Reviewing the Moz 2014 Industry Survey

This week the guys at Moz released their 2014 industry survey, which reviews the trends in digital marketing over the last 12 months. The report touches on some really interesting topics.

Moz (formally SEOMoz) has to be one of my most visited sites of 2013, and 2014 seems to be no different. With their recent change of senior level roles (watch the 30 minute interview with Rand and Sarah here) there’s exciting things ahead for the Seattle-based company.

This week the guys at Moz released their 2014 industry survey, which reviews the changes and trends in digital marketing over the last 12 months.

In the words of the Moz boys (and girls) themselves…

From the distracting flutter of Hummingbird to the deafening silence of (not provided), the past year was eventful for the online marketing industry. Once again, we set out to discover how the year’s changes impacted your jobs, clients, and tactics. Over 3,700 of you participated in this year’s industry survey (thank you!), and we’ve compiled the results below.

The report touches on some really interesting trends and topics – Wanting to give my two-pennies worth, I’ve chosen some of the areas relevant to my digital marketing experiences to talk about.

International presence & multi-lingual optimisation

Optimising for multiple languages has its challenges – Primarily doing all the same SEO work without the in-depth knowledge of what keywords or content actually is. There’s obvious ways around this, but it can make things a little more tricky. With 47% of Moz users reporting optimisation for two or more languages, it’s clear that one digital marketer can, and should, cover multiple regions websites.

One of the issues I’ve recently faced is slow page speeds for countries in the far east, such as China. This is exasperated by the ‘Great firewall of China’ scenario. One solution is to move Asian sites to a physically closer server, although this can be costly if the problem occurs across multiple continents. An alternative may be to consider Content Distribution Networks, such as CloudFlare. CDN’s act as a middle-man between a server and a user, caching content on multiple servers across the globe to improve delivery times. They’re also great at identifying and protecting DDOS attacks, giving that extra level of web security.

Top marketing activities – Content marketing on the rise

It’s great to see Analytics still topping the list, meaning digital marketing is still a responsive subject and isn’t ever stationary for too long, keeping me (and other peers) on their toes. Importantly, and topically after the article from Matt Cutts last week on the fall and decline of Guest Blogging, link building has finally fallen out of the top five activities.

Perhaps the most interesting change since 2012 is the climb of content marketing from #5 to #2. Whilst Moz mention that this may in part be down to the term being used more broadly compared to 2012, I think that content marketing has definitely seen an increase over the last 24 months.

What’s interesting is the potential of content marketing versus it’s acceptance within marketing departments. There seems to be a disconnect between the potential ROI of content (when utilizing channels such as social, email and paid ads) and the perceived value of that content within in-house teams. Sure, there are companies that are starting to (and successfully) performing this type of activity, but it still seems from my perspective that there’s a long way to go. Thankfully, the report mentions that content marketing has seen the biggest year-on-year increase, with 71% of respondents reporting increased demand.

Personally, I’d like to see a few great tools in 2014 which can measure the real benefits of content marketing – Not only the clicks, likes and shares but also the reach, strength and passion behind discussions. Of cause, some companies are already beginning to take advantage of these metrics (alongside ROI).

Top marketing metrics

I wrote an article not long ago on changing the metrics that digital marketing professional’s use in 2014, so it’s good to see that Moz’s report follows down a similar path. Metrics such as conversions, revenue and leads (which are further along the sales funnel) are in position one, two and three, respectively, followed by unique visits and rankings.

Rankings surprised me some-what, as there’s a big move away from SERP positions in recent months (& years). One possible reason rankings are still ranking (heh!) at number five could be due to the survey participants, as I continue to experience discussions around “positions within Google” when doing freelance work. Perhaps this attitude made it way from independent’s clients into the Moz report?

In-house vs agency vs independents

Another really interesting one. I’m part of an in-house team, have worked with agencies and do occasional independent work, too. Analysis activities are driving in-house and agency work as mentioned above, whilst content creation pips analysis to the post for independent digital marketers. I would definitely agree with this – Most of my freelance clients agree that they need to improve their online presence (if they even have one) but aren’t sure what they need (or have) to promote.

Keyword research and site audits, generally considered the less glamorous side of digital marketing, seems to be out-sourced to agencies, whilst brand strategy is still very much an in-house (and independent) activity.

Coping with (Not provided)

One of the big “things” of 2013, Google’s introduction of HTTPS to all its searches meant there was an uproar of discussion within the industry. Moz did a whiteboard Tuesday on it, along many articles, whilst I too wrote an article on its effect for digital marketers.

As mentioned in the Moz survey results, respondents selected on average three strategies to get around the situation – There’s certainly not a simple solution or a quick fix. That being said, the situation is far from bleak, with a range of solutions being mentioned within the community.

The most popular of these (68.8%) was to ‘focus on conversion rates and performance metrics’, followed by ‘focus on landing page traffic’ (66.2%). These two strategies could give a good estimate into what keywords are producing conversions which as we’ve seen is the most important metric.

There’s a bit of a drop for the other strategies, with ‘Google Webmaster Tools’ (57.9%) and ‘Other data’ (40.5%) coming in third and fourth. Despite this, I think that using Webmaster tools and AdWords data alongside conversions and landing page data is my strategy of choice.

Top social platforms

Whilst YouTube suffered a fall between 2012 (49%) and 2013 (38%) Google Plus saw a decent increase of 15% over the same period. This is probably slightly biased towards the marketing community, as Moz acknowledge, but I predict that percentage may be even higher next year with Google’s changes of how it ranks results (particularly the addition of Hummingbird).

Facebook and Twitter keep their first and second positions (it’d be interesting to see if this was flipped when reviewing only B2B marketers) but surprisingly LinkedIn was in fourth place with only 46.6%. Again, I think if comparing B2B against B2C we may have seen a significant difference in LinkedIn’s engagement.

Wrapping it all up – 2014 industry survey conclusions

It’s another great piece of content (note: content marketing) from Moz. Content marketing seems to be the hot topic coming out of 2013 and into 2014, replacing increasingly unpopular link building as the SEO method of choice.

Whilst I believe there’s still a long way to go until “content marketing” is as commonplace in the marketing department’s vocabulary as “Guest Blogging” or “Eshots” (See my article on buzzwords) it’s great to see such a massive increase year-on-year.

Analysis still leads the way in digital marketing, and the top three metrics used to measure success seem to be moving in the right direction – further down the sales funnel (and closer to return on investment!).

Finally, in a small almost footnote size block of text at the bottom of the report, it mentions budgets and their rise since 2012 – Which is great news. It’s going to be a great (content filled) year for digital marketers.

Not checked out the report yet? Do it now »

John Alexander Rowley

An enthusiastic digital marketing professional passionately dedicated to increasing the online presence of businesses and individuals in order to improve engagement and ROI.

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