Websites and SEO are still critical to local businesses’ digital marketing success

Capital One’s Fall 2016 Small Business Barometer Survey, conducted last October, found that barely over half (56 per cent) of small businesses have a website, and that only 53 per cent of existing sites are mobile-friendly.

There are a number of reasons why business owners have chosen to leave websites out of their online strategy, including the growing competition presented by social media networks, online directories, and review sites. ‘Why should I spend my time and money creating a company website,’ businesses appear to be saying, ‘when these platforms will provide me with a free presence on the web?’

Small local business owners are particularly keen on social media. Nearly 43 per cent of SMBs surveyed by the Local Search Association (LSA) considered social to be their most important marketing tool, followed by search engine optimzation at 25.6 per cent, and paid search at 12.8 per cent.

While social media is without question a valuable component of a well-rounded digital marketing strategy, we at GrowthEngine Media believe there are still many reasons to create, optimize, and dutifully maintain a beautiful, mobile-friendly website.

“Consumers use websites to find or engage with business 63 per cent of the time,” wrote LSA’s Wesley Young in a May 2017 Search Engine Land article. “These numbers show that despite the growth of other media, the value of websites has not diminished – in fact, it continues to grow.”

Search engine optimization remains essential to getting found online, and all of the top ranking factors for local organic search results rely on optimized websites. Consumers are also increasingly relying on local packs and map results to find nearby businesses; a Google My Business profile can help you appear on Google Maps, but won’t get you into the local pack.

In defending the continuing use and optimization of websites, Young also cites research showing that 30 per cent of consumers don’t consider engaging with a business that doesn’t have a website, and 46 per cent rely on websites to gauge business’s trustworthiness. Together, those are a lot of potential customers to leave on the table in the interest of saving time and money on website development.

As a Premier Google Partner All-Star Agency with access to valuable insights on Google’s preferred practices, GrowthEngine Media knows that social media is a great marketing tool. We also believe, however, that it works best as part of a holistic local marketing approach anchored by a robust, informative website and careful search engine optimization.


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