Nathan
By , Content Writer at GoodFirms

GoodFirms conducted a survey of 100+ SEO companies/experts to learn SEO practices recommended by them and the challenges faced. Read the detailed research to sharpen the SEO skills for your business.

The world lives online, and that has created the sheer need to pop-up in the search results on popular search engines. Then again, being visible on SERPs is not enough! Gaining higher ranks in the search results to earn leads and thus generate online revenue from organic marketing tactics is how you rock the SEO domain.

Businesses regardless of their industrial sectors are looking out for SEO strategies that could enhance their visibility online. The online marketing arena being an open space for all provides even the small-sized businesses with a fair chance to make use of the SEO practices and generate income from organic leads in the digital space. And it is a universal fact that whether small, medium or large; any business holding the top search results speak for the web-traffic inculcated by their websites along with the keyword optimization and Domain Authority (DA).

Search Engine Optimization is a gradual process, it takes its own time to give profitable results, but is definitely necessary to access long-term benefits of internet marketing. SEO activities when boosted with both internal and external resources, that is On-Page optimization techniques as well as external Off-Page tactics like guest blogging and social media marketing gives speedy outcomes.

SURVEY OF SEO COMPANIES AND SPECIALISTS

This survey was conducted among 100+ SEO companies/specialists globally that included participants like IndeedSEO, Artjoker Software etc., to get a thorough understanding of the latest SEO trends and tactics followed and suggested by these experts. The search engines’ algorithms become smart day by day, enforcing SEO professionals to implement ethical ways to increase qualitative link building, market worthy content, gain higher Domain Authority and use authentic SEO tools to ensure that the web pages are completely optimized. Popular search engines care about the web-traffic and keep their algorithms on evolving mode to match the psychographics of their audience in order to help them find the exact content they search for!

So how do the SEO masters cope-up with the ever-changing context of the search engines? To get into the minds of the SEO specialists, read the detailed research below to get profound insights regarding the top priorities, challenges, practices and their impacts on latest SEO trends.

Overview of SEO companies specialists survey

The Detailed Findings:

Some thoughtful questions were asked of the SEO professionals to get purposeful answers, that could help elevate the level of SEO practices with a thorough understanding of how to achieve speedy and efficient results. The obtained perceptions from the acumen of SEO experts belonging to different countries has allowed GoodFirms to highlight the important aspects that could change the SEO game for versatile businesses.

Here is a rundown of the major parameters researched by the team of GoodFirms that affect the rankings of the landing pages or web pages intended. The mentioned statistics acquired from the survey will assist the businesses in understanding how to make intelligent use of the whole SEO fiesta. Get acknowledged with numerous priorities that influence the aftermath of Search Engine Optimization on the web and their affiliated percentile exhibiting what truly matters!

1. What must be the top Inbound Marketing priority for businesses today?

The research team of GoodFirms asked the SEO companies and experts about the top inbound marketing technique that they favor the most for their businesses and clients respectively. Also, they were given three options to choose from:

  • Growing organic traffic via SEO
  • Content marketing tactics
  • Social media marketing

Top inbound marketing priority for businesses

As per the above pie-chart, increasing organic traffic on the websites from search engines along with content creation has been the top priorities for SEO professionals globally. As it can be seen, 44.6% of them clearly pointed towards growing organic traffic whereas 42.7% of these experts chose content marketing tactics. With not much of a difference though, it can be said that both are to be considered as high priorities depending on the business you are dealing with!

And yes, it matters which business you are in, where is the maximum of your target audience surfing online and which path would be most enticing to lure in prospects. And hence, even with a smaller percentile, social media marketing did receive high importance from a miniature amount of professionals; 12.7% to be exact. Social media does play a significant role in making stuff viral in a shorter period of time, especially if the content clicks with the audience.

And hence, if you are looking out for organically promoting an entertainment app or game or movie etc., the humongous web traffic at facebook, the keen eye of the twitteratis for trending tweets, the customized filters of snapchat, the chic picture quality of instagram and so on, if wisely utilized, has the potential to get your substance spread within a matter of days.

2. Which are the two must use tools for SEO apart from Google Analytics?

An SEO executive working for any business without the SEO tools is like a coder without a computer! Websites and blogs require incredible content with improved keywords which influence them to show up in search engine databases. SEO tools give propelled solutions to increase the visibility of the web pages. Hence, usage of the SEO tools is vital keeping in mind the end goal to get customers. Regardless of how smart and innovative a site is; if there aren't adequate visitors to remain on that specific site, at that point all diligent work will truly go futile.

This is where SEO tools show its magic by improving a site to accomplish great web search rankings. Utilizing SEO tools is highly valuable in reaping higher activity towards a business site. Likewise, making a wise choice while using the best tools available in the market, including free ones and the paid ones, is important as well. Every business is limited to its own budget for optimizing organic marketing results and the SEO professionals’ aim is to make the most of what’s allotted. The GoodFirms team wanted to research on the priority percentile assigned to some most used tools in the market apart from Google Analytics.

Most important tools for SEO

A sum total of five choices were given to the SEO companies/experts, and they were asked to choose two options that bear the tag of ‘must use tools’ from their perspective apart from Google Analytics of course. And as seen in the above chart, the SEO experts from various sectors across the world have chosen the webmasters of popular search engines such as Google and Yahoo with a supporting figure of 83.3%, making it a more efficient tool. The second-most priority has been given to the keyword planner with 77.6% of overall validation.

Further, MOZ solutions tool was opted for 56.7% of the times in the survey by more than 100+ SEO professionals. SemRush and Ahrefs have each gained a priority percentile of 33.3%.

Thus, tracking a website's search performance with Google Search Console and discovering new and most relatable keywords for web pages that are searched in higher volume through Keyword Planner are the two must use tools after Google Analytics.

3. Which strategy do your clients prefer? PPC or Organic Search?

Most searchers across the globe prefer clicking on organic results as opposed to clicking on paid ads. Merely, 15% of total clicks result from PPC ads run by businesses. Paying high cost for short-term campaigns may provide instant relish in terms of higher visibility, increasing the chances of getting clicked during the campaign duration; but there are no long-term benefits like generating constant web traffic on your site.

Below is the graphical representation of the responses obtained:

SEO strategy preferred by clients

As observed clearly in the above pie chart, lion’s share of the pie holding a percentage of 60.7% is occupied by the strategical combination of ‘mostly SEO; some PPC’. Further, some preference has been given to ‘equal mix of both’ and ‘mostly PPC; some SEO’ with 17.8% and 15.2% respectively. Though ‘only organic SEO’ approach is supported in rare cases where the businesses have the flair to survive in the market with piecemeal steps.

Organic SEO and PPC or paid search results have to go hand in hand. Relying on either of these solely never creates the intended impact on the web. Both forms of marketing have its own pros and cons, which is pretty natural. Organic search has the potential to get higher clicks from the desired audience that conclude into longer consistent web-traffic, whereas PPC holds a slight edge in higher conversion rates during its limited term campaigns along with frequent awareness created among the audience.

Searchers on the web are getting smarter and have started anticipating the resultant landing pages even before clicking the paid results on the search engines. Thus, they tend to click more on organic results to find exactly what they are searching for! And well, whether SEO companies and professionals or their clients, all of them prefer to incorporate a profitable combination consisting of ‘mostly SEO; some PPC’ strategy format for the nourishment of global businesses.

4. Which tactic would you recommend to get high-quality backlinks?

The end goal of building external links is to push up one’s web page to higher ranks in the search engines. And these search engines follow a strict algorithm to get the most authentic content visible to the visitors. Considering the facts related to external links, the research team of GoodFirms came up with four reliable options from the recommendations of SEO companies/experts in reference to get high-quality backlinks from external sites that would majorly support qualitative link building.

GoodFirms took to these four approved choices into the examination and asked the global participants to select one tactic that is the most effective in accordance with their past experience. Here’s what the received responses state:

Recommended tactic for high quality backlinks

From the above-mentioned data, crafting link-worthy content seemed to be the winning choice, as chosen by 35.2% of the 100+ participants and the close runner-up option came out to be - guest blogging on sites with high Domain Authority for building reliable backlinks gaining 30.8%. Outreaching top influencers of a particular niche to write content and insert links in it; bagged the support of 21.3% of the SEO professionals, whereas the option of broken link building although being highly effective in white-hat SEO practices received the selection rate of 12.7% of the total sharers in the survey.

5. Which are the two topmost challenges faced by SEO companies/professionals?

If there’s a task, there ought to be obstacles! After incorporating the questions regarding the best ways to make SEO successful for businesses overall, the research team of GoodFirms, without a doubt had to know the topmost challenges in achieving it too. And when the survey was conducted to cognize which of the above-mentioned difficulties is causing SEO professionals to scratch their heads, GoodFirms had a new data chart depicting the percentile modulation for each challenge that was asked in the questionnaire in this survey. The referred statistics can be studied in the illustration below:

Topmost challenges for SEO professionals

Gathering from the above chart, proving the Return On Investment (ROI) to the stakeholders and ranking a single web page for multiple keywords turned out to be the most harrowing pains for the SEO wizards ahead of the others identified in the research. To add some more insight, social media and content marketing are among the most difficult channels to measure for ROI.

Coming to the fragment of the ranking single page for multiple keywords, to be clear again; ‘Google Ranks Individual Pages, Not Websites’. Hence, making every page filled with information that people want to read that too with the integration of keywords. The requirement of strong coordination between the SEO technicals and content crafters is what this is all about!

Further, frequent SERP changes are bound to pop up when the SEO professionals least expect them or rather not want them. The basic algorithm of Google changes almost every day and then suddenly drops the awakening call of new updates like rich snippets out of nowhere. These changes create dramatic shifts in the page ranks. Lastly, a common issue such as penalization by Google for spam links or content duplication is a forever issue for SEOs to avoid cautiously.

6. What is the most prominent reason that impels the users to leave a website after landing on it from SERPs?

Most prominent reasons that impel users to leave a website

The chart displayed above, shouts out for the prominent reason to be ‘Slow Load Time’ with approximately 100% heads up from all the participants in the survey. And digging the discernment obtained from the global SEO companies/experts, it is a matter of 3-4 seconds. More than half of the visitors leave the page if the site doesn’t load in four seconds. The patience level of users is going down with the quality of the sites going upwards. The customers want a bit more, each time your site loads!

The second highest reasons turned out to be irrelevant content and too many Call-To-Action buttons (CTAs) on the website, both gaining 66.7% of the support from global SEO specialists. When it comes to content, difficult fonts and non-relatable substance repel the users enforcing them to leave the web page. Moreover, no CTA or too many CTAs, both are unfavorable for a website as both give birth to confusions. A website should be devoid of unclear navigation and be confusing CTAs as your motto is to please them with your products or services and not baffle them with overwhelming content.

Last but not the least, bad design was selected by almost 50% of the total participants and cluttered content caught the attention of 33.3% of the survey participators. Outdated design that lacks personality and is not pleasing the eyes of your visitors loses half of their attention right then and then! Additionally, obtrusive ads, registrations, videos on autoplay mode make the content cluttered into various non-welcomed sectors on the screen, blocking the visitors’ focus and pushing them back to move onto other contenders to find what they need.

7. How much does your basic SEO package cost for 10 keywords in a month? Which services are included?

Cost of SEO package

When asked about the fundamental cost of an average package for SEO services, 60 responses from 100+ participants including SEO companies and experts were received with exact price range charged by them for 10 keywords per month including on-page optimization & off-page activities like content marketing and social media marketing. The rest of the answers stated that it sheerly depends upon the time spent on the work as they offered packages in terms of hours rather than keywords. The statistics obtained from the survey gave an average cost to the research team of GoodFirms being $633 for 30 days of basic SEO services.

Following is the summary of the statistics obtained for reference:

  • 33.33% of the participants quote their clients with the price of $500
  • Approximately 50% of them have allowed themselves to the price of $600
  • Another 16.67% of the SEO firms and professionals placed themselves in the price range section of up to $1000

8. Which Google change had the most significant impact on SEO practices?

Google change and its impacts on SEO practices

For businesses occupying the ‘featured snippet’ space, has led them towards increased sessions, higher click-through rate (CTR), prominent visibility over authoritative domains and more revenue from organic visitors. In the attempts to provide the best possible user experience, Google provides answers for queries directly on the search results page through ‘featured snippet’ on ‘position 0’, rather than making the searcher click through to a website.

But this is just the positive impact of snippets. The web pages that do not get featured have lost a tremendous percentage of CTR due to increased reliability factor for results in the snippets. Hence, as seen in the above graph, the Google change of ‘Featured Snippets’ have had the maximum impact on SEO as per the survey answers by renowned SEO companies and experts. And that is why this Google change have got 61.7% of the votes.

The ads that disrupt the normal search flow of users/visitors, enforcing them to click on a link or go to ‘x’ webpage before moving ahead in their search, are termed as ‘interstitials’ by Google. This detractive insertion of promotions has been penalized by Google as they make the content less accessible for users taking extra space and time. These penalties definitely affect the search engine results losing the authenticity of the web pages and thus 14.3% of participants have chosen this option.

Further, Local SEO change had turned the tables for offline businesses as well. The online reviews from customers on Google has increased the leads ratio for local businesses. And this has enabled SEOs to be able to optimize the web presence for these businesses with/without a personalized website. Mobile SEO is all about optimizing web pages for various mobile devices in the market running on numerous OS versions. This change has assisted the SEOs in the improvement of loading speed, graphics, and images, easy website navigation, clear content etc. for separate mobile websites. Also, Mobile SEO being an important factor in Google ranking helps businesses to climb up the ladder of search results with an optimized mobile website.

And well, for their own specific reasons from the above characteristics, 12.7% of the global SEO professionals chose Mobile SEO and 11.3% of them chose Local SEO to be the most impactful Google change on SEO skills.

9. Which Google algorithm update has highly affected the search engine rankings of the web pages?

Before proceeding to any value or fact or conclusion, read the tweets below, published by the official account of Google on Twitter for tweets from Google's public liaison of search.

Also, read what the Google Analyst John has to say about the minor changes that get embedded into the Google Algorithm in his tweet:

john Google Analyst Tweet

Apparently, the broader and focused changes happen in the Google Algorithm at regular intervals. Also, the focused changes with minute modifications happen almost every day, but occasionally Google rolls out some major algorithm updates that strikingly affects the search engine results. Google does this to work towards its sole mission statement, ‘To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.’

Well, tracking down the history of Google Algorithm changes, the research team of GoodFirms had six paramount options on paper to analyze their effects on SERPs with the global SEO experts:

  • Panda - Duplicate, plagiarized or thin content; user-generated spam; keyword stuffing
  • Penguin - Spammy or irrelevant links; links with over-optimized anchor text
  • Hummingbird - Keyword stuffing; low-quality content
  • Pigeon - Poor on-page and off-page SEO
  • RankBrain - Lack of query-specific relevance features; shallow content; poor UX
  • Fred - Thin, affiliate-heavy or ad-centered content

Google algorithm update and its effects on search engine rankings

The SEO agencies/specialists were asked to choose the Google Algorithm that has had the strongest impact on search engine rankings of the web pages. And as per the above chart, Panda and Penguin updates grossed the maximum intake of selection claiming 37.4% and 35.3% respectively from the total of 100+ participants in the survey.

Google aims and demands for every web page to be filled with original content that is engaging, knowledgeable and useful for the audience. The Google algorithm update ‘Panda’ asks for content creation without duplicity, plagiarism and repetitive insertion of keywords. Next comes Penguin that restricts spammed or irrelevant links stuffed via higher volume keywords into the content on web pages. These two updates have compelled the SEOs to keep the mentioned errands in check and work towards Google’s mission statement of providing authentic search results to the visitors.

10. What do you anticipate will be the effect of Voice Search on SEO in future?

This one important question got some pretty noteworthy replies as follows:

Natural Speech Patterns

People don’t speak the same as they type. When they have the convenience of interacting through words of mouth, they tend to describe things through an easy form of words that are available in the top of their minds. To explain simply, chatting with a friend, people text ‘Hi..Hows U?’; while interacting face-to-face, these words involuntarily change to, ‘Hey... How have you been?’ Because of this, it’s growing more important for voice search and SEO to pick up on users’ natural speech patterns when focusing on voice search optimization.

Long-tail Keywords

As voice search gets trendy, it has become vital to utilize conversational, long-tail keywords to support Search Engine Optimization for voice recognition. Long keywords being longer include certain words or phrases that are utilized by individuals while making the purchase. Hence, you ought to have these keywords included in the description of the products or services or any type of commodity that you are trying to sell.

Higher Emphasis On Mobile

With the majority of search queries emerging from mobile, SEO professionals are concentrating on it with regards to voice search to enhance their SEO. Nowadays, the best digital marketers comprehend that mobile should precede desktop. Also, since most voice searches are done in a hurry by means of cell phones, this implies you have to ensure your content is optimized for mobile devices to appear higher in voice search rankings.

Judging the above facts, Voice Search being on the uprising in near future, SEO specialists have to be more accurate about long tail keywords, schema, Google my business and FAQs pages; as these pages would affect the technicality of search results tremendously.

Conclusion

No matter what, the organic leads will always be the top-most priority for every business for progressing revenues. The Google Algorithm will keep on updating and features like Voice Search will keep on evolving in the domain of SEO but true expertise from the best SEO professionals will always save the day!

The above SEO trends & tactics research from the survey conducted by the team of GoodFirms must have given you rich apprehension for dealing with the Search Engine Optimization of your website. Now all that is needed is an experienced resource who fathoms with all the nuances SEO and can carve out the best ways through productive tactics. Thinking about outsourcing? Just go through the list of Best SEO Agencies compiled by the research team of GoodFirms and hire the one you think can change the game of SEO for your business.

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