Rise of Mobile & Local, Google Updates Top Concerns for Search Marketers

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The rise of mobile Internet use and changes to Google’s algorithm were the most impactful trends and technologies for in-house search engine marketers in 2012.

Forty-seven percent of company respondents to SEMPO’s recent State of Search Marketing survey indicated changes in mobile use are highly significant in the context of their search marketing efforts. An additional 41 percent pegged mobile as significant, for fully 87 percent finding it a concern overall.

Eighty-seven percent also felt Google algorithm updates were significant to their search marketing strategy, 39 percent saying highly so.

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On the agency side, mobile was again most impactful. However, agencies overall are more concerned with the rise of local search than Google algorithm changes.

When considering entering new marketing channels, search marketers are most influenced by the cost to implement (58 percent), the ability to manage it in-house (51 percent), and the time it will take to implement (51 percent.) Lesser concerns include:

  • Cost per lead or acquisition.
  • Cost to manage.
  • Ability to report.
  • Ability to target.
  • Learning curve.

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Not surprisingly, paid search gets top marks for the ability to calculate ROI. Just 15 percent of in-house respondents report their company is “Good” at measuring social media ROI.

Said the report, “To some extent this is simply a problem of time and investment; companies would love to have a better idea of ROI, but aren’t willing to implement the technologies and processes it would require, not to mention the staff.”

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Agencies practicing SEO are most often using it to generate leads and drive traffic to the client website, said respondents. SEMPO/Econsultancy note, “Although SEO has changed significantly with the Panda and Penguin updates, goals haven’t. There is a drop in the blunt objective of driving traffic, but it’s still a key goal. More interesting perhaps is the doubling of agencies citing brand/reputation as a goal, up from 5% in 2011 to over 11% in this year’s survey.”

The metrics used most often to measure success in SEO by in-house SEOs/companies are:

  • Number of sales/leads (49 percent)
  • Traffic volume (47 percent)
  • Conversion rate (41 percent)
  • Return on investment (32 percent)
  • Keyword rankings (30 percent).

(Not equal to 100 percent as survey respondents were asked to select the three most important metrics.)

The most important SEO metrics looked slightly different on the agency side:

  • Number of sales/leads (42 percent)
  • Return on investment (41 percent)
  • Traffic volume (40 percent)
  • Keyword rankings (40 percent)
  • Conversion rate (38 percent)

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Overall, companies have increased their SEO budgets over the last three years, though 2 percent of respondents said they spent nothing on SEO at all.

The complete State of Search Marketing Report 2012 is available to SEMPO members to download from their SEM Research page.