Why SMMEs Need To Invest In SEO


Not investing in SEO because it’s ‘too expensive, complicated or time-consuming’ is a fatal error many small- to medium-sized businesses make.

In the highly competitive world of digital sales and marketing where the big-moneyed players dominate, SMMEs (small, medium and micro enterprises) have their work cut out for them.

SEO, SERP, ROI, CPA, AI, CRM, PPC, CPC… The digital marketing acronyms alone are enough to make any business owner’s head spin and unsure of where to start and what to budget for.

It doesn’t have to be that complex or daunting, though.

Leaving technical jargon behind, ultimately an SMME wants to reach their ideal customer as quickly and naturally as possible.

Go back 50 years and a small convenience store would grab potential customers’ attention via a person on a loud hailer calling out an unbeatable deal, ‘Two for the price of one! 50% off!’. If it was something a person wanted, or even didn’t really need at the time but they knew it was a good deal, they walked into the store and bought it.

However, the salesman attracting customers at the door cost something to be there. Whether it was print, radio or TV, advertising required a budget.

Today, customers are far more nuanced, selective, and concerned about their privacy. They are harder to reach, and many would rather find you than have you find them.

The loud hailer and voice yelling into the crowd has been replaced with the sophisticated listening devices of search engines instead. If an SMME wants to hear what people are asking for, they need to engage with and budget for search engine optimization

“Only 49% of small businesses invest in SEO to improve their visibility online”

– The Manifest: Small Business SEO Statistics 2021


How Does SEO Fit into a Marketing Plan?

In SEO the word optimization is a verb – an action or practice that needs to take place to reach an optimal state.

In terms of a SMME’s marketing plan, the main aim is to optimize the quality and quantity of traffic that reaches the business’ website, ideally without having to pay a search engine for this traffic through pay-per-click advertising, which can become financially unsustainable.

Going back to the word practice, it’s an ongoing discipline, kind of like going to gym to stay fit and healthy.


What Does Good SEO Do For An SMME?

1. Create Brand Awareness 

Getting people to know a brand is not a small undertaking, particularly when building a business from scratch. Concentrating on website content, which is underpinned by relevant, useful keywords, creates information that is genuinely beneficial to potential customers. When implementing an SEO strategy, many of the tools and activities automatically make a website helpful and attractive to new users.

Pretty basic math, but more visitors = increased brand awareness.


2. Drive Sales

With strong SEO in place, a customer has walked through an SMME’s virtual door with no need for a loud hailer! Half the work required in the traditional sales funnel is done, so that the focus for the business can be on closing the sale through other types of digital interactions.

An example is the recent explosion of Direct Message chat boxes that open on many websites, so that a customer can interact with an actual person if they wish to. They are through the digital shop door, and that initial attraction was reliant on brilliant SEO.


“By investing in long term SEO, small businesses will see a higher number of new customers and gain more brand recognition by people searching for their services”

– The Manifest: Small Business SEO Statistics 2021


3. Improve User Experience 

Playing within the rules of Google, an SEO strategy will focus on adjusting and developing websites to be awesome for viewing on mobile phones. This is all-important because, if it’s a hack to navigate the website via mobile, the user will abandon the cart and move on.

“57% of internet users won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed website on mobile”

– Formstack

Good SEO strategies will also direct SMMEs to make sure page load time is as fast as it can be, to ensure users don’t get frustrated and hit the ‘X’ button.


Budget for the Practice of SEO

The general rule of thumb for most businesses is to set aside around 7% to 15% of revenue for marketing. It is critical to have a portion of that amount set aside for an overall Digital Marketing Plan, and a percentage within that specifically for SEO.

“Small businesses lose valuable customers and traffic when they do not pursue a developed SEO plan”

– The Manifest: Small Business SEO Statistics 2021

The key thing to remember is that Google’s algorithms and requirements for top ranking change based on ongoing data collection and analysis, which is an exhausting thing to think about from an SMME’s perspective.

Just when a business thinks they are on top of it in terms of on-page (i.e. keywords) and off-page (i.e. backlinks) SEO, there is a shift in how Google’s spiders are programmed to crawl and collate data from websites, and tweaking needs to take place to match this behaviour. This is where budgets can start to really feel stretched, enthusiasm can run dry, and the point at which many SMMEs make the fatal error of giving up on SEO.

“38% of SMMEs believe $100 or less per month on SEO will deliver results, but 53% of businesses only see results when they spend $500 or more per month.”

– The Manifest: Small Business SEO Statistics 2021

More reading: check out this great blog from Search Engine Journal on why and how much SMMEs should invest in SEO



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