A new study finds that real estate companies are not using search engine optimization (SEO), causing them to miss out on a cost effective way to gather leads during a tough housing market.

The report from PCMS Consulting found that while real estate companies recognize the need to have an online presence, most are doing little to nothing to move traditional marketing techniques to more modern online marketing like SEO.

According to the study, no one company has cornered the market on keywords with "real estate" being the most searched for term. This means there is plenty of opportunity for small and large businesses to take advantage of the underutilized online marketing.

"As the industry continues to transform in 2009 and beyond, SEO is an area that deserves more attention," said Randi Thornton of PCMS Consulting.

Many industry forecasts expect online marketing, like SEO, to increase in 2009 while traditional marketing continues to decrease in light of the recent economic downturn.

Adding even more reason for companies to invest in online marking, a recent study from JP Morgan predicts that search engine queries will increase by 24 percent in the new year.