Seventy-eight percent of small businesses with an SEO strategy claim they are confident in their understanding of SEO best practices, according to a new survey from business news and how-to site The Manifest.

But despite this confidence, 63 percent of small businesses prioritize social media marketing over key SEO activities such as local search and on-site optimization—even though social media does not have a direct impact on search rankings.

Overall, only 36 percent of small businesses had an SEO strategy at the start of 2019, and 23 percent plan to create and implement an SEO strategy this year.

Small biz owners prioritizing social marketing over SEO—why that’s bad strategy

An SEO strategy sets up small businesses for long-term success, but it takes time, investment, and technical expertise to build and optimize website content to rank in search engines.

Less than half of small businesses focus on local search or on-site optimization

SEO activities such as local search and on-site optimization help small businesses engage potential customers and make it easier for search engines to understand their websites.

Fewer than half of small businesses (45 percent) say local search is a priority in their SEO strategy, despite its benefits of engaging local audiences and earning prime search rankings in a Google 3-Pack.

“If you are a small business that relies on local customers and clients, you need to create a local SEO strategy,” said Cory Hedgepeth, a senior digital marketing manager for Direct Online Marketing, a digital marketing company in Pittsburgh, in a news release.

Small biz owners prioritizing social marketing over SEO—why that’s bad strategy

Technical SEO services such as on-site optimization help search engines and online audiences browse and understand a small businesses’ website content. Forty percent (40 percent) of small businesses incorporate on-site optimization into their SEO strategies.

SEO agencies help small businesses realize and achieve SEO best practices

Small businesses mostly depend on in-house staff (54 percent) for their SEO strategies, more than double the number that partner with an SEO agency (28 percent).

In-house staff are effective resources for efforts such as social media marketing and content marketing but may lack the technical expertise needed to optimize their small business’ websites for SEO.

SEO agencies have expertise across various SEO disciplines. As a result, small businesses that hire an SEO company include more services in their SEO strategies compared to those that rely on in-house staff.

Small biz owners prioritizing social marketing over SEO—why that’s bad strategy

At least half focus on content marketing (56 percent), on-site optimization (54 percent), keyword research (54 percent), and local search optimization (50 percent) as part of their SEO strategies.

In addition, 77 percent of small businesses that hire an SEO company invest in PPC advertising. Using results from PPC campaigns, small businesses can learn and implement best practices for their SEO strategies.

Read the full report here.

The Manifest’s 2019 Small Business SEO Survey included 529 small businesses in the U.S.

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Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders.

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