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There is a newer version of this report available: SEMPO State of Search Marketing Report 2013


The State of Search Marketing Report 2012, produced by Econsultancy in association with SEMPO, looks in-depth at how companies are using paid search, search engine optimization (natural search) and social media marketing.

The report, which also contains a marketplace valuation, follows a survey of nearly 900 respondents from both companies (client-side advertisers) and agencies, collected in May and June of 2012.

The findings cover spending, current challenges, use of specific search engines and emerging trends across paid search, SEO and social media. The study, SEMPO's eighth annual State of Search Marketing Report, also contains year-on-year trends and breakouts of company and agency findings in each section.

The 72-page report includes the following sections:

  • Significance of different trends and technologies
  • Paid search, SEO and social media marketing (which types of marketing are companies and agencies engaging in?)
  • Objectives and metrics
  • Budgets
  • Search engines (including information specifically about Google, Bing and Yahoo) 
  • Social media and search marketing trends
  • Resourcing and outsourcing

Key findings include:

  • Changes to the Google algorithm affected a large percentage of marketers, or at least has them concerned. 87% call the updates of the last 12-18 months “significant or highly significant.” In most cases marketers feel the overall effect to be positive, but success in combating SEO spam sites has come at the expense of many legitimate brands.
  • The rise of the mobile internet is still keeping search marketers up at night, with 88% describing it as “significant or highly significant” up from 79% in 2011.
  • Integration and attribution - these two goals permeate this year's research. With paid search the largest part of many digital budgets, marketers want to understand its overall impact, its interactions with other marketing channels and its effect on the whole customer journey.
  • Other growing challenges include obtaining budget and hiring/recruiting talent. The first is an issue for PPC oriented marketers trying to keep pace in competitive sectors as well as those looking to improve on the technology and tools of search.
  • Some companies who experimented with Facebook PPC in 2010/2011 seem to be reevaluating. The 2012 survey shows a drop in those reporting they regularly mount PPC campaigns on the social giant, down from 74% to 56%. However, this doesn’t mean a drop in total spending, as those no longer using the service fall toward the SMB end of the spectrum. It’s to be expected that there will be continued volatility in usage of Facebook for PPC campaigns as the product evolves.
  • Digital continues to be a bright spot in marketing, and within it, SEM and social shine. A whopping 86% of respondents predict digital budget growth, up from 77% in 2011, with 37% calling that growth “significant.” Remarkably, only 4% predict a reduction in digital budgets.

Table of contents

  1. Executive Summary and Highlights
  2. Introduction by SEMPO
  3. Methodology and Sample
    1. Methodology
    2. Respondent profiles
  4. Findings
    1. Significance of different trends and technologies
    2. Factors in new channel adoption
  5. SEO, Paid Search, and Social Media
  6. Objectives and metrics
    1. Ability to calculate ROI
    2. Objectives for search engine optimization
    3. Objectives for paid search
    4. Objectives for social media marketing
    5. Metrics for measuring search engine optimization
    6. Metrics for measuring paid search marketing
    7. Metrics for measuring social media marketing
  7. Budgets
    1. Direction of digital marketing budgets
    2. Budget for search engine optimization in 2012
    3. Change in budgets for search engine optimization
    4. Expected search engine optimization billings
    5. Budget for paid search in 2012
    6. Change in budgets for paid search
    7. Flexibility in paid search budgeting
    8. Expected paid search billings
    9. Proportion paid to SEM service providers
    10. Budget for social media marketing in 2012
    11. Change in social media spend
    12. Expected social media billings
  8. Search engines
    1. Web properties used for PPC advertising
    2. Change in investment in search engines
    3. Return on investment from search engines
  9. Social media and search marketing alignment
    1. Use of social and search marketing activity
    2. Impact of social media on search marketing
    3. Use of social media sites
  10. Resourcing and outsourcing
    1. Employees with responsibility for search engine marketing
    2. Search engine optimization service provision
    3. Paid search marketing service provision
    4. Social media marketing service provision
    5. Use of technology for paid search
    6. Use of technology for paid search
    7. Typical fee structure for search engine optimization
    8. Typical fee structure for paid search marketing
    9. Typical fee structure for social media marketing
    10. Challenges for managing search engine optimization
    11. Challenges for managing paid search marketing
    12. Challenges for managing social media marketing
  11. Appendix: Respondent Profiles
    1. Respondent titles
    2. Business sector
    3. Business focus
    4. Marketing channel usage by organization type
    5. Type of organization
    6. Type of agency
    7. Geography
    8. Size of company by revenue
    9. Size of company by number of employees


  • Pdf SAMPLE: State of Search Marketing Report 2012 (771 KB PDF)
  • Pdf Disabled SEMPO State of Search Marketing Report 2012 (1.88 MB PDF)

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