SEO Investments Expected To Grow More Than 20%
The report, "Search Marketing Trends: Back to Basics," suggests that growth will decline for paid search from 15.9% in 2009 to 11.3% in 2013--while SEO growth will jump from 17.7% to 20.3%, respectively.
"Every company is losing some business because of the economy, whether they buy less, or not at all," said David Hallerman, eMarketer senior analyst. "There is a greater focus on customer acquisition. Search is the best tool for that."
Internet users generally find organic listings more relevant than paid search ads, so they tend to click on the search engine results more often than pay-per-click (PPC) ads, Hallerman said. But marketers should design campaigns that combine paid search advertising and SEO.
Overall, U.S. spending on search engine marketing will nearly double from $12.2 billion in 2008 to $23.4 billion in 2013. All four types of search marketing will gain more marketer dollars each year.
Successful deployment of both methods could mean higher rankings in search query results. Each offers benefits. For example, paid search's effects are immediate, but marketers need to spend consistently for those sponsored-link ads to appear in search results. SEO effects take time, but marketers need Web site maintenance more than daily spending to sustain high organic results. How long it takes to deliver a return on investments (ROI) depends on conversions, Hallerman said.
While lots of data makes search more accountable than other ad media, too much data could overwhelm marketers and create confusion that clouds decisions, according to Hallerman. More important, the abundance of data makes Web analytics crucial for managing the process.
While marketers might see increased traffic as positive, if the search ad's cost relative to its conversion rate means a reduced bottom line, the marketer would need to examine the strategy, including bids on certain keywords, keywords to bid on, and the search engine to place ads on.
"Far more marketers say SEO is much harder to gauge because it has far less metrics," Hallerman said. "SEO is like public relations. You hope people will notice and buy the product. It's a lot like tracking buzz."