Small Businesses In Conflict

I just reviewed the results of two different surveys of small businesses and the results demonstrate a conflict.  The first survey was done by American Express (AmEx) while the second survey we done by the Small Business Authority (SBA).


In the AmEx survey, they found that 72% of business owners are prioritizing growth for 2016.  This focus on growth seems to be a very stressful endeavor for business owners. 49% of these business owners said that generating ideas to grow their business “keeps them up at night”.


This survey we interesting because it appears to show a reluctance among small business owners to do one of the most necessary marketing functions needed to grow a business, SEO.

This survey showed 45% of small business owners feel search traffic is an unimportant source for new business.  What’s worse is that this is down 5 percentage points from last year.

On the surface, you might come to the conclusion that SEO doesn’t work.  However, when you look at this within the context of search reality (how the consumer is using it), the idea of search marketing not working simply doesn’t stand up.

Search Reality

There are more statistics about the value of search traffic for small businesses than we have room for in this post, but here are some quick ones:

  • 61% of global Internet users research products online. ( Interconnected World: Shopping and Personal Finance)
  •  Search engine marketing is the rated the most-effective paid vehicle for content marketing. ( The Content Marketing Institute)
  • 48% of mobile local searches called a store. ( The Google Mobile Playbook)
  • 70 percent of U.S. households now use the Internet when shopping locally for products and services (The Kelsey Group; ConStat).
  • SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate

 It’s About Understanding

It seems that the reluctance on the part of these small business owners to invest effort into search marketing actually comes down to a misunderstanding or a lack of understanding on how search marketing works.  Combine that with the lack of time to learn, you end up with businesses that keep trying to do the same old marketing campaigns with less and less positive results, but can’t bring themselves to do what today’s consumer demands.