GOOGLE are today crowning Stratford-upon-Avon the top e-town in the UK, but it appears the victory is partly thanks to the Olympics and a common confusion with names.
Beating capital cities like Edinburgh and Belfast to the top spot, Stratford has been named the place in the UK with the strongest online economy.
However, the 127 per cent increase in Google searches for Stratford last year is largely down to the 2012 Olympics, held 100 miles away in Stratford, London.
Google say though, that tech savvy business owners in Stratford-upon-Avon took advantage of this extra traffic coming their way.
At the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Swan Theatre today, Google are handing over a trophy to Stratford’s MP, Nadhim Zahawi.
The MP said: “I’m extremely proud that Stratford has won this Google e-Town Award. As a digital entrepreneur myself I am delighted to represent an area that is embracing the internet to help local businesses flourish.
“As the world becomes ever more connected it’s clear that the Internet will play a key role in Stratford’s economic growth both for digital and traditional businesses.”
AdWords is Google’s online advertising system which enables businesses of all sizes to advertise relevant text ads next to Google search results. With 127 per cent more people looking up Stratford in 2012 than the year before, these adverts were much more likley to be clicked on.
To calculate who were the top e-towns in the UK, Google worked out the penetration levels of AdWords.
Despite the happy coincidence of sharing names with the biggest event in the UK for years, the adverts for businesses in Stratford-upon-Avon were still performing above average.
According to Google, Stratford is undoubtedly embracing the web and using the internet to spur on business in the area.
James and Alexandra Savin rely almost entirely on their website to get bookings for their Upper Quinton B&B, Winton House.
James said: “When we started running Winton House four years ago one of our key priorities was to set up an effective online presence.”
They have particularly benefitted from the rise of mobile advertising, nabbing last minute bookings from tourists in Stratford searching online for somewhere to stay.
“We redesigned the website twice and started using AdWords to drive traffic to it. Now around 80 per cent of our marketing budget is spent through AdWords and it is the cornerstone of our marketing strategy. I would recommend having a strong online presence to anybody, as it has been key to our success.”
Between 1-3pm today, some of the town’s businesses will be joining Google and Mr Zahawi in the Ashcroft Room of the Swan Theatre in Stratford for the award ceremony.
Dan Cobley, Managing Director at Google UK, said: “These eTown awards are designed to recognise and reward those areas leading the way forward in e-commerce, and Stratford should be extremely proud to be the UK’s top e-commerce town.”
The top 12 Google eTown award winners in the UK are:
1. Stratford-upon-Avon, West Midlands
2. Edinburgh, Scotland
3. Richmond, London
4. Stansted, East of England
5. Towcester, East Midlands
6. Bournemouth, South West
7. East Marlow, South East
8. Blackpool, North West
9. Harrogate, Yorkshire & Humberside
10. Blaydon-on-Tyne, North East
11. Newtown, Wales
12. Belfast, Northern Ireland
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