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Search Engine Optimization has been a hot topic for businesses for a very long time due to its long-term traffic and conversion benefits. With an increasing number of businesses that chose to create a website, the number of invested resources in SEO also grows, and in this way stimulates the entire SEO segment. It is also the case for IT companies and digital agencies that in 2022 are SEO-aware and are dedicating more people, time, and money to their organic growth. Of course, there is a number of IT companies that count on ads.
Between March 15-30, 2022 TechBehemoths surveyed 997 IT companies and digital agencies across 40 countries regarding their SEO activity. The survey aims to identify major trends in the IT industry and define the impact of SEO on companies and digital agencies.
A solid majority of surveyed companies - 84.3% were represented by C-level executives including founders, CEO, heads of departments, and 15.7% of the respondents are managers, including SEO managers, marketing specialists, and sales department specialists. Among the reasons why they were invited to participate in the survey was company reputation within their industry and country as well as their company profile - all of them represent IT companies and digital agencies.
At the same time, in this survey, TechBehemoths selected all-sized companies but a higher share belongs to small and medium businesses. More than 40% of all participating companies have between 2-9 employees, while 26.2% have between 10 and 20 employees. Larger IT companies have a total share of 33.1% of all respondents.
Important to note is that smaller IT companies and digital agencies have a higher response share in this survey as our statistics show that small IT companies are more likely to invest in SEO rather than larger companies. Also, small businesses invest less human capital and financial resources in SEO due to limitations.
When asked if companies they represent have an SEO manager within their company, 67% of respondents answered yes, and ⅓ - no.
It is also very interesting to observe the distribution of companies that don’t have an SEO manager. Especially if we refer to the answers to company size.
Out of that 33% of companies that don’t have an in-house SEO manager, most of them have between 2-20 employees. In this way, a total of 70.3% of small IT companies and digital agencies don’t have an SEO manager, while 29.6% of them are IT companies with 20 and more employees.
As the company number grows the number of companies that have an in-house SEO manager also increases. However, 33% initially declared that don’t have an in-house SEO manager.
When it comes to the number of SEO specialists IT companies have, more than ⅓ declared that only 1 person is dedicated to SEO work. Also, 26.2% of IT companies and digital agencies answered that they have several specialists which means 2 people. At the same time, 15.5% have an SEO department and only 3.9% answered that 5 or more people are performing SEO tasks.
We’ve also collected individual answers that count as less than 1%, but their input is equally valuable to us. Here are some of the most curious responses:
Regardless of the number of SEO employees IT companies hire, the majority of them admit that SEO has a big impact on their business performance. When asked to evaluate it on a scale from 1 (least important) to 5 (very important), 59.2% of respondents or 590 IT companies and digital agencies answered that it is very important. Other 271 companies consider SEO important for their business, and 116 companies have a neutral approach towards SEO.
Only a total of 2% (20 IT companies) mentioned that SEO is not important at all, or less important. The small number of answers that disregard SEO point out that an increasing number of companies acknowledge the importance and the impact of Search Engine Optimization as a process.
Considering the declared impact of SEO on businesses, it’s very likely that the market demand for SEO specialists will grow in the near future. But, this also depends on the financial and technical capabilities of each company which limits the possible number of new SEO specialists in IT companies and digital agencies.
The importance of SEO for IT companies and digital agencies is measured in goals and results. During the survey, the respondents were offered 7 ways how SEO impacts their businesses. The most popular answer among IT companies is Lead Generation, followed by link building, website optimization, and traffic growth. Here are the detailed results:
For what purpose do IT companies need SEO services?
Considering that SEO impacts the lead generation process in the long term, the reason why IT companies prefer SEO to the detriment of ads was logical. It’s also stated by multiple digital marketing communities that SEO is cost-effective compared to its alternatives, and this serves as another reason to invest in SEO.
Nonetheless, link building still plays an important role in SEO, so its popularity among IT companies can be considered as an effort to support their SEO activities rather than a separate reason.
At the other end of the spectrum and the least popular answer is competitive analysis - a rather surprising result, as most advanced SEO tools, provide important information about how competitors stand on different chapters such as keyword positioning, organic traffic, and link building.
Another indicator of SEO awareness in the IT community is the rate of SEO audits performed by companies. According to the survey results, almost 90% of participating IT companies performed at least one SEO audit on their websites.
On the other hand, 9.7% didn’t do an audit yet, and it could mean a lower visibility rate on search engines, less organic traffic, and possibly, fewer leads. As the survey revealed, not all IT companies rely on SEO, and a specific percentage of them get traffic and leads from referral sources and ads, but having an SEO audit may reveal user experience issues as well, that by the way could be difficult to detect using other tools.
With multiple options to choose from, survey respondents pointed out that Google is the reference search engine when it comes to SEO. But this doesn’t mean that other search engines are out of the question.
Even if 99.2% opted for Google as the search engine with the higher usage rate for SEO, Bing is in second place with 35.9% of IT companies using it for SEO purposes too. Yahoo closes the top 3 most popular search engines with 13.6%.
In 4th place, there is DuckDuckGo with 5.8% of the preferences, and 5th and 6th places are shared between regional search engines - Yandex and Baidu that handle the Russian and Chinese organic traffic.
There are different ways how IT companies can do SEO, as well as a wide range of tools. Some tools are provided by search engines such as Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools. Other tools work independently and have broader or narrower use.
In 2022, there are a lot of SEO tools available, and during the survey, IT companies had a series of questions to answer regarding them. The first question regards SEO tools' visibility - more precisely, how many companies have heard of the most popular SEO tools nowadays. The question provided multiple answers, and each respondent could pick one or several tools.
In the first place, the most well-known SEO tool features SEMRush, where 94.2% of IT companies stated that they’ve heard of it. Google Search Console was in second place - 85.4% of respondents mentioned that they’ve at least heard of GSC. The top 3 is completed by the popular WordPress SEO plugin - Yoast. At a small distance from Google Search Console, Yoast is known by 83.5% of surveyed IT companies. Here is how other SEO tools are used by IT companies:
The big surprise came from Similarweb, which actually got off the picture for a while to redesign and rebuild its services. Meanwhile, its popularity has possibly dropped and only 56.3% of IT companies stated that heard about it. Alexa on the other hand still has high visibility despite that on May 1, 2022, will be retired.
It’s one thing to hear about tools, and another thing is to use them. Surprised or not, the rankings don’t stand the same, as free SEO tools from Google are the most popular among IT companies. Google Search Console and Google PageSpeed Insights are the most used SEO tools, with 76.7% and 68.9% of usage rates among IT companies and digital agencies. The most used commercial SEO tool is SEMRush. 61.2% of participating IT companies stated that they actively use SEMRush for SEO activities.
The fourth position is held by another free tool - Google Trends whereas 55.3% of respondents declared that they use it. Google Keyword Planner is also not far behind, with 52.4% of positive responses. But also is the popular WordPress plugin that got the same results in the survey. The full list of SEO tools and their usage rate among IT companies can be found in the chart below.
SEO investments are a good decision for IT companies as the survey reveals that the majority of them get 50%and more of their traffic from search engines. So either it's about assigning an in-house specialist or outsourcing SEO services from another company - both options bring significant results for IT companies.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are 32% of IT companies get less than 50% organic traffic. This may happen for different reasons - either companies didn’t pay too much attention to SEO, or maybe they’re just starting to explore new options about how they can increase their organic traffic. It may also be that a specific number of companies don’t necessarily get a low amount of organic traffic if they decided to go with both SEO and ads. All in all, less than 50% could be 1% up to 49%, so the situation is very individual.
Other 9.7% of IT companies and digital agencies don’t exactly measure their traffic sources and volumes, so for them, it’s a bit unclear whether they get visitors from search engines, referral sources, or maybe ads.
If targeted correctly, the organic search audience could bring a higher number of leads and valuable visitors. At the same time, there is always a percentage of organic traffic that comes for informative purposes and navigational reasons. So generally, the big challenge with SEO is to reach your target audience, and not all organic visitors can be converted into clients.
The survey shows that only 36.9% of participating IT companies and digital agencies get more than 50% of their leads from search engines. At the same time, 45.6% of respondents stated that they get less than 50% of their leads/revenue from Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines.
Also, the number of companies that didn’t measure their leads sources got higher compared to the previous chart and went up to 15.5% from 9.7%.
There were several individual answers from survey respondents, out of which we consider 2 of them most interesting:
When asked about how organic traffic is split between branded and non-branded keywords, 46.6% of the respondents declared non-branded keywords, whereas 44.7% of the respondents told us that branded keywords get them most of their organic traffic.
In other words, this means that only half of IT companies get results from keywords associated with their name, and the other half rely on informative content among other types. Depending on the business model of each agency and company this might be both good and bad news for them.
SEO is about a series of processes and efforts to go through. Some should be constantly performed, other processes periodically. According to the survey results, the most challenging part is link building with 60.2% of the responses.
Content creation, which is also directly related to Link Building is also considered a difficult task for IT companies and comes in second place with 40.8% of responses. The top 3 most challenging SEO processes is closed by Technical SEO, where 32% of respondents told that it is difficult to perform.
The least challenging SEO processes are Website Security (10.7%) followed by Mobile-First Optimization (16.5%) and Speed Optimization (20.4%). Not too difficult and not easy there is Keyword Research with a 30.1% difficulty rate.
There are also individual answers that we found interesting:
Depending on the size, goals, and optimization stage among other criteria, SEO could be more or less costly. What’s more important is that SEO is a long-term process that once dropped would not take much time to feel the effects. 997 IT companies and digital agencies were asked about how much money they are willing to spend on SEO.
The results show that companies still consider SEO a cheap service, and only 13.4% of companies are willing to invest more than $800/month. It’s true that prices for SEO services depend also on the region, and service level so there is no fixed price in general. However, for SEO specialists it may be disappointing how their services are valued by IT companies. At the same time, this means that companies should receive more education on why SEO is important and how it should be valued.
Along with human and financial costs, SEO is also about time. Usually, the more time a company spends on SEO, the better are the results. This is what survey respondents also agree with.
According to survey results, 62.1% of IT companies and digital agencies understand that SEO is a long-term process that needs to be constantly maintained and adjusted at specific rates. However, there are also companies that have a predefined timeline of how long SEO process should last for them. Answers vary from zero time to more than 1 year, but there are very few answers that define an exact time range. At the same time, 8.7% of respondents are not sure about how much SEO activity should last.
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