Lee Odden

SEO Tops Recession Internet Marketing Tactics

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, Reader Polls, SEO

internet marketing poll

Let’s face it, we’re experiencing more than “interesting” economic times, especially those with a marketing responsibility in-house and at agencies.

To tap in to the stream of marketing-savvy collective wisdom online, we reached out to our network with a top internet marketing tactics poll for the next 6 months. Over 400 business marketers responded, making this the most popular poll Online Marketing Blog has run to-date. Readers were asked: What 3 internet marketing tactics will you emphasize most in the next 6 months?

Here are the results of the poll:

  • Search engine optimization (36%, 149 Votes)
  • Blogging (33%, 134 Votes)
  • Pay per click (26%, 107 Votes)
  • Email marketing (22%, 89 Votes)
  • Social networking (Facebook, LinkedIn) (21%, 86 Votes)
  • Blogger relations/blog PR (14%, 56 Votes)
  • Microblogging (Twitter, Plurk, Jaiku) (11%, 47 Votes)
  • Affiliate marketing (11%, 47 Votes)
  • Advertorial (NewsForce, AdFusion) (10%, 40 Votes)
  • Video marketing (7%, 29 Votes)

Search engine optimization, blogging and PPC taking the top 3 spots shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, although I wouldn’t have called them in that order.

One surprise is that “Corporate Web Site” received only 7% of the votes. An even more interesting result was that Advertorial was in the top ten. While AdFusion certainly falls in the advertorial category, NewsForce doesn’t consider itself advertorial, but rather “paid PR”. I personally don’t see the difference at the category level.

I suspect if “social media” had been presented as a single category, it would have garnered the top spot since social media tactics involve 5 of the top ten.

What do these poll results mean for internet marketers? First, SEO has achieved a comfort level for most marketers. Contrary to some mainstream media characterizations, search engine optimization is a high impact, high value tactic for reaching customers online.  Actually, search is about customers reaching/seeking companies, not the other way around.  With SEO, it isn’t a matter of “Should we?” it’s a matter of, “What’s stopping you?”.

Personally, I think those that incorporate long term engagement strategies via social media  rather than short online campaigns with definitive start/end dates will realize continued growth in their marketing programs regardless of the economic situation.  Social media tactics occupy 5 of the top ten spots. Social media is an ongoing relationship of listening, engaging and “giving to get”.

Search engine optimization factors into many aspects of social media (think keywords and tags!) along with being a highly effective tactic on it’s own.  Many of the marketers taking this poll realize that and have responded accordingly.

Do you agree that SEO should be online marketers’ top internet marketing tactic over the next 6 months?

Thank you to all the readers of Online Marketing Blog, our Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn networks for taking the poll!

You can see the poll with all 41 internet marketing tactics listed here.

PoorSo SoOKGoodAwesome (5 votes, average: 4.40 out of 5)

Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. SEO will continue to be something people focus on to drive their business. However, I completely agree with your statement:
    “I suspect if

  2. I’m not surprised about SEO being at the top, but I am a little (actually quite) surprised that social networking overtook video marketing.

    I also have a feeling that once marketers know how to obtain stats from twitter, that it will shoot it fast.

  3. Im also, happily though, surpriced by that fact that both social networking AND microblogging overtook video marketing.. That just proved that im not a liar to my clients :o)

    But, personally, i rank blogging over SEO, as SEO only can take you to a certain point, blogging is far more effective.. but of course the SEO has to be spot-on still..

  4. It looks like marketers are doing the same thing that consumers are – looking at less expensive methods for exposure. From my day-to-day analyses of SEO vs. PPC, SEO has improved for the past several weeks, while PPC has become more of a challenge. Don’t know if that is unique to our company / market, but wouldn’t be surprised.

  5. Great survey! If I had answered for my company http://tastynectar.com I would have put blogging and microblogging at the top of the list. These are huge for us.

  6. Thanks for the data Lee. Goodbye to static brochure sites. Long live recurrent content, the real SEO. Tag it and bag it baby.

  7. Search Engine Optimization should be the number one on the list. Most website visitors go through the search engines than any other method of finding content. Better website ROI is what is most important, even in slow times. Nothing beats SEO work on a website. I think video (VSEO) will be the big thing since Google is featuring media content more.

  8. I agree SEO should be top of the list, but I am absolutely biased so… I think a great drill down would be BtoB and BtoC as well as industry vertical. These polls are really a warm up for what we’ll start doing with “real” surveys at marketingblog.com.

    REALLY appreciating all the participation so far and hope it’s useful to other readers.

  9. Hey USWeb: How many single question polls ARE scientific? LOL. Glad you liked it anyway. 🙂

  10. Hi Lee. Great poll. I do think that microblogging especially Twitter should be higher and I think for many companies it is already (especially those based in the USA).

  11. Avatar Joshua Sciarrino says

    Good to see I’m not the only one saying it’s ‘unscientific’. 😀

    Given the fact that this was a poll given to bloggers, I totally understand why SEO is #1. With all the ‘seo’ plugins and all the quality traffic blogs get from Google, it’s obvious that bloggers will even know what SEO is, let alone say it’s the desired internet marketing tactic.

    Most people don’t even know what ‘SEO’ is. How do they vote for something they don’t know about?

    I think if this were an actual study, I think PPC would be #1 followed by email marketing. Since most businesses aren’t completely internet savvy as us, they will choose more traditional Internet Marketing tactics. 🙂

    Maybe even Email would be #1, who knows?

    But, aside from this sobering truth (unscientific-ness of the study. :P) I think it’s great that bloggers/some marketers are embracing SEO. Since there are hundreds of ‘snail oil’ sellers out there, it’s good to hear, not all is bad with SEO. The comfort level is growing and that’s the point of this post (I hope). Who knows, maybe 5-10 years from now it would be a solid #1 or something else could evolve from the amazing creativity the internet creates.

  12. Its about time people start looking at the value of seo and instead of pushing everything to them without understanding what they want.

    Entities big and small should start embracing the fact of “Letting the people / users decide for them, letting them do the testing from the on page content to everything they never thought of before”

    Rather than targeting the short term tactics which eventually fade outs once the buzz are gone

  13. Lee- 400 responsed is very impressive. I think video marketing is low based on most people feeling it is complicated and expensive. That’s the feedback we get. We try to explain how expensive PPC and other tactics (including SEO) are, but limited success with that argument so far.

  14. Another great poll, Lee. Frankly, I am surprised that SEO led the list. As a 12 yr SEO vet, I am still getting push-back from clients on SEO. We are trying to build SEO into all new Web development, instead of after the fact. We see more upside in SEO for PR communications (ie. Social Media News Release). Finally, SEO now is mostly about link relevancy, so are there specific programs around link development instead of the tired Meta tag/Web copy optimization?

  15. I agree with the first two = SEO and blogging – both of which I have ramped up in the last 3-4 months. As for PPC I have backed off as conversions were tanking because of the doubt and fear in the marketplace seemed to be freezing buyers from making a move. I like the idea of paid press releases and I have implemented an affiliate program in the last 3 months. keeping the business lean and getting more exposure are both priorities for me now.
    David Fairley
    President, websiteproperties.com

  16. Great stuff, Lee! I’m hoping that those who responded understand that SEO is more than just the technical aspects of it. To me, effective SEO is really a content strategy that would envelop blogging, microblogging, and other social media. More often than not those activities create the desired SEO/traffic results.

  17. Very useful information. SMS Marketing is also a great tool for tough economic times as it is cost effective and yields quick results

  18. I would have thought that PPC will be the #1 not necessairly because it is the best option but rather because in times of recession bringing some immediate results would be key. But certainly SEO is the wisest choice for a financially stable company

  19. A combination of both PPC and ethical search engine optimisation is in my opinion cost effective and efficient, depending on the compenies budget of course. If it is a newly formed business then PPC would be a better option due to the time it take to conduct ethical optimisation i.e. dont gain too many links too quickly or you may end up in the google sandbox.

    I didnt see fax marketing mentioned in the poll, which is a good marketing strategy to niche markets.

  20. I do indeed agree that SEO should be the in the top 6 tactics. The exception being, in my opinion, that the integral use of social media as a synergistic element to the SEO strategy could spell big trouble. As noted by Charles Heflin in his article entitled “I spotted Bigfoot on your website doing social marketing,”

    Google has its eyes set on social networks

  21. I too am surprised at the 7% but would have to see the question. Education will come with time and even though I think that 7% is low, it will certainly grow. Thanks for sharing..

  22. Its quite true that (SEO)Search Engine Optimization is #1 as it saves cost and is used for long term basis. Social networking is good but i think that most of the traffic that comes from Social is bulk traffic – still we can’t avoid it. But in terms of quality wise we can go for SEO, Blogging which is true and can be seen in voting.

    # Email marketing is an old concept so it would stay long forever.

    # PPC is great to experiment and analysis so it would stay long.

    # Video marketing would take much time though it can have an impact on brand marketing but will soon evolve in the coming times.

    Last but not the least i find SEO is the best way to leverage costs and gain exposure from Search Engines which can be converted to sales.

    Kudos to SEO!

  23. In response to this poll another has been created to better understand what stops businesses from going forward with SEO.

    Opinion Poll:

  24. Avatar John Bergman says

    Thanks for your article. As someone who is fairly new at internet marketing I’m encouraged to know I’m focused on the right areas. There is so much to learn and it is comforting to see evidence from a good size group of people answering a survey.

  25. Good article, looks like i'm a little late stopping by!


  26. Good article, looks like i'm a little late stopping by!


  27. Avatar Houston SEO says

    Yes you are correct! Organic results it a small fee compared to monthly 2,500 – 10,000.00 pay per clicks. SEO Companies should be able to capitalize on the bad economy. – http://www.SeoTopConsultant.comn


  1. Marketers To Quit Fiddling With Corporate Brochure Sites in 2009? - Scott Clark says:

    […] Odden posted a fascinating list of results from the TopRank Reader Poll which reached out to a large group of business marketers.

  2. SEO Tops Poll in Most Effective Recession Marketing Strategies says:

    […] very unscientific poll by Lee Odden on Toprankblog.com asked marketers which three (out of 41) Internet marketing tactics […]

  3. Top Recession Internet Marketing Tactics | VisInsights says:

    […] interesting post from Lee Odden’s Online Marketing Blog that warrants sharing with our audience in case anyone […]

  4. […] es el resultado de una encuesta que han realizado en Toprank a 400 responsables de marketing, en la que se les preguntaba cu

  5. […] recent poll by toprankasked 400 business marketers “What 3 Internet marketing tactics will you emphasize most in the […]

  6. […] a recent poll by TopRank identified SEO as the top recession internet marketing […]

  7. 3 Questions With Matt McGowan | SEMpdx Blog says:

    […] SEO tops recession digital marketing tactics and SES Chicago is the last opportunity of the year for marketers to brush up on their […]

  8. […] SEO Tops Recession Internet Marketing Tactics – Over 400 internet marketing professionals took this survey to identify the top Internet marketing tactics to focus on over the next 6 months and SEO came out on top. […]