One of the report categories from MarketingSherpa that I’ve been reviewing for a long time, as in 5 or more years, is their coverage of Search Engine Marketing. In particular, the Search Engine Marketing Benchmark Report – SEO Edition. (See last year’s review here).
The sub-title is appropriately a great indication of the theme for this guide: “Research and Insights for Creating and Capitalizing on a Rich End-User Search Experience. This is a far cry from the days of “Boost Your Search Engine Rankings and More!”. As Online Marketers have matured, there is an increasing focus on optimizing for customers and customer experience vs. the sole KPIs of rankings and traffic.
Authored by Research Analyst Kaci Bower, MarketingSherpa’s 2012 Search Marketing Benchmark Report SEO Edition is broken down into an executive summary that outlines key findings from the survey from which the report is based, 10 chapters on everything from integrating Social Media & SEO to Mobile tactics to SEO Success Stories. There’s also an appendix that includes charts from the research.
If you’re a nut for data, charts and research based insights, this guide is priceless. The section on Planning and Tracking budgets as well as the Agency Perspectives offer helpful information for consultants and of course the SEO Objectives/Tactics, Local, Mobile and Content Marketing sections offer plenty of tactics and insights for practitioners.
If you read Online Marketing Blog, you know we’ve been promoting the notion of “optimize for customers” over a sole focus on keywords. That perspective blends well with the customer-centric theme of MarketingSherpa’s SEO Report.
Just think about the richness of users search experience today in stark contrast to the bland search results made up mostly of just web pages several years ago. With Google in particular, Universal Search, Personalized Search, Social Search, Instant Search, Local/Mobile, Preview and even the currently suspended Real-Time Search all factor together to give users what they’re looking for. The diversity of search experience is the basis for the research and recommendations in the 2012 SEO Guide.
One of the interesting insights from the research in this report includes the disconnect between marketers that consider SEO Strategy an important challenge to overcome, but not a a top objective. That mismatch in priorities can be costly in terms of ineffective prioritization of tactics and inefficient utilization of resources. The real irony is stated in the report, “Interestingly, increasing measurable ROI ranked higher as an objective than developing an actual strategy to do so!”
Another key finding concerns the importance of Content Marketing, which was rated as one of the most effective tactics for SEO but also one of the most difficult to implement. Content has been a hot topic for years, with many SEOs dismissing “content is king” as a whitehat SEO battle cry. But of course, relevant (optimized) content is effective for link building, sharing and certainly for inspiring prospects to become customers. The SEO Report identifies many other top SEO tactics as well, segmenting by organization SEO maturity and industry.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. MarketingSherpa has done a great job at providing data sliced and diced every way you can imagine with this year’s version of the SEO Report. The survey findings presented according to level of SEO maturity is especially helpful for companies that have been utilizing SEO best practices for some time, but want to continue to advance their progress.
For organizations that are just starting to investigate a more holistic approach to SEO to professionals that want to incorporate SEO best practices in their areas of expertise (like Public Relations, Web Design, Interactive), the 2012 SEO Guide is full of data, examples and insights.
You can get a sneak peek at the Search Marketing Benchmark Report, SEO Edition and more information about the report overall on the MarketingSherpa website (affiliate link).