Perhaps due to the growing influence of social shares on search rankings, local SEOs are increasingly seeing social media as an effective marketing channel for local businesses, according to results from a BrightLocal industry survey. More than 8 in 10 respondents believe that social either works well for certain business types (57%) or that it is very powerful (25%), up from 76% last year, while fewer than 1 in 10 are of the opinion that it’s over-hyped. When it comes to generating leads customers for clients, though, SEOs are biased towards search, with 82% saying that “general search” is one of their top-3 most effective online channels. Behind general search was local search, a top-3 tool for 62% of respondents. Social media came in fourth, at 26% of respondents, behind PPC (53%), but ahead of local directories, mobile, video marketing, classified websites, display ads, and deals/daily deals.
Respondents to the survey indicate that on-site SEO is by far their most in-demand service, followed by a cluster of second-tier services led by Google+ optimization, and followed by website development, link building, PPC, content creation/development, and social media marketing. As the researchers note, demand tends to follow supply: most respondents offer services such as on-site SEO and Google+ optimization, while fewer offer video or mobile marketing (also towards the bottom of the demand list).
- 70% of respondents’ customers pay them less than $1,000 per month for SEO services.
- Only 14% of SEOs and agencies work with a single vertical.
- 4 of SEOs’ top 5 most effective channels for attracting new customers are offline. They are: word of mouth (#1); local business groups (#3); meet-ups/workshops (#4); and outbound calls (#5). SEO is the second-most highly rated channel, though word of mouth is the clear leader, cited by 91%.
- The average success rate for converting new leads into customers is 42%.
- Easily the most time-consuming and tedious SEO and business task is link building, cited by 55% of respondents, with content writing (15%) in a distant second place.
- 93% of local SEOs expect their business to grow this year.
About the Data: The data is based on an online survey conducted from January 20 – February 20, 2013. 1,409 SEOs completed the survey.