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63% of consumers turn to the internet first for information about local businesses and 82% use search engines to do so. Amazingly only 44% of small businesses have a website and half spend less than 10% of their marketing budget online.

Such statistics from Webvisible and Nielsen are quite alarming and uncovers a significant disconnect between the way small business owners act as consumers vs. the way they market their businesses online. Webvisible calls this disparity “the great divide.”

Surveys have found that search engines, by a large margin, are the most popular source for finding local products and services.

The list of top sources for local information:

  • 82% use search engines (such as Google, Yahoo, or MSN).
  • 57% use Yellow Pages directories.
  • 53% use local newspapers.
  • 49% use Internet Yellow Pages (such as or
  • 49% use TV.
  • 38% use direct mail.
  • 32% White Pages directories

Of those surveyed, 50% said search engines (such as Google, Yahoo, or MSN) were the first place they looked when seeking a local business, while only 24% chose the Yellow Pages directories.

Overall Satisfaction with Search High

Despite the fact that 40% of searchers report frequently not being able to locate a particular known business, an overwhelming majority say they are happy with the results they get when using search engines.

This means that while searchers don’t always find the specific business that they were looking for (because of no online advertising/no website, etc.), they may choose to do business with a company that has a stronger online presence.

Future Trends Show Accelerating Use of Online Marketing

Online search and e-mail newsletters are the only forms of traditional media that are growing amongst consumers who wish to locate local products or services.

Consumers report they use search engines and email newsletters more than compared with two years ago. While they use newspapers, magazines, direct mail and radio less.

Small Business Web Presence is Low

Only 44% of small businesses have a website!

Many consumers report that they have struggled to recall the name of a business in their area or wish to quickly check the website for store hours, directions or a phone number. However, when using a search engine to find a business they know exists, only 19% of survey respondents report never or rarely encountering trouble locating that business online and 39% say they routinely have difficulty.

This disparity, clearly illustrates the reasons why consumers have difficulty finding small businesses online.

Small Businesses Not Satisfied with Online Marketing

Even the small businesses that do have a websites are not necessarily seeking to get more traffic to it, and are not happy overall with their online marketing.

Among those small businesses that have a website:

  • 51% believe both the quality and ability of their website to acquire new customers is only “fair” or “poor.”
  • Only 30% of business owners feel that they typically do a better job of marketing than a close competitor.
  • 61% spend less than three hours a week marketing their website.
  • Only 9% are satisfied with their online marketing efforts.
  • 78% of small business owners dedicate 10% or less of their budget to marketing. Of those, half spend less than 10% of their marketing budget on internet advertising, while 30% do no Internet advertising.

Small businesses are sometimes at a disadvantage because they aren’t aware of the importance of internet marketing.

As consumers move to the web and search engines in particular, small businesses are being pushed to make more efforts to improve their internet marketing.

In the last two years, 45% of small businesses say they have increased use of search engines in their marketing efforts. While use of traditional forms of advertising have declined, 23% say they use the Yellow pages less and 42% say they use the local newspaper less.

Overall, internet marketing is a great asset and necessity for all small business owners.

What are your thoughts about small business internet marketing? Need help to create an effective online presence for your small business?

Geoffrey Purkis

Geoffrey is the Founder and CEO of Seattle Web Search. He’s a web developer and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) expert located in Seattle, Washington with extensive experience in the field. Geoffrey specializes in helping his clients find the right combination of web, search, social, and video content to get the best results from their online marketing efforts.


  • Bianca Simpson says:

    Will having a website for my business truly be worth it in the long run? How much do companies usually spend on internet marketing annually?

    • Natalie Schobert says:

      Yes. Definitely. Companies typically spent around 10% of their revenue in 2014 on internet marketing annually. It will bring in big rewards for your business!

  • Amanda Johnston says:

    How can my company best close the gap separating us from consumers?

    • Kathleen Ryan says:

      In today’s world, it is important to have a strong online presence. If your company develops a strong digital presence, more consumer will be able to find and work with your company!

  • Christine says:

    What if a local business company have limited resources and little time to work on online marketing for a small business company? What is the best alternative route and way to manage the online marketing?

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