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Survey: SEO Least Popular Strategy for Enterprise Digital Marketers

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Search engine optimization (SEO) has evolved over the years, with many people pronouncing it “dead” periodically. Regardless of the label we use, digital presence management and optimization for search remains a critical marketing tactic.

In the past 20 years SEO has dramatically changed and become more complex as the market has shifted. Maybe the term itself is somewhat outdated. But to say it doesn’t matter is to minimize the importance of search and maps — especially in mobile.

A recent survey from Clutch (of 500 marketers with more than 100 employees) yielded some curious results (h/t David Mihm). Among them, SEO is not being used by many medium-to-large digital marketers. The following are the top 6 digital channels according to the survey:

  1. Social media
  2. Website
  3. Email marketing
  4. Display ads
  5. Mobile app
  6. Content marketing

Clutch says that among the choices in the survey, “the least popular digital marketing channel businesses invest in is SEO.” In addition, paid search doesn’t appear to be there either. Clutch offers two explanations for why SEO is so poorly ranked in its survey:

  • Businesses lack awareness about how SEO functions.
  • SEO results aren’t immediately obvious.

But these aren’t SMBs; they’re businesses with more than 100 and up to 5,000 employees. Most of them have greater than $50 million in annual revenue. So what’s going on?

Do you think these results reflect the reality of the market? Have many enterprise marketers simply given up on SEO; or do you believe, as the Clutch explanation suggests, that they simply don’t understand it? (Content marketing supports SEO, however.)

Finally, the survey says that 83% of these marketers “think their digital marketing efforts are effective in reaching their goals,” which are mostly sales, but also awareness. That finding has got to reflect a misunderstanding as well.

How can these marketers be reaching their sales goals without a coherent search strategy (paid and/or organic)? What do you think is going on?

Just under three-fourths of these survey respondents were from B2C companies and the rest were B2B marketers. It’s not clear how many respondents are pure e-commerce vs. omni-channel sellers or service providers.

3 Responses to “Survey: SEO Least Popular Strategy for Enterprise Digital Marketers”

  1. Robert says:

    I dislike selling SEO. It can be so hit and miss. It takes a long time to show results plus the results can be suspect. The worst part is how some businesses can spend thousands a month and seem to get nowhere whereas some businesses spend nothing and still get to the first page of Google.

    The trend is definitely towards Social in particular and the other 5 items on the list. I’m not sure why SEM is not there. Perhaps it is number 7.

  2. Greg Sterling says:

    Yes. Can’t explain the SEM omission. Perhaps SEO needs a new name that makes it easier to sell and understand, such as “digital presence management,” a phrase already in use.

  3. charu sharma says:

    SEO has become a little less favorite in the recent times of search engine. I agree with the content written above. Thanks for sharing.

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