57% Of North American Businesses Still Don’t Have An SEO Strategy


A recent survey of 600 U.S. and Canadian small to medium-sized business owners and their employees has revealed that 57% do not have an SEO strategy – and 23% have no plans to create one this year.

The Pollfish survey commissioned by UpCity found that just 44% of businesses currently have an SEO strategy in place and 34% have made it a priority to do so in 2022.

These findings are surprising coming off the back of nearly two years of pandemic-related economic turmoil and uncertainty for businesses, although the relatively small sample size is worth noting.

Internet traffic grew by 40% globally in 2020 as consumers’ informational needs and shopping behaviors changed dramatically due to lockdowns, fear, and restrictions on businesses.

Search interest in SEO spiked early on in the pandemic to its highest-ever level as businesses scrambled to get discovered by customers suddenly searching for nearby solutions for food delivery, online banking and healthcare appointments, home office furnishings, and more.

Interest in SEO has remained strong as it’s come through not only as a valuable marketing channel but a key source of customer insight in a time where historic data proved largely useless, as well.

SEO works, and businesses know it.

Our own State of SEO 2021 study revealed that between mid-2020 and mid-2021, client site traffic increased for 64% of the SEO pros surveyed.

SEJ also found that 74.3% of SEO budgets either held steady or increased in that timeframe.

And so UpCity’s finding that a sizable majority of businesses have no SEO strategy in place is alarming – at least for those businesses involved.

Key Findings From UpCity’s SEO SMB Survey Report

“We discovered in our inquiries that while many respondents are utilizing SEO strategies, many are also combining their SEO practices with PPC strategies in order to create synergy between the two marketing channels,” report author David J. Brin wrote.

In fact, 50% of small businesses with an SEO strategy in place are also investing in paid search advertising, and another 30% plan to do so this year.

PPC Advertising Platforms Of Choice

When it comes to where these small businesses are investing their PPC spend, UpCity found that:

  • 28% use Google Ads
  • 17% use Facebook Ads
  • 14% use Instagram Ads
  • 9% use Amazon Ads
  • 9% use LinkedIn Ads
PPC ad platforms used by small businesses, UpCityWhich PPC ad platforms are you using? – UpCity

Small Business Analytics Tools Of Choice

When small businesses were asked which tools they use for analytics:

How small businesses handle SEO, UpCity“We asked the community what they were using for SEO analytics?” – UpCity

Top Small Business SEO Goals For 2022

When it comes to what businesses most want to accomplish this year in their SEO program, UpCity found that these were the top-weighted goals:

  • Increase organic traffic.
  • Convert more organic visitors.
  • Strengthen domain authority.
  • Win more featured snippets.
  • Increase brand awareness.
  • Strengthen internal linking strategy.
  • Improve page speed.
  • Lower bounce and exit rates.
  • Create a stronger backlink profile.
  • Diversify range of high-traffic pages.

On the flip side, UpCity’s data means that 78% percent of businesses are making SEO a priority in 2022. That’s great news for them.

The holdouts – those who don’t plan to create an SEO strategy this year or don’t come through on their plans to implement one – will likely find it increasingly difficult to get discovered by new customers online.

You have to start somewhere.

Read more of UpCity’s findings in their full ‘How Small Businesses Handle SEO‘ survey report.

More resources:


Featured image: Shutterstock.com/KrakenImages





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57% Of North American Businesses Still Don’t Have An SEO Strategy
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