Marketers are focusing on integration of search marketing with other digital channels and disciplines such as display advertising and content marketing, according to research published by Econsultancy and NetBooster.
The proportion of UK companies now either fully or partially integrating paid search and display advertising has increased to 58% from only 34% last year.
The research also found that 59% of companies are now integrating their search engine optimisation (SEO) activity with their content strategy, while a further 12% say their SEO 'drives their content strategy'.
"One key trend identified by the research is the emergence of content marketing as a focal point for many organisations," said Amy Rodgers, research analyst for Econsultancy. "A content strategy has become an integral part of SEO, with a focus on the synergy between creative, content production, online PR and search engine marketing."
Agencies are responding to the trend toward integration of different marketing activities, with more than half of agencies (52%) now offering a full range of digital marketing services, an increase an increase from 45% in 2012 and 42% in 2011.
The study also found that Google's introduction of 'Enhanced Campaigns' for AdWords has been met with a mixed response in the world of search marketing, with confusion (and polarisation of survey respondents) around whether or not this will actually help rather than hinder marketers trying to target effectively. Enhanced Campaigns, introduced earlier this year, means that the structuring of AdWords campaigns is becoming device independent. From now on, advertisers will no longer have the ability to have specific mobile, tablet or desktop targeted campaigns.
According to the survey, 29% of client-side marketers think that Enhanced Campaigns will have a positive impact on their search marketing activity, compared to 14% who said that it will have a negative effect. But more than half (56%) of respondents said they didn't know what the impact would be, reflecting confusion in the marketplace about its implications.
The research also found that some marketers are struggling to adapt to Google algorithm updates such as Penguin and Panda. Anecdotal feedback suggested an increased demand for penalty recovery services as a result.
"While the shifting SEO sands represent an opportunity for some agencies, frustrations around constant changes to search algorithms are identified by many respondents as a main factor affecting their ROI from search engine marketing," concluded Rodgers.
The full report has been made available for purchase directly from the Econsultancy web site - click here.