Study: 78% of SMBs Confident in SEO Best Practice Knowledge

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Due to a number of factors, it’s been long perceived that SMBs have struggled with executing digital marketing strategies. However, more recently, an increasing number of small businesses have delved deeper into their in-house digital marketing by investing more time and resources into these practices.

A recent study from The Manifest looked at the digital savviness of SMBs in the context of organic search optimization (SEO). The study examined over 500 SMB’s SEO strategies and priorities, specifically looking at how well they understand the value of SEO and what tactics they use to pursue it.

Only 36% of SMBs said they had an SEO strategy. Another 23% said they plan to execute SEO this year and another 15% are going to take it up in 2020 “or later.” This 38% of “SEO intenders,” combined with the 36%, reflect that most of SMBs surveyed realize the value of SEO – at least in the abstract. Execution is another matter.

According to the survey, 78% of SMBs with an SEO strategy are “confident” or “very confident” in their understanding of SEO best practices. Only 5% admitted to not being confident.

Among the 36% with an active SEO strategy, the number one tactic used is social media marketing (63%), which is not a ranking factor. The remaining tactics include mobile-friendly websites (54%), keyword research (51%), content marketing (48%), local search optimization (45%) and on-site optimization (40%).

Over half of the SMBs doing SEO (54%) indicated that they rely on in-house staff. This is consistent with several surveys we’ve reported on in the past, including one from Constant Contact which revealed that 95% of SMBs do some form of marketing themselves.

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Doing SEO in-house probably also means it’s not as complete or effective as if it were being handled by an agency. And all those investing in social media as an SEO tactic won’t see any ranking benefits from it.

Keeping digital marketing efforts in-house has become a preferred method for many SMBs, often because of cost but also because of distrust of third-party agencies or past-bad experiences. However, many small businesses lack the necessary knowledge and marketing expertise that are essential in generating positive, long-term growth.

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