SEO Industry Forecast: 80 Billion in Spending by 2020


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Breaking news


As 2017 comes to a close, digital marketers alike are turning their focus to what to expect in 2018. Borrell Associates just came out with their projection of SEO spending, and there were a few numbers that were pretty impressive.

For example, in 2008 businesses spent an estimated $204 billion in digital marketing services, and just seven years later that number has increased to nearly $613 billion spent worldwide.

That is a rate increase of over 200% in less than a decade. Borrell Associates predicts that by the year 2018, businesses in the United States will spend an estimated $72.02 billion of that for search engine optimization (SEO) services alone.

But get this- spending for SEO is also projected to increase by over 10% up to $79.27 billion by the year 2020. This is a dramatic increase from $65.26 billion spent on search engine optimization services in 2016.

In their recent data analysis, Borrell Associates takes a close look at where all of that money goes and has uncovered several significant spending trends.

total us spending for seo

Video Blogs (Vlogs)

Brands and agencies will be turning to video blogs a lot more. They will do this to keep in touch with current customers and to attract new clients. Video blogs are more engaging and mobile-friendly than the traditional written blog. For both existing customers and potential clients, video blogs hold much more appeal. The digital market recognized the need modern consumers had for more personal interactions with companies and responded to this demand with the creation of the video blog.

Consumers are turning to their mobile devices at dramatic rates, and the convenience of video blogs for busy customers cannot be matched.  Not only are video blogs more convenient than traditional blogs, decline due to brands to take on a personality more closely fitted to what today’s consumer expects.

Modern consumers expect to be able to engage more regularly with their favorite brands, products, and services and video blogs make this engagement possible. A three-minute video blog about services and specials will capture a client’s attention faster than a 1,000 word written blog containing the same information.

Visitor Site Analysis

Because it is critical for businesses, large and small, to track who visits their site and how their site was accessed- visitor site analysis is incredibly important. This is why visitor site analysis accounts for nearly $1.49 billion spent in the United States in regards to SEO spending.

Why is visitor site analysis so crucial? Through it, companies can analyze their website traffic, interpret it, and then used as a tool to fill in the gaps in a company’s digital marketing plan. Tracking and analyzing this data is essential for website and business growth, and as more and more potential customers turn to the internet to find the products and services, they need visitor site analysis.

Another perk of visitor site analysis is that businesses are cued into potential leads and can add opt-in options for clients wishing to stay updated about services, products, and promotions. Without this tool business owners are not able to track and analyze who visits their site, which search engine brought them to their website, and what it was they viewed while there.

Borrell Associates estimates that site visitor analysis spending will increase by over 212% by the year 2020 due to an increase in mobile and social-oriented searches being performed by consumers. Tracking mobile site visits is a more complex and multifaceted process accounting for the rise in spending for visitor site analysis over the next two years.

digital marketing spend by category

Local, Small Business SEO Services

While most larger brands and agencies can hire their own internal SEO staff, many smaller and locally owned businesses cannot afford the manpower to undertake such tasks from within.

It is far more cost-effective for those smaller companies to contract out for SEO services.

These smaller companies spend an estimated $48.01 billion on SEO services annually.

This means that smaller and locally managed businesses account for nearly two-thirds of the money paid for digital marketing services in the United States. This still leaves an impressive $24 billion to be spent by larger corporations in 2018.


Another big spender has been blog development, but that’s forecasted to decline. Blog development in the United States accounted for nearly $790 million in 2016. By the year 2018 blog development investments will drop to $700 million, and by the end of this decade, it is expected to decline an additional 40% leaving the annual amount of spent on blog development by American business owners at $280 million.

What we Might See Less of

Blog development will not be the only digital marketing platform to see a decrease in spending by businesses in the United States. Other digital marketing mediums that will begin to decline in the coming decade include:

  1. Directories which made up $6.61 billion of 2016’s SEO Spending
  2. The $410 million that is spent by businesses for email list purchases will decline due to the rise of more lucrative listing platforms such as visitor site analysis and opt-in management.

Long story short?

Search Engine Optimization is not slowing down anytime soon, and there is a good reason behind that. Consumers are using search engines more than ever before to find services and information. Get on the bandwagon, start your business on the right path and capture the consumers before it becomes harder to get noticed online.

About the Author

Sam Romain

Sam Romain

Digital marketing expert, data interpreter, and adventurous entrepreneur empowering businesses while fearlessly embracing the wild frontiers of fatherhood and community engagement.

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