Recent research has indicated that the majority of small businesses in the UK, using Google AdWords, are failing to see any significant returns on their investments.

The research was conducted by popular polling site YouGov, and revealed that only 18 per cent of the respondents were satisfied with the results AdWords was providing.

Of the 500 SME owners that were polled in the September 2011 survey, 82 per cent said they had failed to recoup their initial outlay or, perhaps more worryingly, were unsure of the returns it had provided them with.

This shows a lack of knowledge that many SMEs still have with regards to harnessing the potential of online advertising media. It is clear to most that having an online presence is necessary today but, shows an alarming lack of tools and expertise to measure how their web development strategies are performing.

With the online marketplace offering such a great deal of potential for smaller companies up against established and household names, it is a shame such a problem exists.

Google themselves seem to have recognised the problem, launching AdWords Express in the summer of 2011. However, many companies have not moved on to this platform. An easier interface to use, it provides clearer explanations of how PPC (Pay-per-Click) advertising could be used effectively.

More and more B2B and B2C transactions and, critically, first engagement, with customers are being made online now. As such, it is essential that small companies in particular look to exploit the opportunities available.