2012 SEO Industry Survey Results Share Salaries, Tools, Tactics & More

SEOMoz has released the results of their second biennial SEO Industry Survey, following up on the success of the first in 2010. It offers a broad look at salaries, the paid and free tools we tend to use, what tactics we focus on, and more.

Dr. Pete Meyers compiled the results and cautions readers to take them for what they are worth; there are factors in any survey that can skew results, so be aware. “So, who are we exactly, and how is it that we’re bucking the trend of a recession that just won’t seem to end?” Dr. Pete asks.

He continued, “I’m going to try to answer that question and give you a glimpse into the changing world of internet marketers. First, a couple of quick warnings about the data:

  • This was an online survey, and respondents were self-selected
  • The SEOmoz audience may not be representative of the industry as a whole
  • SEOmoz readers are naturally biased toward SEOmoz tools and events
  • Math is a fickle mistress
  • I have a two-year-old and am very, very tired”

It’s OK, Dr. Pete, we forgive you! While these insights aren’t necessarily definitive, they do give us valuable perspective on our industry as a whole. Without further ado, here are a few of the findings you may find interesting.

What Are the Duties of an SEO in 2012?

What sort of tasks do we spend our time doing? Social and SEO actions dominate.

  • 76% Social – Set up/ran a Facebook business page
  • 74% Analytics – Analyzed/tracked site speed and page-load times
  • 69% Competitive – Analyzed competitors’ back-links for opportunities
  • 64% Competitive – Analyzed competitors’ content for inspiration/opportunities
  • 64% Social – Set up a Google+ business profile
  • 63% Analytics – Analyzed [not provided] data in Google Analytics
  • 59% Content – Started a new blog or invested heavily in blogging
  • 58% On-page – Used rel=”canonical” to control duplicate content
  • 57% Analytics – Employed conversion tracking to improve ROI
  • 55% SEO – Focused on Local SEO: Google Places, local keyword targeting, etc.
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Content is all the rage, but what kinds of content are SEOs spending time on? Blog posts lead, followed closely by social media content and articles/guides.


Which Tools Do We Prefer?

Dr. Pete wrote in the results report, “Not to exaggerate, but Google Analytics just crushes everything else.” Indeed, so what else are we using? For paid tools, SEOs seem to prefer:

  • 55% SEOmoz & Open Site Explorer 
  • 17% Majestic SEO
  • 17% Raven
  • 13% SEMRush
  • 10% Screaming Frog
  • 9% Market Samurai
  • 8% Advanced Web Ranking
  • 8% Link Assistant, Rank Tracker, etc.
  • 7% Wordtracker
  • 7% Spyfu

Pay no mind to the disproportionately huge number of SEOMoz users; this is to be expected, given that they distributed the survey throughout their network.

As for free solutions, Google Webmaster Tools leads the pack by a wide margin. Again, Dr. Pete warns of the skew towards SEOMoz given that they led the survey. The rest of the free tools preferred by SEOs are as follows:


How Much Money Do SEOs Make?

Those who own their own businesses make the most money in SEO, the survey finds. More consultants and freelancers fall into the under $30,000 salary range than any other. SEOMoz broke the salary ranges down for In-House, Agency, Consultants, and Owners, as follows:


Salaries data includes only U.S., Canada, UK, Australia/New Zealand.

More Interesting Insights from the 2012 SEO Industry Survey

Here are a few other interesting tidbits from the survey:

  • 93 percent of SEOs use Google Analytics, annihilating all the rest; the next most used analytics tool is WordPress Stats, at just 16 percent.
  • 17 percent of respondents spend more than $1,000 per month on tools and software. The largest segment, 17.5 percent, spend $101-$300.
  • 34.4 percent of SEOs reported spending $1,000/month or more on consulting and outsourcing, while 16.4 percent said they spend nothing at all.
  • 49 percent of respondents still prepare and send monthly client reports, while 32 percent do so weekly.
  • 92 percent of respondents offer SEO as a service; 82 percent offer analytics, and 71 percent link building.
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The report describes the “typical” respondent as a man, 26-34 years old, based in the United States. He likely works in-house at a 2-5 person company and started in-house, as well. He makes $30,000-$45,000 per year.

Hats off to the SEOMoz team for all of the legwork involved in collecting and compiling these results, and to Dr. Pete for the analysis.

This summary really just touches on a few of the high points of the report; view all of the findings at SEOMoz for a more complete picture.

Are there any results you find particularly surprising? Let us know in the comments!

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