A recent survey conducted by Digital Media firm Guava on trends of the 2010 UK search industry, added weight to the general coconscious that in the aftermath of the tough financial climate in 2009, businesses are looking to expand their search budgets for SEM and take a cautious step towards Social Media Marketing.
A copy of the 2010 search trends report is available from the Guava site.
Paid Search Services:
Keyword research still leads the list of paid search activity with 77% of clients actively researching keywords prior to running paid search campaigns. A worrying statistic, leaving 23% of businesses are relying on other means to establish a paid search strategy.
Up 10% and 11% respectively was contextual advertising and competitor research as advertisers look to exploit gaps in an increasingly competitive market place and look to utilise new, cheaper mediums for paid search display.
Organic Search Services
Again keyword research topped the charts with 69% of companies researching terms before they create an SEO campaign. Surprisingly this was up 12%, suggesting in a tough financial climate, businesses are becoming more aware of the benefit of putting long term SEO strategies in place.
Social media consultation was an activity only 35% of people sought, suggesting the ineffective way of measuring an ROI on social media platforms is preventing businesses from committing reduced budgets to social media projects.
That said social media marketing was one area of the search market that record substantial growth with 59% of companies partaking in social media marketing in 2010, up 25% on 2009.
Interestingly the local search market has reached a plateau, even with Google’s quest for both personalised and regionalised search results. Shopping comparison site also saw a reduction of 1%, down to 26%.
The hard times are over
With 60% of companies looking to increase their organic search budget in 2010 and 52% their paid budgets, we are moving into a period where both markets will become increasingly competitive.
With 49% and 22% of companies intending to spend over £50k in 2010 on paid and organic search respectively, and more importantly significantly more are looking at medium budgets above £5k, it’s clear that businesses are looking to further expand excising organic search strategies. Could this be that they have proved a welcome safety net in hard times and businesses are waking up to their true value, especially in lean times where paid search budgets are pruned.
72% of companies do still however look at SEO as a means to drive traffic to a website. With 54% of companies partaking in paid search looking to convert directly into direct sales, it seems that there is a misconception about how valuable target organic traffic can be to a site. With a typical conversion rate 50% higher than paid search, businesses still regard ‘free organic traffic’ as a ‘catch all’ as opposed to targeted sales generation tool.
This is again very different for social media where a huge 72% of companies see social media projects as nothing more than a brand building exercise. Again it seems the harsh reality of not being able to determine and ROI is preventing companies from viewing social media as a credible medium for sales generation.
Poorly converting websites and lack of internal resource is still the biggest barrier to paid and organic search marketing. For social networks 43% of retailers deem measuring success as the biggest hurdle to committing budget to the medium.
There is no surprise that Twitter and Linkedin have recorded impressive growth rates over the last twelve months, up 32% and 14% respectively and the continued growth of Facebook is also up 13%. Compared to the decline of social bookmarking sites Digg, Delicious and Wikipedia, down 8%, 7% and 6% respectively, a trend is developing in social media where users are requiring increasing levels of interactivity online.
The success of the Facebook plug-in and its integration into many ecommerce sites suggests added interactivity is the way users want shop online, effectively connecting with social networking sites whilst visiting different retailers. With one constant profile across the web, users are embracing the ability to recommend products and shop whilst connected to a social network.
Now it seems that offering there is a new way to increase the audience you have on social networking site Twitter. The BBC today released news of a Australian social media marketing company uSocial offering a unique service.
uSocial is offering companies a paid service that will find followers for users of the micro-blogging service for a fee starting at $87 (£53) for 1,000. The companies offer packages that go up to 100,000 people, a significant boost to the audience companies can market through Twitter.
uSocial will find potential followers by searching Twitter and working out what individual users are interested in. USocial will also profile where people are so it can more closely match users with feeds they might want to follow.
USocial then sends messages to potential followers telling them about the new Twitter user they might want to follow.
“It’s up to the user to follow them or not,” said Mr Hill. He added that uSocial continues to look for followers until the specified number had signed up.
“A woman who runs yoga classes is one of our clients,” he said. “So are some religious organisations including one man that just wants to get the word out about God.”
“Twitter started as a way for just friends to keep in touch,” said Mr Hill. “As with any social media site once they get big, every business or marketer jumps on the bandwagon.”
The estimates value put on a follower on Twitter is 10 cents a month for a company that gets a user to sign up. The money would be made from adverts and sales on websites that followers click through to.
Plans were revealed today that would see users of social networking site MySpace given free Wi-Fi access when they use Broadband provider The Cloud.
The Cloud currently has 7,000 hotspots, and users logging on will be made aware of the deal by MySpace branding and multimedia content.
By following the advertised link users will be granted free access to MySpace.com, or alternatively continue to use a range of other services from The Cloud at the usual tariffs.
With some 75 million users, the deal could be providing a lot of Wi-Fi for a lot of users!
As part of the deal The Cloud’s Wi-Fi network will also be advertised across the MySpace network, with the joint promotion due to run until October. After this time users will have to subscribe to The Cloud’s Wi-Fi network as usual.
“The Cloud is delighted to be working with MySpace to provide many millions of its users free access to their music, video and friends over Cloud Wi-Fi,” – Steve Nicholson, The Cloud’s chief executive.
Just a quick post today to update on the Google/ Digg acquisition.
It turns out that we missed this late last week but Google has officially pulled out of its proposed purchase of Digg for $200 million.
The rumour had been circulating for months that Google was looking to add social bookmarking site Digg to its catalogue of acquisitions. The proposal was worrying for Microsoft who only last year signed a three year advertising deal with Digg which would have been extinguished.
“Sources close to the companies suggested that some issue that came up during technical due diligence was to blame”. and that “that the issue was more personality driven, and that Google decided after spending more time with Digg’s top team that there just wasn’t a fit.”
Many had debated the proposed acquisition with Google having a varied track record when it came to buying popular social networks. YouTube was one success story with the purchase of Jaiku as big a failure user-sign ups having been closed for the last 10 months.