Only 30% of SMBs would recommend their current SEO provider, survey finds

Only 30% of SMBs would recommend their current SEO provider, survey finds


“I was surprised to see that many clients blame themselves for the SEO agency relationship going sour,” said Brian Dean, founder of Backlinko, referring to his survey of 1,200 business owners, in which just 30% would recommend their current SEO agency and another 30% said they would leave a negative review.

The report also found a strong relationship between budget and satisfaction, with clients who dedicated over $500/month to SEO services being 53.3% more likely to describe themselves as “extremely satisfied” compared to those who spent less. Budget was just one of the many factors that contributed to the overall perception of SEO services — the survey also asked business owners about their comfort with the subject, expectations, preferences and their top priorities when selecting an agency.   

Client education and satisfaction. “In fact, 50% of our panel told us that ‘I feel like I need more training to fully benefit from what SEO offers,’ and another 28% said that they didn’t have the staff to implement the SEO provider’s recommendation,” Dean told Search Engine Land. 

The survey also found that 44% of SMBs left their SEO provider because they were dissatisfied with business results and 34% said it was due to responsiveness and customer service issues. The subset of business owners that were happy with their SEO service were found to be twice as likely to describe themselves as “extremely web savvy,” whereas lapsed clients (those that have worked with multiple SEO services) were significantly more likely to claim that they are not web savvy.

“This finding shows that client education can be the difference between losing a client after a few months… and having a loyal client for years. And that supporting clients with resources (or just being a ‘squeaky wheel’) can help agencies get their client’s title tag changed or their Google My Business listing fixed,” Dean explained.

Client expectations and preferences. The top three priorities for business owners enlisting SEO services were increasing site traffic (65% of respondents), accessing new customers (62%) and driving up brand awareness (61%). 

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