The majority of surveyed SMEs understand that they should do SEO, but only 36% have an SEO strategy in place and are actively pursuing it. According to a survey of 529 small businesses, between 1 and 50 employees or more, conducted by The Manifest.

Beyond the 36%, the survey found that 23% of companies planned to embark on SEO in 2019 and 15% said they had plans to do so in "2020 or later". That these good intentions translate into action is another problem. A survey conducted in 2018 by the same company revealed that 44% of companies spent time or money on SEO. This figure was higher than the 36% of the current survey. However, the first group included respondents from large firms (up to 500 employees).

A majority of DIY SEO. Most SMEs rely on internal SEO efforts (54%), although a substantial minority (42%) have used SEO consultants and freelancers. 28% reported using a company or SEO agency. And 50% said they use software and SEO tools. There was some overlap in the categories; I guess those who use an "SEO agency" and "SEO consultants"

Almost 80% of these SMEs were "confident" or "very confident" in their self-assessed understanding of best practices SEO. However, the fact that the most popular SEO tactic is "social media marketing" casts doubt on this conclusion.

The SEO tactics of leading SEO companies. The survey asked SMEs looking for SEO: "What activities does your company currently invest in?" Falsely, "social media marketing" was on the list of tactics and scored the highest (63%). More than half of the SMEs said that a website and a mobile-based keyword search engine were one of the best SEO tactics:

Mobile Website: 54% Word Search Key / Target: 51% High Quality Content Creation: 48% Local Search Optimization: 45% Onsite Optimization: 40% PPC Advertising: 35% Link Building: 28% Optimizing Voice Search: 21%

It is interesting and somewhat surprising to find that 21% said they were optimizing voice search. we do not really know what it means for these companies.

Methods of monitoring the success of referencing. When asked how they followed the success of their SEO, these SMEs said "search traffic" followed by "leads and conversions", and only 4% said they did not follow their efforts.

Search engine web traffic: 25% Leads and conversions: 19% Number and quality of backlinks: 14% Keyword ranking: 13% Impressions: 13% On-site engagement: 12% I do not track metrics for SEO: 4%

Frequency of advertising for sponsored links. . The survey also focused on the budgets and frequency of PPC advertisements. The largest group (33%) spent between 10% and 30% of their marketing budget on PPC ads. The next group (24%) spent between 31 and 50%. Of those who practice CPP, 82% said they do so "consistently" (45%) or "every month" (37%).

Why we should care. The survey shows that although only a minority of respondents in SMEs are actively involved in SEO, a significant additional percentage acknowledges that they should do so. This is an opportunity for third party suppliers serving SMEs. But SEO does not usually yield immediate results, making its value difficult to perceive for some SMEs who often want to see immediate results.

About the Author

Greg Sterling is a collaborative editor at Search Engine Land. He researches and writes on the links between digital commerce and offline commerce. He is also Vice President of Strategy and Knowledge for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him on Google +.

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