Big Brands Score Badly for Online Visibility. But Do They Care?

Last Updated May 7, 2010 11:46 AM EDT

Just how important is search engine optimisation to your company?

Search marketing agency Epiphany Solutions has produced a ranking of just how well the top brands score when it comes to online recognition, and has concluded that some of the biggest UK B2B brands have very poor online visibility.

Epiphany Solutions created a 'BrandSearch' rating for B2B Superbrands, taking into account each company's website keywords and analysing their placement on both paid and organic search rankings.

Epiphany has also compiled a BrandSearch league table to rank the UK's top 50 Superbrands' online visibility - the lower the ranking, the harder Epiphany believes it is to find the brand online.

This is how the UK's top five (defined by the 2010 Business Superbrands Survey) fared:

  1. Microsoft: 8/50.
  2. Rolls-Royce Group: 24/50.
  3. BlackBerry: 29/50.
  4. Virgin Atlantic: 7/50.
  5. Google: 25/50.
What does it mean? Epiphany claims such poor visibility will have an impact on the brands' ability to attract customers.

"You don't naturally search the supplier, you search the service or the product you require," Shane Quigley, CEO at Epiphany said to NetImperative.

But is exposure on search engines even important to the biggest B2B Superbrands? "It depends on the brand," says Stephen Cheliotis, chairman of the UK Superbrand council. "We have to ask what [Epiphany's] terms were and who decided they were relevant, and then if the brand sees them as relevant."

"The fact that the Superbrands are so powerful increases the chance people will search for their brand instead of generic terms. That's the point of having a powerful brand," Cheliotis adds. Does he have a point? How likely is someone to search Google for Google anyway?

Consider Rolls-Royce, the UK's No. 2 B2B SuperBrand. It's highly unlikely search engine ranking is ever going to be a priority for the B2B arm of a company that produces aircraft engines for the defence, aerospace, marine and energy markets. Companies that are going to purchase an aircraft engine are hardly likely to be swayed by the first hit from a search engine, after all.

B2B online searching may not matter as much as B2C, either, although a social media presence (which was not a factor in Epiphany's research) is now increasingly a given whatever your customer base.

Arguably, challenger brands could capitalise on the low visibility of big competitors, but something tells me it's not an issue Microsoft will lose sleep over.

What about your company, though? Have any of you capitalised on the poor online presence of the B2B SuperBrands?

(Picture: nDevilTV, CC2.0)