Search engine optimization (SEO) plays an important role in digital marketing success and marketers are now more than ever willing to make it part of their marketing budget. Local market research firm Borrell Associates estimates that brands and agencies in the US will spend $65.26 billion this year for SEO services, increasing to $72.02 billion in 2018 and $79.27 billion by 2020. To explore which strategies will drive SEO success in the next 12 months market research firm Ascend2 conducted, in early November, a survey among 256 US marketing executives.
Half (50%) of marketing executives participating in the survey revealed that driving traffic to the company website was the most important SEO goal to achieve, followed by search rankings (43%). Obviously, these two SEO tactics are closely related as website traffic is driven in large part by search rankings.
Marketers rely on search engine optimization (SEO) to improve search rankings, website traffic, and lead generation. The survey data indicated that 8 in 10 (81%) survey participants felt they were successful or somewhat successful with their SEO strategy.
There are many barriers to SEO success, but achieving top search rankings was rated, by far, the most difficult SEO tactic by 46% of the marketing executives participating in the Ascend2 survey. A lack of top search rankings directly affects the ability to generate website traffic, the number one SEO goal of marketers.
Most Effective SEO Tactics
Creating relevant, quality content makes all the difference when it comes to SEO. The Ascend2 survey data indicates that content creation was considered the most effective SEO tactic among 75% of the survey participants, but also the most difficult to execute, with nearly 48% of participants saying so. The second most effective SEO tactic, keyword and phrase research (35%), proved to be much easier to execute; however, this stresses content’s importance again as these terms must relate to the content produced. The third most important SEO tactic to execute was social media integration.
Not surprisingly, putting resources toward link acquisition (36%) was rated high for achieving SEO effectiveness because it still has a major effect on the search rankings. However, it is also difficult to execute, as was stated by 45% of the survey participants. This again stresses the important of high quality, relevant content as this may generate natural backlinks.
More than a quarter (26%) of the survey participants rated properly written meta descriptions/tags as an important tactic to achieve their SEO goals. Interestingly, having the main keyword(s) in the page title seems to have lost importance. According to a recent Google search rankings, factors study released by Searchmetrics, just 53% of the top 20 URLs included the keyword in their title.
In total, 82% of marketing executives participating in the survey said overall SEO effectiveness was increasing with more than half of those (42%) describing the increase as significant. For 17%, SEO effectiveness had decreased.
In-house Versus Outsourced SEO
Creating relevant content and link building are difficult and time-consuming tactics for marketers to execute, which is why external SEO consultants and agencies can help marketers maximize SEO efforts and effectiveness. As such, 27% of Ascend2 survey participants outsourced all of their SEO tactics. Nearly half used a combination of outsourced and in-house resources and 24% only used in-house staff to execute their SEO tactics.