April 30, 2009, 12:00 AM

Retailers are planning to spend more time figuring out the mysteries of natural search

By 2013, search engine marketers will spend an estimated $3.85 billion on search engine optimization programs, an increase of 111.5% from an estimated $1.82 billion in 2009, eMarketer reports.

Everyone knows the power of search engine marketing, but many retailers still struggle with the mysteries of optimizing their web sites for natural or organic search rankings. That’s why many retailers as well as other marketers will be dedicating more time and resources over the next several years sprucing up their search engine optimization strategies, research firm eMarketer Inc. says in a recent report.

By 2013, search engine marketers will spend an estimated $3.85 billion on optimization programs, an increase of 111.5% from an estimated $1.82 billion in 2009. “Marketers who do search engine optimization within their companies likely choose that option to keep costs down,” eMarketer senior analyst David Hallerman says.

Despite the economic benefits and higher page rankings that effective natural search can generate, many retailers and other marketers still struggle with implementing an effective program. “Marketers sometimes find the search engine optimization process complex,” Hallerman says. “Many often call it a ‘black box’ technique, since optimization requires deciphering the hidden ranking algorithms of search engines. For some marketers, that means full-blown search engine optimization depends on help from an agency.”

At the same time that web retailing and other marketers are implementing more natural search options, they also will be spending more on other forms of search engine marketing, including pay-per-click and contextual advertising, eMarketer says.

Overall spending on paid search advertising will total an estimated $14.72 billion in 2013, up 65% from $8.9 billion in 2009, it says. Spending on contextual advertising programs, which scan the text of sites for keywords and return ads to a web page based on what the user is viewing, will increase by 46.9% from $2.45 billion in 2009 to $3.60 billion in four years, the research firm says.

But also by 2013, when total U.S. search marketing advertising will reach an estimated $23.38 billion, marketers will be spending more on search engine optimization than on contextual advertising.

“For companies that especially need to retain customers due to limited customer spending in down times, marketers will look increasingly toward search engine optimization as they try to find new business,” Hallerman says. “As marketers better understand the purpose of web site optimization in their overall campaigns, spending for search engine optimization will grow more each year than for the other three types of search marketing-and more than the total online ad market.”


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