Marketing trends change fast, and it seems like every year, they change a little bit faster. Every year for the past decade, there have been more social media platforms, more Google algorithm changes, and more consumer technology changes that have influenced SEO service, social media marketing, and online marketing in general on a fundamental level.
Responding to these changes, the authorities at Moz annually release the aggregated results of a survey distributed to thousands of online marketers. The 2021 version of this survey, featuring submissions from more than 3,600 online marketers, holds a number of key insights about the present and future of online marketing.
In-house marketers and marketers in agencies were both included in the survey, with about a 50 percent composition from each segment of the audience. Agency marketers were asked to list the services they provide for their clients, as a multiple-selection list. In total, the top five they selected were:
Keep in mind that these were not exclusively SEO agencies; instead, they were simply “marketing” or “online marketing” agencies in general. Yet, a whopping 94 percent of them are offering SEO services. This speaks to the enormous importance of SEO in the modern era. It’s not a gimmick or a fad or even a trend at this point; it’s a fundamental ingredient in almost any marketing campaign. What is surprising is that content creation and curation, despite being an integral part of SEO and SEM (and social media marketing, from my perspective), was only offered by 75 percent of respondents.
In-house and agency marketers alike rely on a number of tools to get their jobs done. Without these automated, aggregated, functional systems, the manual processes of online marketing would be overwhelming.
First, Moz asked respondents about their favorite tools for SEO—these are online or offline services that help search marketers understand, plan, execute, and troubleshoot SEO campaigns. The top five most popular responses are listed below:
Other popular entries included Yoast, SEMrush, Bing Webmaster Tools, Majestic SEO, and Ahrefs. As for the analytics side of thing, which was treated as a separate category, Google Analytics earned a massive 91%, with the next highest competitor being Crazy Egg with a comparatively lowly 23%.
It’s plain to see that Google is still the top dog when it comes to planning and executing an SEO campaign, from its Webmaster Tools and Keyword Planner tools to the Analytics service that so many of us rely on to interpret results. Moz is close behind, with OSE and Moz Pro earning the third and fourth spot, respectively.
In a related category, Moz asked respondents to select their favorite content marketing tools (for finding and researching topics, curating content, or writing online content). The top five results are below:
Other popular tools mentioned included Fresh Web Explorer, Feedly, Disqus, Google+ Trending, and HARO (Help a Reporter Out). What you’ll notice here is the stark drop in percentages compared to SEO tools. With top SEO tools earning upwards of 90 percent, the roughly 60 percent earned by Google Alerts and Google Trends is relatively low. What this implies is that there are fewer people using content tools compared to SEO tools, and that the distribution is more even across other competitors.
In an effort to gauge the relative popularity of social media platforms for marketers, Moz also asked respondents which platforms they use for their in-house or client marketing campaigns. The top five results were:
Other results in the top 10 included Pinterest, Instagram, Reddit, Tumblr, and Quora. Most of the top five is no real surprise, given the tools for advertisers and audience composition of those popular institutions. The only real shock is Google+ getting the third rank despite its declining popularity and seeming abandonment by Google itself. Also surprising is the lack of Snapchat’s presence, despite its skyrocketing popularity over similar apps.
In a separate section, Moz asked marketers to describe how they spent most of their time, outlining the main activities that constitute their days as online marketers. In order, the top five responses were:
You’ll notice that analytics claimed the top spot here, and for good reason. Analytics is what allows marketers to prove their value, and simultaneously perform research that leads to improvements in the campaign. Keyword research as a second place finisher is a bit surprising, considering the declining influence of keywords in Google’s search results. Site audits, content creation, and social media marketing all fall into place generally according to popular expectations and relative importance.
Even though much has changed in terms of technology and consumer behavior, much of the fundamentals for online marketers has remained the same. Agencies haven’t been spooked out of performing SEO, or even out of using keywords as a basis for research, despite Google’s updates rapidly shifting toward an exclusively semantic form of search. Similarly, the popularity of social media platforms hasn’t been shaken much from previous years, despite newly emerging competitors and new data about the effectiveness of previously popular platforms.
Hopefully, this data has introduced you to some new tools, new trends, and new platforms to use in your own marketing efforts. You won’t find any revolutionary paradigm shifts compared to the results of last year, but you do see the makings for a stable course forward; SEO hasn’t been compromised so far, so it’s likely to remain a pivotal marketing institution for the next several years at least. Similarly, analytics (and by extension, Google Analytics) remains the most important element of any marketing program—at least to the people in the thick of it.