Study: 1 in 3 business owners have no idea that Google determines search rankings [infographics]

Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the crucial pieces of any digital marketing strategy. In order to compete in business these days, you need to have a general understanding of how search and Google impacts your lead flow.

Unfortunately, for those less tech-savvy leaders, there is a world of opportunity passing them by. In a recent study conducted by a digital growth company, Fractl, 900 people were tested on their knowledge of basic SEO knowledge. Nearly 400 of these respondents were business owners.

This study found that 1 in 4 businesses say they’re not at all or only vaguely familiar with SEO. Not only does this show that businesses might not be implementing the most impactful content strategies, but they’re also likely missing out on simple improvements, like increasing site speed and enhancing the user experience.

SEO Knowledge Gaps [Survey]


When asked how familiar people are with SEO and search engines, only 13 percent of consumer respondents and 26 percent of business owners claimed they had a “good” or “expert-level” understanding.

One wouldn’t necessarily need to fully grasp SEO concepts if they’re in the general population. It’s not important for most people to know what “alt text” or “domain authority” means. However, Google rankings are of the utmost importance for many businesses, so an expert-level understanding should be a bit more common.

When considering the basics, 1 in 3 business owners also said they had no idea that Google determines search rankings. Granted, some smaller businesses may not even need to consider these facts if they use third party vendors to sell their products. However, staying up-to-date on Google algorithm updates and SEO news is one of the easiest ways to improve your conversion rate and visibility online.

Understanding SEO Buzzwords

Beyond rudimentary knowledge of how Google rankings works, there are a number of SEO-related buzzwords business owners don’t understand.



The study found that both business owners and the general public were much more familiar with the concepts like “domain” and “keywords” than they were with other, more complex aspects of SEO, like “backlinks”.

This may show that those who have a general idea of how Google works don’t take the time to attain a holistic understanding.

Those who lack an understanding of how backlinks and digital marketing plays into SERPs may be missing out on a major opportunity to grow their brand and revenue. Digital marketing can be very helpful for startups, services, and projects alike for a number of reasons. Mainly, it allows smaller businesses to broaden their audience on a budget. In the digital era, it’s essential to utilize all the tools you have at your disposal to compete online.

Understanding How Your Audience Searches

Without a general understanding of how Google positions brands in search, you can’t target your desired audience properly. The more businesses understand the search intent of their audience, the easier it is to create content that meets that intent.


For example, a recent study found that members of Gen-Z use the longest queries over every other generation, and Millennials had the shortest queries, on average. Each generation differs not only in number of words used in search, but diction is also different through the ages.

When businesses lack a sense of how each target demographic uses Google, they can’t adapt their content and interface to meet those tendencies and improve their SERPs.

By understanding the basics of SEO and simply improving your website structure and content, you can improve the position of your company in search. These are proven methods of Google manipulation that improve brand visibility, bring in more customers, and drive conversions.

The content creator and researcher behind the study, Chris Lewis, gave some feedback on how SEO can be implemented in your business- “From a technical perspective, there are little things any business owner can do that can make an SEO impact immediately, that people just didn't know about. For instance, nearly half of people didn't know site speed was an important factor in search rankings - something that can be optimized fairly easily.”

Testing your knowledge

This study from Fractl took things a bit further by creating a quiz for business owners to take in order to test their knowledge. Both business owners and the general public scored failing grades.



On average, respondents scored lower than an F (44 percent). This further proves the lack of understanding among both consumers and business owners of the nuances of Google and SEO.

For the small 3.8 percent of business owners who scored perfectly on all eight SEO questions, they are likely also ranking above their competition in search. Learning the implications of analytics and optimizing your website for search is the bottom line when it comes to beating out the competition.

Lewis explained, “It was interesting how people rated their own knowledge fairly low, though they said they would be comfortable describing keywords to other people. For instance, 65% of business owners and 51% of nonbusiness owners said they could confidently describe alt text to someone, but only 33% of people total selected the correct answer when we asked them to tell us what it was. This shows a huge disconnect in what people think they know vs. actually know.”

The impact of SEO

Interestingly, there is a gap between 55% of business owners who say they’re “mostly” or “very” familiar with SEO and only 18.4% who say that it’s “very important” to the health of their businesses.



If that 55% of business owners are, in fact, deeply familiar with SEO, there would be a much higher percentage of them claiming that SEO is “very” important to the health of their business. Perhaps, that 18.4% are the only ones doing it correctly. Or maybe they’re the only ones who are ranking.

People claiming SEO is “not at all” or only “slightly” important to their business health could be in the percentage of people without a website or working for themselves as an entrepreneur. This small percentage may also be using inadequate tools to measure ROI data.

Whatever the case may be, if you have an in-depth and comprehensive understanding of SEO, and are implementing all the strategies at your disposal to optimize your site - you should be seeing improvements in your business.

Why does this matter?

It’s easy to take Google for granted. There are approximately 3.5 billion searches passing through Google each and every day, and as more people gain access to smartphones and computer technology, that number will continue to grow.

When you search for something and see the results appear, it’s easy to ignore the analytics triumph behind the screen. Understanding how it all works and why you’re seeing the results you’re seeing can massively improve your business success.

Businesses need to know what paid results look like, how their competition is performing, how they can build authority and trust, and how people online can become better acquainted with a brand online.

SEO for business owners is exceptionally important – they need to understand how search engines work so they can better rank their own website and get more traffic to their pages.

Read next: Analysis of 450K Websites Reveals How World's Most Popular Websites Acquire Their Visitors

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