Small businesses are set to invest more in SEO in 2013, compared to last year, in response to the latest search engine updates, according to new research by digital marketing specialist Omoii.

The company surveyed 452 UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) and found that almost two in three had an SEO budget of over £22,000 in 2012. Interestingly, 7% did not allocate a single pound on SEO, the poll revealed. Three in five of those who invested in SEO outsourced the service to a third party.

Looking at 2013, 89% of the companies would still continue to invest in SEO, with 68% hiking their budgets. By contrast, 15% are thinking of decreasing the amount of money spent on SEO and for 17% budgets will remain flat.

When asked about the specific areas of SEO they would focus on over the course of the year, nearly half of the SMEs cited content marketing, 30% pointed out to website platform, including coding and architecture and 22% said link building, involving activities like removing bad links.

Despite being concerned about the effect the Penguin update might have on their businesses, many of the SMEs believed that the update will result in better websites, with a higher quality of the content and will provide an improved user experience. This suggests that SEO is now accepted as a primary marketing tool, even though many businesses saw their rankings drop last year, Omoii noted.