If you have been researching, developing and implementing search engine optimization techniques for a significant period of time you may believe you have a solid understanding of which optimization features are essential, and which are search ranking gravy.  Even if you admittedly don’t have the faintest idea what factors make up the majority of a search engine algorithm, you may have experienced consistent success with a handful of techniques that are tested and proven to give a website a boost in the SERPs.

If you think you have your finger on the pulse of SEO, you may be interested to see where your optimization opinions fall compared to your digital marketing colleagues.  MarketingSherpa released the results of an SEO survey that was conducted reaching out to more than 1,500 members of the marketing industry.  The survey results are segmented in several ways including industry, organization size, SEO maturity phase and primary channel.  The results themselves are reported through over 150 charts, as well as tables and case briefings. Some of the insights include optimization and analytics tactics, budgets, integration with social media, and local search.  The complete 200 page 2012 Search Marketing Benchmark Report – SEO Edition will set you back $400 but the 18 page excerpt may be sufficient to curb your SEO curiosity.

I haven’t been shy about my conviction that relevant website content should be a priority for businesses and I still believe that the overwhelming majority of sites fall short of supplying valuable content on top level landing pages.  Judging by the survey results my website content convictions are shared by many of my digital marketing industry colleagues.  The report even has a full chapter devoted to The Importance of Content in a Search Marketing Strategy.  Many of the responses to the survey, however, offer some interesting differences to what my answers would have been to the questions.

The diversity of answers from marketers being surveyed for successes and challenges provide tremendous insight into the complexity of SEO.  What works for one business, product, service or industry may not work for the next SEO website challenge.  The contrasting experiences different SEO’s have, or the same SEO has for different websites, is a reminder that optimizing should not be performed with the search engine in mind.  Optimizing requires thoughtful analysis of the site visitor or consumer.  When products or industries differ, the consumers you are targeting will be seeking an alternative experience.

How has your optimizing experience compared to the insights revealed in the benchmark report?