Small Businesses With Low Online Visibility Can Easily Improve

When you ask small business owners if they want their business ranked high on the Internet, nearly all answer in the affirmative. But how many of them invest in their online visibility?

To answer this question, we took a look at businesses in San Diego and calculated their visibility on search engines, directories and yellow pages sites. We discovered an interesting distribution between those with low, medium, and high online visibility.

The graph below depicts the online visibility of 194K San Diego small busineses:

chart pic 4

As we see on the left side of the chart, the majority of businesses have low visibility. They may be listed on a few search engines and local directories, but otherwise make no investment in their online presence. To the right of the spike but still in the ‘low visibility’ group we see businesses that are making some amount of effort, such as claiming their listings or setting up a website.

The middle of the chart illustrates those businesses with decent visibility – they are listed in most places, and have taken additional steps such as optimizing their website and advertising online.

Only the minority, as shown on the right side of the chart, has excellent visibility – these businesses are at the top of the top. They invest serious dollars in effective PPC advertising, social media tools, video marketing, and are listed in the Google 7-pack for relevant keywords.

So what does ‘excellent online visibility’ mean in concrete terms? Take a look at Bill Howe Plumbing Inc.* who received a high visibility score on AmIVisible. This business owner has invested in nearly every possible avenue for his visibility.

He is listed on search engines and yellow pages sites, and has claimed these listings:

search engine pic 3

He advertises on Superpages, Yellowbook, and other sites:

Superpages pic

He posted numerous videos on YouTube:

YouTube pic

He created pages on Facebook and Twitter:

Facebook pic

And on and on. This is about as good as it gets in the world of online visibility.

What this means for the average small business owner with low visibility is that there are easy, low-cost steps you can take to get ahead. A minor investment such as listing yourself better, optimizing your website, or spending a little in advertising can have a big impact. It’s the SMB’s with the lowest visibility that have the greatest opportunity for improvement.

By no means should all SMB’s try to be ‘the best’ –100% perfect visibility is a neither necessary nor attainable goal. The focus should be on breaking away from the low-end majority, keeping in mind that visibility is a relative and not an objective measurement.

It’s the businesses in the middle who are already investing something that face a bigger challenge. In order to be like Bill, it will require significantly more money and effort.

*Disclaimer: Bill Howe Plumbing Inc. is not a client of or in any way associated with AmIVisible. The business was randomly selected as an example of high online visibility for the purposes of this post.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Other | Small Is Beautiful


About The Author: is CEO at Palore, a provider of local businesses' advertising data and information on their online activity. He also blogs at The Palore Blog. This column is researched and written by the marketing department at Palore, which is led by Hanan.

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  • roqstarseo

    Great Article. I only work in the Local Search Marketing realm and have been doing so for about three years, I have seen this exact chart above I only have ONE client that invests in all three avenues of advertising. Local, PPC and Traditional SEO, and guess who likes me the most, makes the most money and is doing overall the best in her life? The one with the highest online visibilty. So thanks again for the Great article.

  • Dennis Brennan

    Really good to put in it perspective as you did.

    I too provide small business online marketing services (website, seo, ppc etc) however, many times I come across a small business owner that sees no value in online marketing and I do not want to attempt to sell him or her on why they need to invest in online marketing, it’s like cold calling. I’ve been told that if a business owner did not think of something themselves, they’ll look the other way.

    What have been your most successful ways to approach these SMB types?

  • andyleff

    Another site to check out is, yes its a local business dirctory, ut its the only one out ther that gives the SMB the ability to open up an ecommerce storefront in their listing page. We have found that businesses, particulaly in rural areas dont have a clue about how to advertise or get online visibility, and all it takes is for osmeone to show them some attention and they have the budgets fr it, it really is interesting what you see in this space when you get outside of the big metr areas.


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