Online searchers often led away from corporate sites

Hitwise calls on top firms to better optimize sites for users seeking data on their brands

"Action taken by brands to protect their brands reaps rewards," Hopkins added. "For example, we found that steps taken to tighten the reins on travel agencies to prevent agencies and resellers from capitalizing on the airlines' brands appear to be working. Traffic from searches for a portfolio of the top American Airlines brand terms three years ago made up nearly 4 percent of visits to travel agencies. That is down to less than 1 percent for the four weeks ending September 27th, 2008."

Analysts also advise companies to monitor the comments about their companies and brands on social media sites and the blogosphere because these comments could potentially appear high up in search engine results, catching corporations unaware.

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