Expert Insight: How Small Businesses Are Making the Most of SEO

small business, marketingClutch recently surveyed 351 small businesses to gain insight into how they invest in SEO and what types of benefits they are reaping as a result.

Based on the statistics, 55 percent of respondents now turn to SEO, which is a 3 percent increase from last year – but will this percentage continue to rise? Furthermore, how are small businesses executing SEO initiatives in hope of generating ROI?

For a deeper look at the data, we spoke to Grayson Kemper, Senior Content Developer at Clutch.

There was a 3 percent increase over last year in the amount of small businesses that invest in SEO do you see this increasing as the year goes on? Why or why not?

“That’s really tough to say. SEO is a long-term investment, in that it takes [awhile] for results to materialize. Once businesses recognize the results from their efforts, they are much more likely to continue to invest in SEO. I think as search continuously becomes a greater part of the sales conversion process, more businesses will recognize the value of SEO and invest. That process, though, is not going to fully play out over the course of the next 9 months.”

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What are some of the benefits your particular business has seen through integrating SEO into your strategy? How has your approach to SEO evolved over time?

“Our target audiences are buyers and vendors of B2B marketing and tech services. Buyers are now increasingly beginning their buying journey through search, thus to engage this group, we have to appear in the results pages for the terms they are likely to search. Our SEO efforts are crucial for allowing us to appear for those queries.”

About 65 percent of small businesses only devote 30 percent or less of their marketing budget to paid campaigns  why do you think this is the case? Do you see this changing in the future?

“There are a number of factors that contribute to this statistic I think. One primary factor is the overall marketing goals of an organization. If your business is primarily concerned with branding, you are going to format your budgeting to support branding. While paid search can serve in this capacity, so can a host of other marketing activities, like logo and web design. So, your business will need to leave a decent amount of room in the budget to direct toward these activities. Another reason could be the short-term impact of paid search. For every dollar of your marketing budget you direct to paid search, it’s one dollar less you get to direct to other, long-term marketing efforts, like SEO.

Overall, I think there will be more movement toward paid search over time. Google makes their money through paid ads, and their organic search function is a means to that end. Also, it’s also becoming harder to start from scratch and organically grow your site through purely SEO. Paid search provides help in this arena, which I believe more firms will recognize and act on over time.”

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Most respondents (38 percent) said that they turn to their in-house teams and SEO software more than external resources for help with SEO. Do you see this percentage changing at all? Could businesses benefit from seeking external expertise??

“The answer to your second question is most certainly yes. Bringing on an expert SEO company can provide enormous benefit given the wealth of knowledge that experts bring to the table. Of course, that assumes that you choose the right provider for your firm.

Whether or not that number will change is really tough to say. The more everything trends online, I would say chances are more firms bring on SEO companies or experts. However, that might be one where we will just have to wait and see.”

What was the most interesting statistic to you in the report?

“The most interesting statistic to me is that while small businesses don’t identify link-building efforts (content marketing, guest blogging) as the most common SEO service they invest in, they do measure links as the primary determinant of SEO success. Basically this means that small businesses place a great deal of value on high-quality endorsements from other sites, but aren’t always willing to invest the resources in SEO services that lead to those results.”

Click here to view the full results of the Clutch survey!

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Grayson Kemper is a Senior Content Developer at Clutch, a B2B research and reviews firm based in Washington, DC. He specializes in SEO research.

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