Is Search Still Worth It? - eMarketer
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Is Search Still Worth It?

The SEO effect is great, but gauging ROI is tough.

October 23, 2007

Search marketing budgets are set to increase in 2008, according to MarketingSherpa's "Search Marketing Benchmark Survey."

Responding marketers said they planned to increase their pay-per-click budgets by at least 11% in 2008. One-third of search marketers whose spending was average said they planned to do so on Google AdWords. Respondents rated both PPC and search engine optimization as effective search marketing tactics. "Just as the personal nature of word of mouth makes it one of the most accepted forms of marketing among consumers, so is search engine optimization, a somewhat stronger tactic for increasing ROI than is paid search advertising," said David Hallerman, senior analyst at eMarketer.

"That's because for SEO, as with word of mouth, the absence of overt marketing cues makes it a more powerful influencer," he said. "At the same time, the more subtle nature of SEO makes it harder for marketers to gauge than more traditional direct response media such as e-mail or paid search."

Categories of Search Engines on which US Search Marketers Plan Pay-per-Click (PPC) Budget Increases Next Year, by Search Spending, June-July 2007 (% of respondents in each group)

MarketingSherpa said that most of the budgets were growing because search marketers thought that keyword prices would go up, according to Stefan Tornquist, the company's research director.

"The concern over rising prices has been ongoing, but it's reached a new high," Mr. Tornquist said in a Search Engine Watch article.

Respondents ranked SEO as the second most effective tactic behind house e-mail marketing.

ROI for Select Marketing Tactics according to US Search Marketers, June-July 2007 (% of respondents)

SEO spending is past due for some marketers, judging by an August 2007 study by Oneupweb. While one-fifth of the top 100 US online retailer Websites were well optimized, more than one-quarter were not optimized at all.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of the Top 100 US Online Retailer Websites, 2004, 2005 & 2007 (% of total)

See how your search spending compares. Please read eMarketer's Search Marketing: Counting Dollars and Clicks report.

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