The Science of SEO: Is it Worth it for Small Businesses in 2023?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing a website to increase its visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). While SEO can be beneficial for businesses of all sizes, the question remains: is it worth it for small businesses in 2023? To answer this question, we will explore the perspectives of Ahrefs[1] and Forbes[2] and draw on insights from psychology and cognitive science.

Ahrefs suggests that the value of SEO for small businesses depends on a few key factors:

  • Do your customers search for your product or service online?
  • Do you have an online presence?
  • Can you afford the cost/effort of SEO?

While answering “yes” to the first two questions may indicate that SEO is worth it in theory, the cost/effort may outweigh the reward. Ahrefs explains that there are three options for investing in SEO, with hiring an agency being the most expensive, costing $134.66/hour (+ retainer) on average.

Forbes takes a different approach, highlighting the following SEO services as the best for small businesses in 2023:

  • SmartSites: Overall Best for Small Businesses
  • Victorious: Best for New Websites
  • WebFX: Best for Affordable Monthly SEO Plans
  • OuterBox: Best for E-commerce SEO

To delve deeper into the science behind whether SEO is worth it for small businesses, let us consider insights from psychology and cognitive science.

  • Decision fatigue: Small business owners are faced with many decisions every day. The more decisions they make, the more mental energy they use up, which can lead to decision fatigue. Investing in SEO may be one more decision that small business owners have to make, and they may feel overwhelmed by the thought of it.
  • Confirmation bias: Small business owners may be tempted to invest in SEO because they have heard about its benefits from others. However, they may ignore or discount evidence that suggests that SEO may not be worth it for their particular business.
  • Anchoring bias: Small business owners may be anchored to a certain idea of what SEO should cost, based on what they have heard from others or their past experiences. This may lead them to either overpay or underinvest in SEO.

Overall, the science of SEO suggests that the question of whether it is worth it for small businesses in 2023 is a complex one. While SEO can be beneficial, it may also be costly and may require significant mental energy to make a decision about investing in it. Small business owners should carefully consider their unique circumstances, goals, and budget before making a decision about SEO.