Of the merchants surveyed, the largest group (37.9%) said that over half of their online marketing budgets are spent on SEM. Also in the good news category, the largest group (30.2%) said that more than half of their online revenue is attributable to search engine marketing.
The survey asked the merchants for a general status check up, comparing SEM’s performance to that of the merchant’s other marketing methods. 57.4% said that SEM performed “much better” or “better” than their other marketing methods. 17.2% said they performed the same. 12.7% said worse (only 0.4% said much worse) and 12.3% said they don’t know. So a full 25% of those surveyed think search marketing performs worse than other marketing methods or have no idea how it compares.
The merchants also indicated improvements they were making to their sites to help improve their search engine rankings. Some of the top responses:
Other responses included increasing use of header tags (60.6%), custom landing pages (41.5%) and better use of web analytics (53.7%). I hope the 25% that are having trouble getting SEM to work (or understanding it) are in that last category. (I also think they should all head on over to SEOmoz’s newly updated Ranking Factors Report.)
One final tidbit: 37.3% say PPC performs better. 16.6% say PPC and SEO perform equally well. 46.1% say SEO performs better.
For lots more data on merchants’ PPC and natural search marketing habits, see the full report on Internet Retailer.