Search marketing hub site SEOmoz recently released the results of a survey of more than 3,000 search marketers covering demographics, practices, tools used and other topics. Their article, The SEO Industry Survey Results, by SEOmoz staff members Nick Gerner, Rebecca Kelley, Jeff Pollard and Rand Fishkin, provides an excellent summary of the results, so I won't rehash all of that here, but rather offer just a few observations on some of the more surprising findings.
You Can't Win if You Don't Play
More than half of respondents reported that their company either doesn't use PPC advertising at all or spends less than than $500 per month on paid search advertising. That's about what would be expected from a survey of the general business population, but considering that the respondents to this survey were all search marketing professionals, that figure is astounding. How can that many companies not understand the cost-effectiveness and inherent measurabilty of SEM?
You Get What You Pay For
At first glance, the income figures reported seem absurdly low, but this result is skewed by the global nature of the respondents. However, even when looking at the geographic breakout of income levels, it's surprising to discover that even in the U.S., 10% of search marketers make $30,000 or less, nearly half earn less than $60,000 per year, and roughly 60% take home $75,000 or less annually.
Search marketing is strategic. Your website is very often the first, or at least the second, impression that your prospects get of your organization. A crappy website reflects poorly on a company. A website that can't be found is even worse. I've seen (and been asked to fix) $30,000-per-year SEO; it isn't pretty, and worse, it isn't effective.
I Like Your Website, But Not Really
Most disturbing of all was that roughly 50% of respondents—both in-house and consultants—"recommend the use of the nofollow attribute for links." The nofollow tag is possibly the most insidious bit of HTML code ever devised; it should be banished from the global standard for the language, or at the very least ignored by search engine algorithms.
Nofollow is the online equivalent of "I don't want to date you, but can we still be friends?" No, it doesn't work that way. Either give XYZ Company a real link from your website, or don't bother.
Their tools may be elegant though overpriced, but the SEOmoz survey makes great and informative reading.
Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom