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MarketingSherpa: What works in Search

October 31, 2008

For fifth consecutive year, MarketingSherpa gathers data and presents it in its “Search Marketing Benchmark Guide”. The 2009 guide covers the rapidly evolving search marketing industry and depicts a picture of the present online landscape, the best day-to-day tactics and strategies, as well as the latest trends.

Here are some of the guide’s highlights:

Businesses Budgeting for Search

Almost half of all agencies that took part in the survey, report that businesses have too-small, usually fixed search budgets that are completely consumed early in the month. Only 19 percent of marketers said that their clients have solid budget to maintain an efficient market presence. These findings are a clear indication that businesses still haven’t fully realized the true value of the online marketing. If they want to exploit it better, they have to allocate more of their marketing dollars for search marketing.

Viral Marketing Budgets

Most search marketers omit budgeting for viral marketing. 37 percent acknowledged they have never set aside budget for such initiatives. Only 7.5 percent aggressively pursue viral activities.

Viral marketing can be extremely efficient and at the same time rather inexpensive. However, most of the businesses aren’t aware of this sort of marketing initiatives and don’t put them into the mix. Creating a quality viral product will let marketers set up a successful marketing campaign at a low price.

Keyword length

The data shows that search marketers pursue more aggressively long-tail keywords: 54 percent of search phrases are more than three words.

Why keyword length matters? The key is in people’s behavior when they are searching for a product. Initially, they start with a simple search, such as “iPod”. Thus, they get the search engine results page figuring out that there are multiple brands for this product. At this point they refine their search, and do three- or four-word search, for example, “Apple iPod in LA for sale”.

As search marketers began to realize that the niche search queries result in the better conversions, they opted for investing more heavily in these terms. Long-tail terms certainly produce more targeted visitors and the most cost-efficient conversions.

Organic clicks

The chart above demonstrates that significant volume of clicks (on the right) come from natural search as opposed to paid search results (on the left).

Additionally, business decision makers who are generally the most important people to target, actually seem to click on Google paid searches less than anyone else.

This highlights that it is of paramount importance to put much time and effort on SEO making sure that you are really doing well on natural searches.

Targeting Search Users

An integral part of any marketing strategy is precisely targeting your audience. If done right, you will surely produce enhanced return on investments. As search engines come up with more sophisticated ways to target, the different forms of targeting and differnet search engines should be tested aggressively to expand your search program and get into smaller niches.

Geo-targeting is when marketers restrict who is seeing a particular search ad based on people’s location. Geo-targeting is definitely a good method. The only shortcoming of it is that there is an immense amount of competition on bid prices locally due to the huge increase in the use of mobile and local search.

Does search have a brand effect?

As the activity of searching for information before shopping gets more common, brands are becoming more important to search marketers.

Search is a medium that makes an impact on the perception of a brand. The evidence of this statement can be found on the chart below where are compared two groups: a group of consumer who has recently been exposed to a brand on a search page vs a control group who has not been exposed:

The survey shows that it is absolutely mandatory any brand to appear in the natural search results, at least for your brand name, and preferably for any branded product terms.

Mobile search

Mobile search is going mainstream. According to Nielsen, 46 million Americans performed mobile searches last year. Mobile search is going to become the standard and even is projected to eventually be bigger than desktop search.


In twelve month span, much has changed for the search engine marketing industry and even more is expected to change in the years to come. So, stay tuned and keep abreast of the latest in the search marketing realm.



1. The Executive summary of Search Marketing Executive Guide

2. New Research Reveals What’s Working in Search: Teleseminar Transcript, Slides, MP3


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