British marketers have ramped up their investment in paid search and SEO (search engine optimisation) techniques this year as the economy has emerged tentatively from recession, according to research published by Econsultancy and digital agency Guava.
The UK Search Engine Marketing Benchmark Report noted that the proportion of marketers saying they plan to increase spending on search engine optimisation (SEO or natural search) over the next year has increased to 60% from 55% last year.
Pay-per-click search advertising is also buoyant, with 52% of companies planning to raise their budgets for paid search over the next 12 months compared to only 45% who said they would do so in 2009.
But, while the majority of companies are increasing their search budgets, only 14% said they are planning to decrease their paid search spending and only 4% plan to spend less on SEO.
According to Econsultancy's UK research director, Linus Gregoriadis, "Search marketing was pretty resilient during the recession but there has nonetheless been a marked increase in both SEO and paid search investment this year. Companies continue to report an increased media cost for paid search, and in particular for Google AdWords, but this has not stopped the majority of companies increasing their Google investment."
Some 60% of marketers said they were investing more in Google than they were a year ago, compared to only 10% who were spending less. More than two thirds (69%) of search advertisers using Google said that prices for the keywords they routinely bid on had gone up in the past year, and an even higher proportion of agencies (71%) said this was the case.
The study, which was based on a survey of 500 client-side marketers and agencies, also found that 65% of companies are planning to increase their spending on social media marketing over the next 12 months, an increase from 48% in 2009.
Search marketers are increasingly focusing on social media marketing because of the opportunities to increase traffic and links. More than half of companies (56%) are planning to boost social media budgets by more than 20%, while 15% are planning to increase their social media spending by more than 100%.
According to Guava's sales director, Martin Dinham, "There were some interesting sub-trends identified as well, most notably the rise of social media and the high proportion of paid search users who continue to rely on manual management of their campaigns."
Other key findings from the report included:
- The majority of companies (83%) carrying out search engine marketing pay to advertise on Google, although this figure dropped 2% since last year. Use of Yahoo has declined more sharply, from 44% last year (and 49% in 2008) to 36% this year.
- Microsoft, which launched Bing last year, has fared better. Just over one third of companies (34%) now use its search engine for paid search compared to 30% last year.
- Most companies (81%) now market themselves on Twitter, arguably making this the most widely used social media web site for marketing, and putting it slightly ahead of Facebook (78%). The proportion of companies who say they use Twitter for marketing has increased sharply from 49% in 2009, and only 3% in 2008.
- Less than half of companies (45%) carrying out paid search marketing are using a third party bid management technology for their PPC (pay per click) activity.
The full report can be purchase directly from Econsultancy's web site.