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Search marketing budgets increase despite Google keyword roadblock

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2nd Jun 2014
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More than half of businesses plan to increase their search marketing budgets over the next year, according to a new research report from Econsultancy and digital marketing agency, Latitude.

The eighth annual UK Search Engine Marketing Benchmark Report found a number of insightful statistics about the current state of play in the search and SEO market, including that not only are 58% of businesses planning to increase their budgets for search over the coming 12 months, but that over 30% of marketers feel Google provides their greatest ‘obstacle’, in its stance on withholding keyword data.

The opinion on Google is hardly surprising given that a marketers were up in arms about the keyword decision when it was announced in autumn last year, but it is seemingly a mere grovel in an industry that otherwise still sees search as integral to future marketing spend.

Econsultancy’s research found that 60% of companies are increasing their budgets for conversion rate optimisation, with more than 55% of companies surveyed declaring they are currently spending at least £50,000 a year on paid search, up from 51% last year.

Paid search now constitutes 26% of total marketing budget, compared to 24% in 2013. SEO has dropped from 18% to 14%. Meanwhile, social now accounts for 9% of budget, with display also accounting for 10%.

“Companies are becoming increasingly savvy about the folly of spending more on search marketing without simultaneously investing in conversion rate optimisation,” says Econsultancy’s research director, Linus Gregoriadis.

“Mobile optimisation is a particular area of focus with many companies eager to make the most of increased traffic coming via smartphones and tablets.”

Common issues exist in executing successful search marketing campaigns, however. Only 36% of companies stated that they have “a definite tracking solution to measure consistently across different digital channels”, which is once again a nod to Google’s keyword encryption limitations.

Marketers also feel they are struggling to track the return on investment (ROI) from paid search and SEO effectively, with only 44% of companies say they can measure paid search ROI, down from 53% in 2013.

While some organisations are dedicating more resources towards improving their analytics capabilities, only 39% of companies are planning on investing in analytics, suggesting that spending on analytics is failing to keep pace with investment in marketing channels such as search, social and display.

“What is different this year however is the encouraging number of companies realising the value of Conversion Rate Optimisation, which speaks volumes in regards to companies aiming to ensure that most is being made out of traffic driven to their websites,” says Latitude’s managing director, Richard Gregory.

“That said, it’s surprising to see the investment in analytics is falling behind spend on other marketing channels such as search and display. This could, at least in part, explain why companies struggle to measure impact on their marketing investment.”

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