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Online Visibility, who are targeting antique dealers in particular, use complex research and databases to identify keywords and phrases that help bring Websites to the attention of their target audience.

Technology now allows certain software programmes to scan the entire content of a site to see how relevant it is to various fields of interest. Sites it assesses as the most relevant to any given field are the ones that come up at the top of the list when anyone browsing the Web on major search engines taps in the relevant key words in search of antiques. According to Online Visibility, who help Websites achieve prominence through these applications, this means that even businesses who are not well known on a global basis can achieve widespread exposure to their marketplace without having to pay to join a major antiques portal site.

What the technology can also do is to weed out sites that are guilty of ‘spamming’ – those that are not necessarily relevant but flood their content with key words in an attempt to make it to the top of the list on search engines.

John Bethell, who runs Online Visibility, and who is a founder member and board member of the World Association of Internet Marketeers, believes that firms who want to market themselves through mastering search engine technology should expect to set aside about a third of their current marketing budget to capitalise on its potential properly.

“It’s particularly good for specialists as it enables them to target buyers in their field and expand their client base much more accurately,” he said. “This is not necessarily about selling online, it’s about building contacts and links for selling in the traditional way.”