According to a new Forrester study, 54% of respondents found websites through natural search results in 2012, up from 50% in 2011. Social networks were the second-most preferred discovery resource, with 32% using them in 2012, up from 25% in 2011 and 18% in 2010.
In what’s likely a surprise to many search marketers, just 18% of those surveyed said that they used paid search ads for website discovery. This despite the fact that paid search spending is still increasing, according to other studies that track marketing budgets.
Forrester attributes this to the mindset of many search marketers to prioritize sales over other goals. They also note that many organizations still silo their marketing groups, with sometimes literal physical barriers separating search, paid, social or other marketing teams, thwarting collaboration.
Contrary to a popular meme that suggests link building isn’t as important as it once was due to changes in search engine algorithms, respondents said that links were an important means of website discovery, with 28% saying they found websites from links on other sites.
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