SME websites in Europe are not very good, and we have the research to prove it

The 2018 Siinda Landscape study looked at over 400,000 European SMEs across eight countries and 40,000,000 data points to try to identify areas where SMEs could improve their online presence. This post focuses on only three points that highlight SME’s lack of involvement with their websites: Use of Analytical Tools, Frequency of Updating, and Mobile Optimisation.

60% of websites across Europe do NOT have an analytics tool to understand visitor behaviour on their site.

A basic Marketing course will tell you to understand your customers and what motivates and interests them, but this seems to be lost on many SMEs. After investing money in building a website, it only makes sense to determine if there is an ROI associated with it in terms of visitors and conversions. A business owner might say, “it doesn’t work for me,” but how do they know?

Even the most basic information such as where site visitors come from, what words they searched for, and what pages they view, is all lost without analytics. Businesses are missing an opportunity to find ways to engage and capture new customers. Particularly surprising is how low Germany scores on this metric.

Figure 1:  Percent of websites with Analytics

71% of websites have not been updated within the previous 60 days, and 46% of them have not been updated in over a year.

Websites are an extension of a physical location and are often the first and most frequent touch points for a brand. Up-to-date information is important to consumers and it is hard to imagine that a business cannot say something new at least once a month. Simple examples a company could do are highlighting promotions, new products, opening hours, completed jobs, and testimonials.

Not updating indicates that many businesses are not fully engaging with their website as a “living” marketing tool.  Why they are not thoroughly engaging is more challenging to determine. It could be that they do not have the time or training to make the changes, or the person building the site did not explain the importance of updates.

A lack of fresh content can be a handicap when trying to improve organic ranking on search engines. “Active” websites with frequently refreshed and relevant content generally rank better on search engines.

Figure 2:  Frequency of updating website

More than 37% of websites analysed are NOT optimised for mobile phones or tablets.

Despite a barrage of coverage about the increased number of searches on mobile phones and Google’s statements about using mobile optimisation as a significant ranking factor – some businesses still have not got the message. Going back as far as a research study in 2012, Think with Google highlighted that 50% said that even if they liked a business, customers would use them less often if the site was not mobile optimised.

Our data shows that Switzerland and Ireland have got the message, with 74% of the sites in each country being mobile optimised. However, Czechia and Slovakia are both considerably behind and drag down the overall European average.

Figure 3: Percent of websites that are mobile optimised

In Czechia and Slovakia we found that only 21% and 30% of the websites were built with a known CMS/Website builder versus a European average of 42%.  Therefore, it is possible that many sites were built using older, non-responsive technology.


What emerges from just these three data points is that many businesses are not even managing the basics of their online presence.  It seems as if they believe building the website is enough, but in a world that relies heavily on accessibility on a variety of devices and not just computers, this mindset has become obsolete.

A big problem is, without Analytics, businesses do not know how many customers they are generating from their site and, more importantly, how many customers they are losing.

Many studies have cited that business owners lack the time and the skill to manage their online presence. This knowledge is a real opportunity for digital agencies to not just build an online presence but to also build a plan that actively engages the business with their online presence. Utilising service calls to add content such as images or testimonials would be a simple way to start. Google Analytics and other tools can also broaden the discussion on what actions can help a business leverage their online presence.

Many business owners use Facebook in their private lives and are aware of the ease of updating via desktop or app.  They are, therefore, more comfortable with the basics of posting business information, and there is also the immediate feedback of “Likes,” “Shares,” and “Comment.” The same is not often true for websites that are seen as more complicated to update and manage. Creating a process – either DIY or a DIWM – for the customer and educating them on the importance of these actions is even more critical for any digital agency to retain customers.

While almost every business owner knows they need a website, there is a great deal of education needed so business owners can learn how their online decisions can help or hurt their business.

This blog post highlights key findings from the 2018 Siinda Landscape study, which analysed over 400,000 European SMEs and looked at almost 40,000,000 data points across eight countries to provide insight into the quality of their online presence. The study used Silktide’s proprietary technology to look at the critical areas of Website build quality, Search Engine Optimisation, and Social Media presence.

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