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Search Engine Marketing Mid-Year Check-in

Search Blog chart/LookSmart

Small-and-medium size businesses rely more on search engine marketing these days, despite complaints by some advertisers that keyword prices for pay-per-click (PPC) advertising continue to rise. Without formally surveying companies we can identify an increase by tracking the number of office and job openings throughout the world by companies like WebVisible and 360i. And while the news of these events provide empirical data, findings in recent studies from BIA/Kelsey and LookSmart provide insight into how much growth is occurring.

More than half, 53%, of small and medium-size business advertisers that invest a higher amount on search marketing services spend more than $25,000 annually on media advertising and promotions, up from 28% during the third quarter last year, according to a BIA/Kelsey survey conducted during the second quarter 2010.

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About 62% of the same group of SMBs rely on SEO in the most recent survey, though core SMB advertisers who spend on average between $2,000 and $3,000 annually do, too. The research firm suggests the core group spending less also looks toward SEO as a cost-effective marketing strategy.

BIA/Kelsey suggests SMBs spending a higher amount use more types of online media and spend more for online advertising. In the past 12 months, this group spent 26% of their total ad budget on online media, compared with 21.8% for the core group. There's a similar pattern in a LookSmart SEM-related survey conducted during the first half of August.

Many of the 2,500 SMBs running campaigns through LookSmart invest up to a little more than $2,000 daily.

When asked the top places where they find information on PPC products, services or partner, 57% of survey participates admit turning toward the traditional search engines Google, Bing and Yahoo. Meanwhile, 33% turn toward popular industry Web sites, newsletters and blogs; and 10% to social sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Most survey participants admitted to working with several search partners, including engines, networks and management companies. In fact, 49% said they work with two or three; 25%, four or five; 18%, more than six; 8%, one; the remainder filled in the blank, which did not indicate a number.

Naturally, 63% of advertisers consider return on investment the most important piece of a PPC campaign; followed by 53%, traffic quality; 23%, ease of use; 18%, platform capabilities; 13%, customer service; 2%, other.

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