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. However, this survey included respondents from large firms (less than 500 employees).

A majority of DIY SEO. Most SMEs reported that they relied on internal SEO efforts (54%), although a substantial minority (42%) used SEO consultants and freelancers . 28% reported using a company or SEO agency. And 50% said they use software and SEO tools. I suppose there is overlap between those who use an "SEO agency" and "SEO consultants".

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

The SEO tactics most used by SMEs. The survey asked SMEs who are currently doing SEO: "What SEO 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 SEO, these SMEs said "search traffic", followed by "leads and conversions", while only 4% said they did not follow their efforts:

Web traffic generated by search engines: 25% Leads and conversions: 19% Number and quality of backlinks: 14% Keyword ranking: 13% Impressions: 13% On-site engagement: 12% I do not do the job tracking metrics for SEO: 4%

Frequency of advertising PPC. The survey also surveyed advertisers on budgets and frequency of PPC ads. The largest group (33%) spent between 10% and 30% of marketing budgets on PPC ads. The next group (24%) spent between 31 and 50%. The majority (82%) said they practiced CPAP "consistently" (45%) or "every month" (37%).

Why we should care. The survey shows that although a minority of respondents in SMEs are actively engaged in SEO, a significant additional percentage acknowledges that they should do so. This is an opportunity for third party marketing service providers and agencies serving SMEs. But SEO does not usually yield immediate results, which often makes it difficult to prove and perceive for SMEs that tend to be impatient and want 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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