Companies Getting Savvy About Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

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Search engine optimization survey results show high levels of awareness and implementation of SEO campaigns. The results also hint at an overall negative view of unethical SEO firms and marketing methods.

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Most firms I have worked with are priced way beyond reality

MWI, a web design and SEO firm based in Utah, recently completed a survey asking respondents about their awareness of search engine optimization (SEO), their companies' practices regarding it, and costs they would expect to pay for certain SEO services. The results from 124 respondents, posted on MWI's organic SEO blog The Organic SEO, were both positive and negative, with some surprising findings.

Sixty-five percent of the respondents already knew the acronym "SEO" stands for "search engine optimization." "This alone was a much higher percentage than we would have expected," said Joshua Steimle, CEO of MWI. "If we had asked the same question two years ago there's almost no doubt the answer in the affirmative would have been less than ten percent."

Other results were equally interesting. The survey showed that roughly 66% of respondents' companies had direct experience with SEO, either by doing it in-house or by hiring an outside SEO firm. 35% of the total respondents were actively engaged in an SEO campaign, and 31% had run an SEO campaign in the past but had stopped it for some reason.

There were some results that were perhaps less positive for the SEO industry. More than half of the respondents who said they would pay for SEO services and chose a specific price range said they would be willing to pay between $500 to $1,000 per month, the lowest price range available for selection on the survey. Not exactly a ray of sunshine for an industry where prices for monthly SEO services often climb to thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars per month. On the other hand, perhaps this is an opportunity for a low-priced SEO service provider.

When respondents were asked an open-ended question about their experiences and feelings regarding SEO some responded saying that "SEO is not rocket science" while other expressed feelings of confusion and doubt about whether SEO is effective or whether SEO firms can be trusted to work ethically. A common thread was the desire to work with SEO firms that are compensated under a "pay for performance" model. Most respondents perceived SEO as important and capable of delivering results if the right SEO firm was employed. "I have not used any SEO firms as of yet" wrote one respondent. "I have heard many stories about incompetent/expensive/not-worth-it SEO firms and have been gunshy about hiring SEO firms in general. However, I do think that it will be a necessary component of my website promotion."

Another challenge facing SEO firms are clients who wonder about the potential for positive ROI. Although respondents saw SEO as being important and beneficial, they had doubts about whether it was worth the expense. "Most firms I have worked with are priced way beyond reality" wrote a respondent. "SEO firms want 50k to optimize a site selling 19.95 merchandise."

A not-too-surprising commonly voiced bit of criticism had to do with a perceived lack of ethics and stability in the relatively new and therefore somewhat unknown SEO industry. One respondent wrote "Seems like a lot of firms promise a whole lot... making me not very inclined to trust them. I guess I am a little suspect of anyone promising everything." Another respondent had issues with trust after a negative experience as an employee of an SEO firm. "I worked for a company that tried to do SEO and they went under after only being around for just over a year."

Overall we see these survey results as positive for legitimate and ethical SEO firms. Increased awareness, understanding, and perceived value surrounding SEO services will cause growth in the industry. Firms that are unethical or do not provide true value in their services will be marginalized as the consumer becomes more savvy.

What is Search Engine Optimization or SEO?

SEO can be defined as "all tasks necessary to improve the rankings of a website for certain keywords," however, the term SEO is often used to describe other services related to search engines and marketing. For more information, read our Frequently Asked Questions about Search Engine Optimization.

About MWI Inc.

MWI SEO provides web design, search engine optimization, application development, content management, and branding & design services from offices in Salt Lake City, Utah to clients across the United States, including California, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, New York, Massachusetts, and Virginia. Notable clients include 3Com, Altiris, Brighton Ski Resort, California Pools, Garage Technology Ventures, FranklinCovey, Hubble Homes, Winder Farms, and Zions Bank.


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Joshua Steimle
MWI Inc.
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