New research from B2B ratings and reviews firm Clutch illustrates why small businesses should make SEO a focus of their business-building strategy, and reveals the top ways they determine their SEO success—they measure the quantity and quality of links back to their site (21 percent), followed by site traffic (19%), leads and conversions (19 percent), and keyword rankings (18 percent).

The research reveals that the metrics small businesses prefer depend on the stage in the conversion funnel where they engage target customers.

For example, small businesses concerned with branding track keyword rankings to determine the level of exposure they achieve through SEO. Businesses concerned with return on investment (ROI) track leads and conversions that result from SEO investment.

How small businesses benefit from SEO—and determine success

Small businesses benefit from SEO, with few exceptions

Overall, 55 percent of small businesses invest in SEO. This is a marginal 3-percent increase in the number of small businesses that invested in SEO in 2017. Last year, 74 percent said they expected to invest in SEO in 2017.

Not all small businesses are convinced that SEO is a relevant investment for their company. Some say they don’t need SEO because they either don’t have a website or are referral-based.

Experts, however, say nearly all small businesses can benefit from SEO.

“Every business is a viable candidate for SEO, unless they absolutely don’t require business from the public and they are a referral-based, discrete, or relationship-based business,” said Kevin Tash, CEO of Tack Media, a Los Angeles-based digital marketing agency, in a news release.

Even without a website, a small business can benefit from local search optimization services such as optimizing their Google My Business profiles and local directory listings.

How small businesses benefit from SEO—and determine success

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising often paired with SEO

Small businesses invest modestly in pay-per-click advertising (PPC), often in tandem with SEO.

Less than half of small businesses (45 percent) run PPC campaigns, and they do so as needed (37 percent) rather than regularly (36 percent).

Nearly 90% of small businesses that invest in PPC also engage in SEO. The finding supports that most small businesses perform some form of SEO and intend to continue investing in this effort.

The data from this report pulls from Clutch’s survey of 351 small business owners and managers, which explored how small businesses approach SEO and PPC advertising.

Read the full report here.

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