SEO Stats Galore In Latest MarketingSherpa Benchmark Study

seo-reportDo 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.

SEO Tactics

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.

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | SEM Industry: Stats | Stats: General | Top News


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • Larry

    The link building discussion is interesting but I’m not surprised that the percentage there is low. I am surprised that use of XML sitemaps is so low (near the bottom of the list, 46% for all respondents, 66% for strategic responders. Wonder if it’s just that the people who answered the survey just didn’t know that XML sitemaps were being used?

  • Ralph

    Yes, I would’ve expected the XML option to be up there with the basic house keeping items. Also pretty surprised to see SEO landing pages not feature more prominently as this also seems an obvious tactic.
    he same can be said for competitor bench marking because I’d have thought that would be one of the first things a novice would look at… new clients who are fresh to SEO almost always refer to another site they wish to emulate. I guess there’s a difference between actual bench marking with rankings, link analysis etc and simply reading a bit about SEO and then going and optimizing your title tags like a competitor…

  • Reg Charie

    I am surprised that the amount of external link building is so high.
    Google tells us that it is black hat if done in an effort to influence search results.

    Google’s Susan Mowska has again stepped up to reinforce her comment that PageRank is not a metric to use for SERPs.

  • Matt McGee

    Reg – I think you might have read a misquote or been mislead. Google has never said that link building is black hat. They have, however, warned against BUYING links in an attempt to influence search results.

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