30% of companies are using local search as a marketing tool, while a further 21% plan to do so in future, according to Econsultancy’s latest UK Search Engine Marketing Benchmark Report.

The report, based on an online survey of more than 600 client-side digital marketers and agencies, was produced in association with Guava.

Here are a few highlights from the report… 

Local search

According to agency respondents, 22% of their clients‟ budget is spent on locally targeted paid search. This compares with 17% for the companies surveyed.

We asked the same questions of US respondents in our SEMPO State of Search Report, and found that a greater proportion of US PPC budgets are allocated to local search (37% for agency respondents and 23% for clients). 

This can be at least partly explained by the sheer size of the US, which makes localisation more important, but I think we will see more of a focus on local search in the UK to coincide with the growth of smartphone usage. 

Mobile search strategies

As with local search, the growing importance of mobile is shown by the increase in proportion of PPC budget allocated to mobile search. 

The proportion of companies using mobile search as part of their marketing strategy has doubled from 8% in last year’s report to 16% this year. 

A further 45% are planning to invest in mobile search. A third of agencies (34%) say their clients are typically involved with mobile search, a significant increase from 22% last year.

Only 2% of client-side paid search budget is spent on mobile search, while supply-side respondents say the average for their clients is 5%.

Google Instant

There has been plenty of discussion about the possible impact of Google Instant on search marketing since it was introduced last year, but the majority of respondents (agency and client-side) have not noticed a significant impact. 

The majority of companies (62%) say that Google Instant has had no noticeable impact on campaigns, while 29% say it has had a minor effect. Just 9% report a significant impact.

Has Google Instant affected search campaigns? 

Investment in search engines and PPC platforms

67% of advertisers have increased their budget for Google over the past 12 months, compared to just 12% who have reduced their spending. 

The majority of client-side marketers say that, over the last year, their companies have also increased their PPC investment in Facebook (65%), LinkedIn (62%), YouTube (55%) and Twitter (54%).

Investment in search engines and PPC platforms:

Outsourcing of SEO and PPC

While the SEMPO State of Search report found an increase in the number of companies outsourcing SEO and PPC, the UK report finds that the proportion of companies using an agency for paid search has declined from 31% last year to 26% in the most recent survey. 

For SEO, there has been a very small increase in the number of companies using an agency for all of their organic search activity, from 16% to 17% this year.