Nearly 80% of Small Businesses Are Confident They Understand SEO Best Practices, But the SEO Activities They Prioritize Say Otherwise, New Survey Finds

Only 36% of small businesses had an SEO strategy going into 2019, and nearly two-thirds were most likely to prioritize social media marketing, which does not have a proven direct impact on search rankings.

WASHINGTON, April 10, 2019 – Seventy-eight percent (78%) of small businesses with an SEO strategy claim they are confident in their understanding of SEO best practices, according to a new survey from The Manifest, a business news and how-to site.

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

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

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%) 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.

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%) 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%) for their SEO strategies, more than double the number that partner with an SEO agency (28%).

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.

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

In addition, 77% 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.

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

Access the full report here:

For questions about the survey, a comment on the findings, or an introduction to the industry experts included in the report, contact Grayson Kemper at

About The Manifest
The Manifest is a business news and how-to website that compiles and analyzes practical business wisdom for innovators, entrepreneurs, and small and mid-market businesses. Use The Manifest as an approachable tour guide through every stage of the buyer journey. With three main offerings — data-driven benchmarks, step-by-step guides, and agency shortlists — The Manifest strives to make your business goals a reality.

Grayson Kemper
(202) 470–0941