 would see major growth in online marketing services using Facebook.

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