Most top UK companies are spurning search engine optimisation and pay-per-click opportunities on the web, with the result that their brands do not feature prominently on popular search sites such as Google.
More than three-quarters of companies listed in the FTSE 100 fail to appear in Google's top 10 search listings, according to research by search engine marketing specialist mSearch.
The study found that leading UK telecoms and mobile firms struggled to appear anywhere in the top three pages of Google searches.
Banking and financial institutions also fared badly, with many well-known high-street brands in the FTSE 100 absent from Google's top 10 banking and investment listings.
According to mSearch, tobacco firms - banned from most forms of advertising in the UK - and pharmaceutical companies were better at taking advantage of search engine marketing opportunities.
The mSearch study used the keyword most generic to each business listed in the UK FTSE 100 index, and entered it into the Google UK search engine to see if it appeared in the top 30 rankings.
Brand names were not used in the survey, which aimed to discover which companies had the best web optimisation strategy.
Richard Collins, mSearch chief executive officer, said, "The report isn't rocket science, but its results are very telling of how the UK's top 100 companies are failing to employ effective search engine marketing techniques."
The Interactive Advertising Bureau estimates the web search marketing market will be worth £835m by 2009.