Only half of small businesses invest in SEO—18% say they never will

While successful search engine optimization strategies offer lasting benefits, only half of small businesses in the U.S. (49 percent) invest in SEO, according to a new survey by business news and how-to site The Manifest.

Almost all buying experiences (93 percent) occur through search engines, which means ranking on the first page of search results is essential to gaining website traffic and clients.

Still, half of small businesses do not think investing in SEO is worth their time as they turn to other methods like paid advertising to gain new leads. While paid advertising can provide immediate results, it is expensive and only offers a short-term solution.

Small businesses should invest in an SEO strategy because, although it can take months to see results, it will eventually provide stable traffic and brand visibility for the business.

Less than 10 percent of small businesses believe backlinks to their website are an important SEO metric

Small businesses track a variety of SEO metrics to improve their ranking, including web traffic from organic search, keyword rankings, and on-site engagement.

Only 9 percent track the number and quality of backlinks to their website, which can be a huge part of growing a company’s SEO presence online.

While website traffic obviously indicates potential customer interest, small businesses must also focus on increasing backlinks to their website through content creation. By creating valuable content on their website, small businesses have a better chance at being recognized by other sites and Google as an authoritative subject matter expert.

Social media marketing is the most popular SEO strategy for small businesses

Small businesses prefer investing in social media marketing to more direct SEO methods like keyword research and link building. Half of small businesses (50 percent) use social media marketing as part of their SEO strategy, while 44 percent dedicate time to keyword research.

Social media marketing can be a valuable tool to communicate with customers and offer customer support. Experts, however, still debate the direct connection between SEO results and social media presence.

In 2017, Gary Illyes, a webmasters trend analyst at Google, hinted at the correlation between social content and SERP rankings. “The context in which you engage online, and how people talk about you online, actually can impact what you rank for,” Illyes said.

As small businesses focus their SEO efforts on social media, they could see more SEO results from link building and content creation.

The Manifest’s 2021 Small Business SEO Survey included 500 small business employees who were familiar with their company’s SEO strategy.

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