SEO – who knows what we’re doing?

Mathew Quilter  

April 06, 2008

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So I used this weekend to make inroads into a growing backlog of online marketing articles, deleting many from notable figures that have surprisingly little to offer but also noting a number that are worth describing and debating in this forum.

One piece in particular caught my attention because in large part it describes the state on online marketing perhaps more effectively than most pieces I’ve seen. It comes to us courtesy of Marketing Profs. Periodically they run surveys where they gauge best practices in the online marketing world, but in this case they surveyed marketing professionals and asked them about their familiarity with and adoption of SEO practices to drive Web traffic. The results were compelling and telling and reveal the rather poor understanding of SEO even within the very industry that ought to be driving it. A few results from the MarketingProfs survey that polled a group of self-described corporate marketers (66%) and consultants (32%):

How long have they been using SEO?
27% don’t bother with SEO
22% have been at it less than a year
24% somewhere between 1-2 years

When asked what would it replace today,
42% of respondents said SEO funding would likely replace online advertising in the way of banners, newsletters and ads.

As for the major challenges they encounter,
48% say they have difficulty demonstrating any results, and
43% are not properly staffed

And although most (83%) cite improvements to their website as their largest Web marketing efforts,
47% of the respondents do not think they use SEO effectively to drive traffic to those very websites.

Lastly, perhaps not surprising given the state of the practice,
44% don’t know whether SEO is having any impact on marketing ROI

It seems puzzling that there is still a fog hanging over SEO, that it’s value is still a mystery to many who ought to understand it well when an increasing percentage of marketing funds are making their way online.