However, new survey data says small businesses will dedicate more resources in 2016 to improving their online presence.
WASHINGTON, — Half of small businesses in the US that have a company website do not engage in search engine optimization (SEO), according to a new survey conducted by Clutch, a leading B2B research firm. Minimal SEO engagement significantly lowers a small business’ odds of being found online by potential customers and subsequently makes it more difficult for that business to meet growth goals.
“Having a website but not doing SEO is like getting into the passenger seat of a car that’s being driven by a robot,” said Duane Forrester, Vice President of Organic Search Operations for Bruce Clay Inc. “Chances are, it’s going to end well, but there’s also a chance that the trip won’t work out the way you planned.”
A lack of knowledge about how to implement an effective SEO strategy and cost are the main drivers of low engagement, according to industry leaders who reviewed the survey findings. But, small businesses that forgo SEO may find themselves at a disadvantage, unable to control their visibility in search engine rankings.
The survey found that this low or nonexistent SEO engagement in the small business market may shift dramatically in a few years. 60% of small businesses plan to implement an SEO strategy by 2017 or later.
Of the small businesses that currently do SEO, 57% focus on onsite optimization and local search optimization. About 25% say they create content or guest blog on other websites.
Creating quality content that earns links is an SEO strategy that should be used more, according to industry leaders.
“Content is a means of educating customers so that they feel something for the company. Then later on, if the potential customer needs something, they will go to the company that built their trust in the first place by providing useful resources,” said Garrett Mehrguth, President and CEO of Directive Consulting.
Industry leaders also highlighted three pieces of advice for small businesses in the initial stages of planning an SEO strategy:
- Educate yourself about basic SEO concepts and tactics
- Work with a reliable, trustworthy SEO agency
- Budget enough resources to sustain a long-term strategy
Clutch’s small business digital marketing survey included 352 owners and managers of small businesses in the US. The majority of survey respondents are businesses with 1-10 employees and less than $1 million in annual revenue, which matches the makeup of the 2013 US Census Bureau data on small businesses.
The study also measured the metrics used to track SEO effectiveness, the resources used to implement and maintain SEO efforts, and the quantity of businesses that do paid online advertising.
The full results can be found at https://clutch.co/seo-firms/resources/small-business-seo-paid-online-advertising-2016