SEO Misconceptions Lead Small Businesses To Pull Back Investments

Some 55% of small businesses plan to invest in search engine optimization SEO this year -- up from 52% last year. But when it came to investments in 2017, marketers fell short in their intentions.

Not all marketers and owners of small businesses are convinced that SEO is a relevant investment because they either don't have a website or are referral-based, according to Clutch’s 4th Annual Small Business Survey of 351 small business owners and managers. Even without a website, a small business can benefit from local SEO, such as optimizing their Google My Business profiles and local directory listings.

Small businesses -- at 38% -- tend to rely on in-house teams and SEO software more than external resources. It’s not clear whether that is the reason behind findings in which some revealed that they failed to reach expectations set for 2017.

Grayson Kemper, content developer and marketer at Clutch, wrote in an email that last year’s small business SEO survey revealed that 74% of companies surveyed said they expected to participate in SEO by the end of 2017, but only 55% did.

Budget associated with SEO is definitely a significant factor. “While social media marketing and some content marketing can be done in-house at little cost, we think that small businesses may not realize the resources, and the corresponding cost, a comprehensive SEO program entails,” Kemper wrote.

Typically there is a formula for measuring SEO and paid-search campaigns, but small businesses seem to have their own strategy.

The survey found that 21% track the number and quality of links back to their site to determine SEO success, followed by website traffic at 19%, leads and conversions at 19%, keyword ranking at 18%, and on-site engagement at 13%.

The study suggests that marketers or owners of small businesses concerned with branding often track keyword rankings to determine the level of exposure through SEO. Businesses concerned with return on investment (ROI) will track leads and conversions resulting from SEO investment.

It’s no surprise that small businesses invest more in social marketing to boost search rankings, but of the 56% that invest in social, 46% also invest in local SEO and 37% invest in on-site optimization. About 32% also invest in creating content to earn links, 30% in reputation management, and 26% in guest blogging.

Approximately 65% spend 30% or less of their marketing budget on paid campaigns, while 45% acknowledge running paid-search ad campaigns. About 37% said they run paid-search campaigns as needed, and 36% run the ads regularly.

Nearly 90% of small businesses that invest in paid-search ad campaigns also invest in SEO.


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