Search experts may have a lot of work to do on their own performances but a new survey shows this is not making their roles any less important to the companies they serve.

New research from search marketing software group OneHydra shows that SEO is either “integral” or “important” to 82% of UK retailers despite the time it takes to optimise a website.

The research showed that on average, just 20% of requested site changes are being met per year by optimisation gurus, with 67% of the 200 e-commerce marketing managers surveyed noting a rough timescale of three months for these adjustments to be put in place.

The blame does not always fall at the feet of an agency, though, as 25% of the respondents were found to be managing their SEO in-house and 37% opted for a blend of the two approaches. There is also a lack of trust between UK retailers and SEO agencies, with only 30% of companies admitting to staying with just one partner over the last five years.

“Disappointed and “frustrated”

Finding an SEO agency for the long term may enable retailers to develop more trustworthy partnerships with the experts they employ. However, further readings from OneHydra only made it easier to see why so many companies are deciding to move from partner to partner.

When asked for their general views on agencies, 32% of retailers branded them “expensive”, also agreeing that they failed to see clear results.

A mere 9% saw them as good value for money, with this group dwarfed by the 28% who labelled them either “disappointing” or “frustrating” due to their failure to carry out certain recommendations.

A total of 32% of retailers criticised SEO agencies for being too expensive, and with a quarter of companies (25%) spending between £50,001 – £100,000 on SEO, a demand for noticeable improvements seemed justified.  

Nowhere to turn

Despite their frosty relationships with agencies, not one of the 200 professionals claimed that SEO was not important to their organisation’s business model, and the option of taking things in-house may not be as easy as it seems.   

Some of the most challenging SEO tasks to UK retailers include content creation (35%), editing the content of pages and meta tags (28%) and changing HTML markup (29%). A further 70% of the group said a lack of technical resources prevented them from implementing vital site changes.

The report called on agencies to remedy the situation by putting forward more realistic changes for companies to implement. OneHydra also advised search experts to focus on improving their human creative element, thus helping retailers fulfill their content demands.