The Secrets of Successful Search Marketers Revealed [Study]

The Secrets of Successful Search Marketers Revealed [Study]

For the first time in the industry, a Conductor study of 380 Search Marketers discovered how best-in-class practice SEO.  The research showed there to be distinct differences in how best-in-class create content, report on search metrics, and evangelize SEO in their organizations.

Gather 100 SEOs in a room and poll them as to what makes a ‘successful SEO’ and you are likely to get around 200 answers.  Some would point to knowing the latest jargon, some would cite the best content creators while others would cite those among them who are the best data jockies.

It is with this backdrop of little industry consensus on what makes a successful SEO, and with the knowledge that historically, as emerging industries evolve and mature they establish ‘best-in-class’ standards that help guide the industry, that the Research Team at Conductor set out to answer, once and for all “what makes a successful SEO?”.

Answering this question is less about who we might crown the best among us, than it is about learning about how best-in-class practice SEO so that we might apply the learnings to our own success.

Mining for ‘Best-in-Class’

To answer the question, we surveyed 380 search marketers from a broad representation of B2B, B2C, Manufacturers, Publishers, and Agencies.  Best-in-class SEOs were segmented from the base respondent pool by identifying those who:

  • Self-identified as “highly successful at SEO”
  • Were significantly more likely (3x) to experience up to 200% search traffic growth in the last twelve months
  • Were significantly more likely (3x) to experience up to 200% search conversions growth in the last twelve months

We surveyed respondents across a wide breadth of topics related to how they practice SEO. Analysis showed best-in-class cited three core areas as being particularly crucial to their search success:

  • Content
  • Reporting
  • Education & Evangelism
  • Business Intelligence
  • Traffic
  • Conversions
  • Executive Buy-in
  • Headcount
  • Technology

For this reason, we focused in greater detail on how they do these three things in the research study.

Key findings include:

  • Budget and Headcount Matter—But Are Not the Sole Determinants of Natural Search Success Some Might Believe Them to Be:
    Budget and headcount matter when it comes to natural search success in the organization but not as much as the industry might think. Only 43% of best-in-class SEOs have more than10% of their organizations overall marketing budget allocated to SEO, compared to 18% of ‘laggards.’
  • Best-in-class Have an Evangelism mindset:
    Best-in-class are 2x more likely to cite executive and organizational evangelism as critical to their natural search success. As a result, they are also 2x more likely to have executive buy-in than laggards.
  • Early SEO Involvement in Content Creation is Critical:
    Laggards are 3x more likely to only be involved at the end of their organization’s content creation process (as opposed to the beginning).
  • For Best-in-Class, Reporting is the Lifeblood of their Digital Marketing:
    Laggards are 3x more likely to be doing only basic reporting (e.g. basic rank tracking) while best-in-class engage in advanced reporting techniques such as data mash-ups and keyword segmentation.

Research Points the Way to Best-in-Class
Our comprehensive research of what makes a best-in-class SEO, the first of its kind in the industry, found that there are distinct differences in the ways best-in-class create content, report SEO metrics and evangelize SEO.  Download the full research study to find out what else we learned about how the best in the business practice SEO and the steps you can take to soon count yourself among the best-in-class.

About Nathan Safran

Nathan is the Director of Research at Conductor and leads Conductor’s research and content team. Nathan is a monthly columnist at Search Engine Land and Search Engine Watch. Nathan’s research on digital marketing has been widely covered in both industry publications and mainstream media such as Techcrunch, Venture Beat and the Washington Post. Prior to joining Conductor, Nathan was an analyst at Forrester Research.

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