It’s been a big week for the search marketing world. Only two days ago Google announced the UK launch of Panda – a big change to it’s algorithm that will, in theory, favour good Google abiding websites and penalise those who publish, or ‘farm’ duplicate content.

It’s very early days so the full implications of Panda are yet to be seen, but it’s due to effect a lot of site’s Google page rank and change the way some people approach their search marketing.

In a week of search orientated news, we thought we’d keep up the trend by sharing a report that was published yesterday by Econsultancy. The State of Search Marketing Report 2011 revealed some interesting insights in to the future of search marketing and the over all objectives of those who participate in it.

We’ve picked out a few points that caught our attention, but by no means are these a complete summary of the report.

The report suggests that the number of companies engaging in search marketing has been on the decline for the past three years. The latest statistics no exception, showing a two percent drop from 2010.

This decline is believed to be down to the fact that some companies believe that their sites already contain good content, so are therefore optimised and need no further attention. it’ll be interesting to see how many of these opinions change once Panda starts working it’s magic.

The respondents were asked to share their SEO objectives and the results were, in this order;

1. Drive traffic (42%)

2. Generate leads (29%)

3. Sales (18%)

This shows that more people are coming to terms with the fact that on-site optimisation has a great deal more to with conversions than lead generation does in general – the term ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink’ comes to mind.

When asked the same question of paid search, the response was as follows;

1. Generate leads (40%)

2. Sales (35%)

3. Drive traffic (19%)

Other factors such as brand awareness and customer service were deemed much less important.

Respondents were also asked to share their social media objectives, perhaps the least predictable of the three disciplines. The results were;

1. Brand awareness / reputation (51%)

2. Customer service (34%)

3. Generate leads (12%)

When compared to 2010 there’s a clear shift in social media expectations, with much less emphasis being put on sales, but more on customer service and brand exposure.

Interestingly only 4% deemed direct sales as a social media objective. Perhaps the impending rise of social-commerce will boost these results come 2012.

Respondents were asked to reveal their greatest challenges in managing and measuring SEO.

It was revealed that the biggest challenge for companies and agencies is measuring return on investment. Other challenges included optimising destination pages, keyword choice and keeping up with search engines’ ever changing algorithm’s.

Other key findings

  • Mobile internet is a trend deemed to have the most impact on search marketing, with more 79% of respondents considering it  ‘highly significant’
  • Just under half of recipients said that local search continues to play a major part in search marketing. Agencies claim that clients’ allocate 34% of budget to local advertising
  • Social media continues to grow. The number of company respondents using Facebook for marketing is up 11% on last year
  • Three-quarters of company respondents use Twitter
  • Half of company respondents use LinkedIn, 27% use the site for paid search exclusively
  • Less companies are practicing social media and SEO in-house. The report shows significant drops from last year
  • 54% of companies expect to spend more on SEO this year. 10% expect to spend less
  • Google continues to dominate the market with 95% of respondents claiming to use Google Adwords to advertise
  • Facebook continues to challenge Google – just under half of all respondents say they use Facebook for PPC campaigns

Market valuation

It’s estimated by Econsultancy & SEMPO that the search engine marketing industry will grow by 16% in 2011.

They base this estimate on several factors taken from the report;

  • The growth of Google and the Microsoft & Yahoo Search Alliance
  • The increased investment in to search engine marketing
  • Increased spend on Facebook advertising
  • More investment in search-related technology

The extent to which Google’s latest algorithm changes impact the market is yet to be seen and the ‘rise’ of social-commerce is certainly a topic for debate, but all considered, it looks like a good year ahead for search engine marketing.

Please be aware that the information above is a very brief overview of an extremely detailed report. To download this report in full, visit