Do you find link building to be the most difficult SEO tactic to employ? Do you find content creation to be the most effective SEO tactic? What about conversions? Are you looking for website visitors to complete a form, or make a purchase?
You can compare your answers to those questions and many others in the 2012 Search Marketing Benchmark Report – SEO Edition, which was recently compiled and published by MarketingSherpa. This 8th annual report includes more than 150 charts from a survey of 1,530 marketers around the world in April 2011.
This year’s benchmark report is divided into 10 chapters including “SEO Tactics,” “The Importance of Content in a Search Marketing Strategy,” “Integrating Social Media and SEO” and “Capitalizing on Local Search.”
Data are further segmented by “SEO maturity phase” of the respondents — i.e., how formal/developed they are in doing SEO — by primary channel (B2B/B2C), organization size and industry. To give you an idea what I’m talking about, let’s look at a couple sample charts.
The chart below shows all responses to the question, Which of the following SEO tactics has your organization used? As you can see, only 59% say they’ve done any external link building.
The report further breaks that down in several ways. The next chart shows the same data, but divided by the SEO maturity of the respondents. As you can see — and perhaps as you’d expect — those who have more formal processes for SEO (“Strategic”) are twice as likely to have done external link building as those without a formal approach to SEO (“Trial”).
There are additional breakdowns of this data based on channel, company size and industry; for example, the data shows that 70% of respondents in the Retail/E-Commerce industry have done external link building — compared to 60% in Media/Publishing and 52% in the Professional/Financial Services industry.
One statistic that stood out for me is that only 47% of respondents listed “Achieving or increasing measurable ROI” as one of their most important SEO objectives. Perhaps that’s a reminder of just how young and undeveloped this industry is as a whole. (If you’re curious, “increasing website traffic” was the top answer in this category with 72% of respondents listing that as their most important objective.)
Some other random data from the SEO benchmark report:
- The Software/SaaS industry is most likely to have a formal SEO process in place, while Education/Healthcare is least likely.
- External link building is the most difficult SEO tactic of all with 75% listing it as either “very difficult” or “somewhat difficult.”
- Content creation is the most effective SEO tactic — 92% said it’s either “very effective” or “somewhat effective.”
- 71% of all respondents said their “typical” ranking for “the majority of your targeted key terms” is on page one of the search results. 28% said their typical ranking is in positions 1-3.
- Only 9% said the quality of leads they get from organic search is “low.” But 57% said the quality is “mixed.”
- 67% are using a free web analytics solution.
- Local search is important to 74% of respondents, 18% of which listed it as “critical.”
The report also includes several sections where random, anonymous comments from survey takers are included — but these are mostly filler and don’t seem to offer much value. The real gems are the 150 or so charts that offer an interesting snapshot of the SEO industry as it exists today.
The full report costs about $400 (depending if you want a print version or just PDF), but you can get a taste of what’s inside by downloading a free excerpt from MarketingSherpa’s website.