Search Engine Optimization, SEO Report 2017 by Gusture

SEO Industry Report 2017: Facts and Interesting statistics

In 2016, in the US alone, $65.26 billion was spent in search engine optimization. This spending will rise to $79.27 billion by 2020.

SEO has become very important for websites, though many still consider it as nothing more than a passing fad. No matter what anyone is searching for, there are thousands of web pages offering content about it. So, the competition is high and it is very hard indeed to get noticed. This is where SEO comes into play.

Search Engine Optimization refers to optimizing a website in such a way that it ranks higher in search results. But already it the definition is blurring as SEO is growing and changing and applying to other areas like local results to knowledge graph based results.

The SEO industry is growing and evolving continuously. The SEO techniques used today are very different from those used two years ago. The reason behind this quick evolution is the changes made in the search engine algorithms.

Search engine companies like Google, Bing, etc. are always trying to fine tune and upgrade their algorithms to deliver better user experience and relevant results to users. And SEO has had to change in order to keep up with these upgrades. As a result where keyword stuffing was once the norm, now the focus is on good quality content.

The SEO industry has survived for a long time and its graph is showing no sign of coming down. A study published by Borrell Associates found that in 2016 companies spent $613 billion in SEO and digital marketing globally. This is three times the amount that was spent in 2008.

In 2016, in the US alone, $65.26 billion was spent in search engine optimization. This spending will rise to $72.02 billion in 2018 and $79.27 billion by 2020. But interestingly, two third of this money was actually spent by startups and small local businesses, only one third was spent by bigger more established companies. This doesn’t mean that larger companies don’t require SEO anymore, the expenditure is less for them because most large businesses have developed dedicated SEO units internally diminishing their need for outsourcing SEO related projects.

So why is SEO growing so hard and fast? There are quite a few good reasons for this perpetual growth, and no matter what critics say, SEO is here to stay.

  • Searching for stuff has reached new heights since smartphones came into being. Earlier people could search only when they had a desktop or laptop handy, which owing to their size couldn’t be all the time. But with smartphones, searching on the go has risen drastically, and this trend is likely to continue well into the future. The present generation is very tech savvy and so will be the upcoming generation of users. So, the number of search per user will keep growing and so will the need for SEO.
  • With the world becoming more and more dependent on technology and smartphones and tablets gaining more market share, the number of users who use search engines will also increase. Another factor contributing to the increase in user base is the increasing availability and lowering costs of the internet. In the future as internet becomes available to more and more people, search engine users will increase proportionally.
  • Though Google and Bing are the most well known search engines, they are not the only ones. Localized search engines and other small players are entering the market and trying to make their presence known. This means that there are now more opportunities for search visibility. Every search engine algorithm works differently so the SEO techniques used to increase visibility in search results for Google might not work on another search engine. There are also platform specific search engines like YouTube search, Google Play search etc.
  • Traditional advertising such as print ads, flyers etc. don’t hold much water nowadays. TV ads have not yet gone obsolete, but even that might change. So, most companies are now opting for online marketing to spread the word about their products and services. SEO and digital marketing are undeniably tied to each other and as demand for online marketing goes up, so will SEO thrive.
  • SEO has come a long way, which means that SEO companies have learned from their mistakes and gained experience. New developments in this field and the need to keep up with search engines and their new algorithms has led to companies coming up with increasingly intricate and sophisticated SEO campaigns.
SEO Industry Report 2017 by
Number of monthly searches on Google for SEO industry and other industries compared.
Some interesting statistics

  • There are 863 million websites worldwide that mention SEO and about 164,000 videos in YouTube are indexed under SEO category. And on a monthly average there are 248,000 tweets about SEO on Twitter.
  • Every month about 9 million people search for SEO and related terms on Google of which 2.24 million are Americans.
  • There are 13 million blog posts floating around the internet with the word SEO included in the title.
  • March is the month of the year when people search about SEO the most, and India is the country most interested in this industry with a highest search volume.

Despite these impressive statistics, it’s not all fun and games for the SEO industry. There are some obstacles that might mean a slowdown in the future.

Increasing cost

Right now companies are spending more and more on SEO services, that means more and more people are trying to cash on in the boom, so competition is increasing. Also with passing time, the intricacy of SEO techniques and projects are increasing and so is the cost. It will be fine as long as SEO keeps getting results, but eventually, the return on investment for SEO will not be as good as it is now and the spending will taper out.

Search engines are getting smarter

Search engines never really liked SEO, they have been trying to close up the loopholes that SEO exploits and reach a point where it is obsolete. There are already hundreds of criteria that influence ranking, and soon there will be more. It is already very hard to assess factors that influence search engine ranking and at this point, the situation can only get worse in the future.

Digital assistants

Digital assistants are taking up prominent roles and they use search parameters that are quite different from how a human user would search. SEO cannot hope to keep up with these alternative search methods as they often forgo rankings completely.

That being said it doesn’t mean that SEO will die out completely it is more likely to branch out and become something else compared to what it is today. Though it’s hard to predict with any certainty what the future holds, but going by the trends, SEO does seem to have a lot of potential for growth at least for the next few years.

This report is authored by Mohith Agadi for Gusture Research.

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Published/Updated: July 26, 2017.


1 comment

  • Search engine optimization is the best thing to do when it comes to increasing your brands visibility on search engines. It has been seen that SEO can have a better ROI (Return on Investment) than traditional forms of marketing like television or print ads.


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