Google launched in 1998, more than 20 years ago. Yet the importance and value of search optimization is still not fully understood by many business owners. That’s an eye-opening finding from a recent survey by digital agency Fractl.
Business owners and consumers surveyed. Fractl surveyed 977 people in total about their Google and SEO knowledge, just under 400 of them were business owners (394). Just over 200 (219) had fewer than 5 employees. The remainder had between 5 and more than 100, with second largest group in the 10 to 24 headcount range.
The survey asked a range of general and specific questions, including “the meaning behind SEO buzzwords.”
The study initially asked consumers and business owners about how Google ranks search results. Only 13% of consumer respondents and 26% of business owners believed they had a “good” or “expert-level” understanding of why Google shows certain results above others.
Conversely, the majority of both groups did not feel they had a good understanding of how Google orders its results. This general ignorance also showed up in more specific questions about SEO knowledge.
We wouldn’t expect the general population to have a deep understanding of SEO terminology or mechanics. But, at least conceptually, one might expect that of business owners, for whom ranking matters.
Business owners were asked about their familiarity with SEO. A little more than half (55%) said they were “mostly” or “very” familiar with it.
Less than 20% (18.4%) said that SEO was “very important” to the health of their business. Just over 26% didn’t see SEO as critical to their success (“not at all,” “slightly”) and 55% were in the middle. The latter group believed that SEO was important but weren’t quite certain how important.
Why we care. Perhaps the most interesting finding here is the gap between the 55% of business owners who say they’re “mostly” or “very” familiar with SEO and 18.4% who say that it’s “very important” to the health of their businesses. Either the 55% aren’t all that familiar with SEO or there’s a problem with analytics or ROI data. Or maybe only the 18.4% are ranking.
Regardless, it appears the market still needs considerable education about the importance of SEO and/or better tools and techniques to demonstrate value.