The State of the SEO Industry in 2012

SEOmoz LogoSEOmoz has released the results of their annual SEO Industry Survey. The results illustrate quite a few intriguing data points and trends. Let’s take a moment to cover off on the high points.

Top Services Provided by SEOs

The SEOmoz team sliced and diced the services question several ways, and I won’t delve into each of those angles individually (feel free to read the full writeup on their site if you are interested in the details). That said, the following service areas showed up the most frequently across the various questions:

  • Search Engine Optimization (surprise!)
  • Social Media / Community Management
  • Content Marketing
  • Analytics
  • Link-Building
  • Local SEO
  • Copywriting / Blogging / Writing

Content Marketing Vehicles

The report included a nice chart summarizing which types of content are getting the most attention and use. Rather than share the whole chart, here are the top 10 types of content on which SEOs are focusing:

  • Blog Posts
  • Social Media Content (Tweets, Likes, Posts, etc.)
  • Articles and Guides
  • Press Releases
  • eNewsletters
  • Images – Graphics and Photography
  • Video
  • Infographics
  • Polls and Surveys
  • White Papers

Interestingly enough, Audio and Podcasts have fallen out of favor for over 90% of respondents. If you’re spending a bunch of time on podcasts, do it for the community impact and not for any SEO benefit.

It is also surprising to see that old favorites like White Papers and Surveys are low on the list, as are Video and Infographics. The question remains whether these are no longer favored or too time consuming to prioritize among the other items, which are faster to build and use.

Observations from the “Top 5 Lists”

The report included several lists of “Top 5″ items in various categories. Here are the big findings among those lists:

  • Web Analytics: Google Analytics is far and above the favorite web analytics tool for the SEO industry, with 93% of us listing it as important. The next item on the list, WordPress stats, fell far behind at 16%. Enterprise analytics packages, such as Omniture and CoreMetrics, are not favored among this crowd.
  • Keyword ResearchGoogle AdWords and Google Insights were easily the top tools for keyword research, both making the list for over 58% of respondents. SEMrush fell far behind at 20%, followed by Wordtracker and Raven in the mid-teens.
  • Content Marketing and OutreachTwitter and LinkedIn stole the show at 74% and 53%. StumbleUpon was fourth place with 31% of respondents citing it in the study.
  • Conversion Rate Optimization: Google Website Optimizer, which has been replaced by Google Content Experiments very recently, was just about the only show in town, with 73% of respondents referencing it. I was surprised to see KISSmetrics in fifth place with only 8% mentioning it.

SEO Tools: Paid vs. Free Online Tools

The survey compared the top paid vs. the top free tools. I would just share the list, but since SEOmoz fielded the study, it is very skewed toward their offerings.

Other than SEOmoz, the top paid tools cited were:

Wordtracker and SpyFu were surprisingly very low on the list.

On the free tools side, the top five other than SEOmoz were:

Both Xenu and SEObook Tools fell just below Yahoo Site Explorer in popularity, so they are worth mentioning just to be thorough.

Other Tidbits and Loose Ends

The survey covered off the top social media platforms. I found nothing surprising in the list, with Facebook and Twitter leading a pack of well-known social media services. Pinterest did come in at #7 overall, further illustrating how well that site has taken hold since its rather recent unveiling.

Salary was the topic of the final chart, and it basically showed a large range of salaries paid to SEOs. The common theme was that owners and in-house SEOs make more money on average than agency or consultancy employees.

Summary

With economic struggles the past few years, it is refreshing to see that the SEO industry is alive and well, and still has a bright future. Technical SEO is becoming more complicated and requires specialized support to do right. Social is growing in importance. And Analytics are starting to become a mainstay for a larger percentage of the industry.

For more information, view a presentation by Rand Fishkin and Dharmesh Shah of Hubspot.

How do these numbers stack up against the work you are doing? Would you generally agree with the findings, or do you have a different opinion?