Small Business Owners Skip Web Optimization, New Study Finds

2017 Small Business Digital Trends Report Finds That Small Business Owners Skip Web Optimization

Could your business be among the many that are missing out on new customers by not optimizing their online and social media presence? The Small Business Digital Trends Report created in collaboration with an Innovation Fellow in the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard, Dr. David Ricketts, says that only 17 percent of small business owners are willing to invest in search engine optimization (SEO) in 2017.

“The number one reason why small business owners are online is to attract and engage with new customers, yet our report indicates small business owners may be having a hard time keeping up with the continually changing dynamic of the web,” the (NASDAQ:WEB) CEO David Brown said in a prepared release on the study.

2017 Small Business Digital Trends Report

Besides the small number of businesses that are willing to invest in SEO, the study also says that 85 percent of small businesses are hitting some kind of roadblock when attempting to use social media to promote their businesses. In other words, only 15 percent are effectively using social media to market their products.

“In 2017, it is no longer enough for small business owners to be online with just a web site. They need business-specific social media channels that engage customers, they need a search-engine-optimization (SEO) strategy that will get them on the top of search lists, and they need online marketing advice from real people who understand how to stay one step ahead of their competition and customer expectations,” Brown added.

The study also found out that 26 percent of businesses have single page websites and about 43 percent of the surveyed businesses have no plans to change or improve their online presence in 2017. The report surveyed 300 small business owners nationwide to discover how they are using online platforms to market their brands.

These may seem surprisinng results given that some businesses are solely doing business online.

Could it be that small businesses don’t know what SEO is all about? An earlier study by Weebly confirms this fear noting that almost 45 percent of businesses don’t know what SEO means.’s Small Business Digital Trends Report was a nationwide survey that sought to understand how small business owners are using online channels to grow their businesses.

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Antony Maina Antony Maina is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends. His beat includes social media, general business reporting and exploring how people relate to technology. With a background in freelance writing, he is a contributor to other tech websites and can be found at Word4Bloggers.

8 Reactions
  1. These numbers are quite large, but honestly not surprising. The small business owners we work with often have little understanding of what it takes to rank on search or to get in front of customers online. Many have a website built and that is all, but that is obviously a mistake. Once you are on the web it will take ongoing efforts to maintain ranking and find new customers.

  2. Steve Robinson

    Hi Antony,

    Thanks for the article.

    It comes as no surprise that 85% of small businesses hit a roadblock in marketing their businesses online.

    I believe that there are 2 reasons for this;

    (1) business owners might be ‘transacting’ online, but they don’t get much from their online ‘marketing’, they don’t know why and they don’t really know what to do about it. A regular feature of clients I start to work with is that they all have a web presence but when I ask how many leads they get from it, they either get little or none, or they just don’t know.

    (2) and this is the killer, they are increasingly ‘Time-Poor’ and because they currently get little if anything from their online marketing, they don’t want to spend time or money on it. So they need simple, clear and easy-to-implement strategies that have an immediate and direct effect on the impact of their business marketing.

    I couldn’t agree more with the quote from David Brown in the report; “(the objective is..) to get their business in front of the right customers” and I might just add “with their own unique, engaging and compelling message!”

    Many thanks


    • Hello Steve,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Sadly many businesses are leaving money on the table because of as you say “they don’t’ know” what SEO is all about.

      I’m hoping the facts will be a wake-up call to all serious businesses.



  3. That’s sad. Skipping web optimization is like shooting jelly on a wall hoping that it sticks. Without optimization, you’ll never be able to track which works and this can hurt your revenue.

  4. I’ve also found that there’re many small business owners who don’t know what exactly SEO is and how it is beneficial for their business revenue. In my point of view, they’ve built up on their own SEO knowledge and put considerable time & effort into developing things. They know they need good SEO, but bad practice or misinformation could prove very costly for them and this made them to stay from web optimization activities.

  5. Hi Antony Maina,

    Thanks for the INFO.

    It comes as no surprise me with 15 percent are effectively using social media to market their products.

    i think, in 2017 social media become rank signal real businesses online.

  6. SEO is definitely a need but it is very costly and a lot time consuming process. But one cannot always keep on paying money to run ads online thus SEO should be worked on alongside.