To be found, you have to be seen. And in a world that is increasingly virtual and/or mobile-first, that means being seen online. Yet many small businesses seemed to have missed the memo.
In a survey of 500 small business marketers, search marketing firm HigherVisibility found many aren’t even covering the basics when it comes to search marketing. More than half (54%) don’t budget for SEO, a significant portion of those that do are using outdated tactics, and a surprising amount don’t have Web sites or a social media presence.
“Many small business marketers don’t understand the value of investing in their Web presence and SEO, or they have false information that is driving their strategy in the wrong direction,” according to the report. Many don’t even know they actually have to adopt a strategy in the first place: 29% of those surveyed felt a Web site should start ranking in Google once it’s published, with little effort made toward keyword buying or other strategies.
Here’s one simple example: Despite continually changing search algorithms looking to reward quality content over simple keyword matching, more than a third (38%) of SMB marketers believe keyword stuffing (repeatedly using the same keyword on a page) is a good way to build page ranks.
Elsewhere, the survey showed about a quarter of small business marketers were unfamiliar with SEO strategies. Around 10% of those surveyed even went so far as to say some of those strategies — such as link building, on-site optimization, blogging and content creation — were not important to SEO.
But perhaps what’s most surprising is how many of these small businesses don’t have a Web presence. Among those surveyed by HigherVisibility, about 20% said they don’t have a Web site; a similar percentage said they had no social media presence “at all.” (Lest you think that finding is an outlier, Clutch found similar results in recent small-business surveys about Web sites and social media.)
There may be reasons for not having a Web site, social media presence or an SEO strategy. In Clutch’s survey, 23% of those without Web sites said they didn’t have one because of a “lack of industry relevance.” But here’s the thing: Those that do are happier with their Google rankings.
According to HigherVisibility’s survey, only about a third of those non-social media users are happy with their Google rankings. Satisfaction is similarly lower among those who publish content less frequently and those that haven’t updated their sites in the past two years.
“Small businesses who make SEO a priority have an opportunity to get ahead of the curve and stand out from their competitors who are failing to see the potential in investing in SEO,” wrote the report’s authors. “Starting an SEO strategy may allow small businesses to capitalize on search, move ahead of the competition, and connect with customers where others are failing to make an impression.”
Small businesses, the ball is in your court. What say you?