Thousands of small business owners are missing out on significant business opportunities from organic search engine traffic because they don’t believe it to be significant or important. Why is this the case?
For more than a decade, thousands of businesses have enjoyed the benefits of high rankings in Google searches (and searches on competing engines) thanks to their SEO efforts. Larger corporations pour hundreds of thousands of dollars and allocate entire departments to gaining more online visibility, but even small- to mid-sized businesses can use a fraction of that budget to get more traffic and sales.
However, according to a recent survey by the Small Business Authority(SBA), less than 50 percent of small business owners in the United States think of inbound traffic from search engines as an “important” source of future business. Another 14 percent declared themselves unsure.
It’s also worth noting that only 17 percent of surveyed small business owners are actively investing in SEO. However, a startling 39 percent of business owners aren’t investing in any marketing strategies whatsoever, indicating that SEO alone may not be the problem.
Studies, meanwhile, show that SEO yields significant ROI. According to Leverable.com, one study found that 72% of business owners with an SEO strategy felt it improved their bottom line. Another found that SEO leads have a 14.6% conversion rate, compared to 1.7% for outbound marketing, and are 61% less expensive to acquire, on average, than outbound leads.
Still, thousands of small business owners are missing out on significant business opportunities from organic search engine traffic because they don’t believe it to be significant or important. Why is this the case?
Misconceptions and Preconceived Notions
SEO doesn’t enjoy an unblemished reputation. The early days of SEO were full of spammers and scammers, willing to pull sneaky tricks to force their way to top rankings. Unfortunately, this reputation of SEO being a black hat game still persists in many circles. If a company believes their involvement with SEO will in any way harm their reputation, I can’t blame them for wanting to avoid it—even if that belief is totally unfounded.
There are also a number of misconceptions about what it takes to execute an SEO campaign. Some small business owners believe that it’s only worthwhile if you have tens of thousands of dollars to invest, or that it’s not possible to achieve visibility unless you’ve been at it for years. As a result, some small business owners choose to avoid it entirely.
Lack of Time or Willingness to Learn
One of the biggest problems preventing small business owners from taking advantage of SEO is a simple lack of desire or time to learn about how to properly conduct an SEO campaign. The average small business entrepreneur is dealing with too many day-to-day and broad strategic issues to warrant exploration into a new, yet-unknown strategic approach. The perceived technical complexity of SEO makes it seem like you need years of experience to be effective—even if that isn’t the case. Still, even if you’re outsourcing the work to an agency, you need to have a decent understanding of what the strategy is and how it works if you’re going to properly monitor their progress and assess how good of a job they’re doing.
The volatility of search engine marketing compounds the issue. Every few months, there’s a new search engine update that seems to send the SEO community into a frenzy. Even if those updates don’t actually change the game that much (and they haven’t for several years), they can be intimidating to a newcomer, just like the ups and downs of the stock market could scare away a potential investor.