There are few industries as fast-moving and uncontrollable as Search Engine Optimization. Over the last few years, SEO has evolved from a lonely island to an interconnected continent, where many different practices and approaches are united. In today’s world, SEO means much more than just link building and on-page optimization. It means bridging the gaps between disciplines and leveraging their overlaps. The profitable symbiosis of various measures is already there – it always was – we just need to make efficient use of it.
Why Supply and Demand in SEO do not match
This trend of a more holistic orientation in online marketing mainly arises from the fact that it’s not that much about search engines anymore, but rather about the user. Google and (therefore) webmasters alike are now taking a more customer-centric approach that puts content and its added value for the recipient at the centre of all marketing efforts. In consequence, content marketing and online PR have gained importance and have taken over a major role in SEO. Or maybe SEO has been assigned a minor role in online marketing as a whole?
There are always two sides to a coin – just like our infographic on the ‘State of SEO Agencies’ demonstrates. It visualizes two perspectives on the SEO landscape – customers’ and service-providers’ point of view. And this direct juxtaposition reveals quite a few mismatches in supply and demand.
Content Marketing is the new SEO and yet an often unexplored piece of land
Content marketing plays an increasingly crucial role in SEO. This is not big news, but apparently still is a big challenge for online marketers worldwide, who are struggling with becoming proficient in the somewhat demanding discipline. Producing high-quality content with significant added value at a high frequency is not only challenging, but also demands time and resources. All these troubles would make for a great motivation to outsource this part of the daily routine to an agency. However, service-providers don’t seem to be prepared for that urgent demand in the market yet. Often, the situation is even worse: they are affected by the same struggles as other companies in this regard. Still, it is clear that those who can’t offer expertise in both disciplines – content marketing and SEO – are much less competitive than their holistically oriented counterparts.
Online marketing agencies do not fully leverage the high potential of holistic marketers
There are SEO-specialised and full-stack online marketing agencies. Yet, the percentage of full-stack service providers in the market is rather small compared to the many online marketers and companies that have already adopted or are keen to adopt the symbiotic approach to SEO, content marketing, and online PR.
Agencies are thus missing out on a large group of potential customers. But would these holistically oriented marketers even make use of agency services, one might ask. They possibly prefer running their activities in-house.
Currently, about one third of agencies’ customers can be counted among the group of holistic marketers. So there is no indication that lacking interest or need would be an issue. Quite the reverse, over half of non-clients spread their budgets evenly across the disciplines. This fact implies that large parts of potential customers simply aren’t sufficiently targeted yet. Depending on the further development of the industry this may result either in holistically oriented customers shifting to in-house capacities over time or holistic online marketers not working with any agency yet, starting to outsource due to custom-tailored supply and reliable all-round service newly offered by agencies. Only one thing is certain: change will come either way.
Expectations on SEO agencies are rising while SEO budgets are stagnating
The price-performance-ratio of SEO agencies is not competitive in the eyes of the market. This is often due to a lack of transparency on the agency side or lack of knowledge on the customer side. Since Google’s various algorithm updates, the effort and time needed to deliver visible results in SEO have risen. However, less SEO-educated customers might have perceived this development as a decline in SEO agencies’ performance. Unfortunately, the fact that SEO activities take longer to come to fruition furthermore makes long-term commitment and thus higher costs inevitable for the client. Yet, at the same time SEO budgets are stagnating, which leads to an imbalance between expectations and outcome – namely dissatisfaction with SEO agencies.
Gain further insights into the state of supply and demand in SEO by taking a look at the infographic below or checking out our extensive PDF report including actionable recommendations: