SEOs Expect ROI, Headcounts & Influence to Increase in 2013 at Conductor #C3NY

Conductor C3 logoEarlier this month, we ran a survey of SEW readers in conjunction with Conductor. The aim was to get a sense of what challenges the industry is facing and find out whether search marketers are investing in tools and if they were enjoying a seat in the boardroom.

The results are pretty exciting. It seems that not only are organizations recognizing the value of SEO as an acquisition channel and increasing headcounts and marketing budgets, but also SEOs are feeling more empowered in being able to influence other parts of the business. Over the next 12 months, SEOs will be focusing on increasing the keyword footprint of their organization, delivering greater ROI, and developing a content strategy.

Key Takeaways

  • The second most common place (16 percent of 600 survey respondents) for search in the organization is now in its own department
  • 6 out of 10 organizations expect to increase SEO headcount in the coming year.
  • 63 percent of executive teams are more familiar with SEO metrics than 12 months ago.
  • 65 percent of respondents say natural search is influencing revenue strategy more than 12 months ago.

Strong Expression of Confidence

A theme which emerges from the report is just how buoyant the industry feels right now. This is reflected not only in increased headcount and familiarity with metrics and the recognition that search is important enough to require its own department but also in the fact that search marketers report that they expect to see an increase in influencing other parts of the business in the next 12 months. It seems that the C-Suite is paying attention to insights from search marketing teams!

What is clear is that SEO is no longer work to be done in isolation but in collaboration with other areas of the business. Seventy-eight percent of marketers responding to the survey expect SEO metrics to inform other areas of business more in the coming year:

Search Engine Watch and Conductor SEO Industry Survey

As discussed yesterday with Hugo Guzman, there are a number of ways that search can influence other departments. For example, search marketers in the online retail market can use search query data to inform the Merchandizing department about demand for a product or identify gaps in the product line assortment.

Search query data can also form the foundation of a product description strategy. Guzman found that adding keyword modifiers such as ‘tufted’ to product descriptions for furniture drove more traffic.

Finally, not outlined in the previous article, Guzman also told SEW that have mastered a methodology using bounce rates to identify when television broadcasts on the Home Shopping Network were driving interest in a particular product. This is not just useful data for the search marketing team, but also interesting reach metrics for merchandizing and sales teams.

The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same

Nonetheless, despite the prevailing sense of optimism, it would seem that search teams face the usual suspects of challenges. And we’re not just talking about Google updates here, we’re talking about executive buy-in and insufficient understanding of SEO in the organization. In fact, from the report you will see that there is no standout challenge that emerges, with survey responses broadly distributed across the typical roadblocks, whether that be lack of headcount, inability to make changes to the website and executive buy in.

Similarly, the goals of survey respondents was fairly evenly distributed across a number of typical operational factor.

However, what is of note is that ‘content development’ was the top goal – beating ‘scaling keywords’ and ‘measuring ROI on search’. Whilst this may simply be a reflection of the industry grokking the importance of the Panda and Penguin updates, “content development” has not traditionally come under the SEO’s remit, instead outsourced to other parts of the business or externally.

That the top goal among survey respondents is around what would have previously been a silted discipline seems to clearly corroborate the idea that search marketers are feeling more influential and that their influence has already successfully bled into other areas of the business. With the expression that content development needs to fall under the search marketing remit, SEOs are not only reacting to algorithm changes but also expressing determination to collaborate with other departments.

Do the survey results echo your own position? Download a copy of the report here.

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