SEOMoz Industry Survey: Are You F’ ing Kidding Me?

I spend a lot of my time reviewing stuff that flows through Twitter, Facebook, and places like Inbound so I can stay up to date on all of the amazing things that people in the marketing space are doing. You guys are awesome, and I want to be awesome, so this makes sense.

This week one of the most frequent items hitting my feeds over and over was the 2012 SEO Industry Survey from SEOmoz.

As usual this content was awesome. It was put together by one of my favorite marketing industry peeps Dr. Pete, and it gave amazing insight into my colleagues and their views on this industry. For a company such as CopyPress that provides products to marketers, this type of information is gold.

I loved digging into all of the data, and most of it validated what we have been doing at CopyPress.

A great example is how respondents were spending money on content.  While images are awesome and video is a growing need, the reality of pre- and post-Panda is that copy still leads the pack in terms of budgetary spend. Articles, guides, and blog posts are seeing big budget expenditures, and this goes along with where we see our customers putting their content spend.

I also was not surprised by the fact that most companies stated that they were offering more than one service set, because I don’t even see how you can find the clear distinction between some of these service groups lately.

I want to meet the guys just offering “SEO” as a service and ask what they do? Is it just the auditing and ongoing insight into the changes Google is making? That’s a tough business to scale for sure, and I think there is a place for specialists, but as a community we need to think bigger.

Er Mah Gerd

And then there were the surprises.

Here are the offerings that respondents felt were growing. (as a % of respondents)

What I find exceedingly interesting about this is the fact that 25%+ more respondents felt that Social Media and SEO had a larger growth rate than Content marketing.

The question I have to ask on both fronts is, “what are you doing for your SEO and Social Media offering if it doesn’t involve content?”. I totally understand the specialty that is SEO in terms of technical work, however that is not the bulk of the work that SEOs do on a day-to-day basis. After your site’s architecture and crawlability is strategically cemented, it is time to focus on the sustainable act of content creation and link acquisition.

The same goes for Social Media Marketing; regardless of the platform, the cores of social media are engagement and content. Social media can be utilized by marketers to engage in conversations with their customers, however it’s the content itself that helps guide these conversations.

How do these 25%+ of respondents get ready for the growth that they perceive to be coming from SEO and Social Media without planning for a subsequent growth in content marketing?

Facepalm

The most interesting thing to me was how the respondents were spending their time as individuals.  (as % spending more than half their time) 

So while the respondents feel social media will see the most growth potential as a service, less than 10% spend over half of their personal time on the service. Only 6% of respondents spend over half their time on copywriting and blogging, which while not completely surprising did make me wonder how internal training programs were put together.

Funny enough almost twice the amount of respondents spend over half of their time on linkbuilding as copy creation, and that fact alone makes me wonder what is being done for linkbuilding as a strategy, especially post-Penguin. If content isn’t at the heart of the linkbuilding process, what is?

Don’t answer that. (We are being watched)

Some of this did make sense, because as we see below the respondents have their team spending a larger portion of their time writing. However, the social media marketing number drops here as well.

As an industry if we are going to see a large amount of our growth come in the form of social media marketing, are we waiting to sell the service before we develop it. I can tell you that this will not work.  Best practices must be put in motion far before an offering can be put into a pitch deck. 

 So What the F’ ing F Peeps?

What is the deal here?

Obviously a lot of us are looking in the right direction, and that makes me happy; but the number of respondents putting their feet in that direction scares me. If we know that our future is based on the ever-growing unity between service sets, how come our time isn’t more evenly distributed?

The answer will be “because this was a survey of SEOs”. My response to that is, “EXACTLY!”. What does SEO mean to you in 2012? It doesn’t mean sitting around looking at site and page level architecture on a daily basis to me. I am a big believer in the foundational elements of SEO, so I am in no way saying “rewrite that book”; what I mean is “add other tactics to your playbook”.

47% of the respondents felt that their skill sets defined them as generalists, and I think that this number is going to have to grow for the benefit of our industry and their clients. I do think that people like David Mihm and Andrew Shotland, who are amazing specialists in a particular niche (Local SEO, in their case), are very much needed, however I think as an industry the days of when you could just say, “I am a technical SEO and that’s it” are coming to a close.

Maybe I am wrong.

I often am.

However, we will continue to shape our education material and our product set at CopyPress to fill the hole we felt stood at the center of this industry. This survey seems to validate our way of thinking. We will continue to work hard to offer awesome education for the content life cycle and help marketers develop well-rounded content strategies that aid their SEO and Social Media campaigns.