A new study from Microsoft finds that almost 60 percent of small businesses with websites don’t use any form of paid search marketing, with 9 out of 10 saying they never even tried it.

The survey reveals that most small businesses are intimidated by what they believe to be expensive and complex search marketing techniques. Almost 90 percent of respondents feared that keywords were too expensive, with another 25 percent believing it was too complex.

But Brian Boland, director of adCenter at Microsoft Advertising says those beliefs are counter to what the industry has established – that search marketing is one of the most cost-effective and easy-to-use forms of marketing.

"By investing in paid search marketing, small businesses can track online sales and determine the return on investment for their campaigns, while at the same time boosting traffic and visibility for their websites, said Boland.

What’s more is companies who have used search marketing have been happy with the results.

Microsoft’s survey found that 72 percent of companies using paid search marketing saw an increase in sales inquiries and 68 percent deemed the technique successful.

But these numbers may be changing with a recent study from Ad-ology forecasting that 69 percent of all small businesses will spend as much or more on online marketing in 2009.

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.