A Picture of You: Results of the 2015 Moz Blog Reader Survey

Posted by Trevor-Klein

The Moz Blog is built to help you all become better marketers. We couldn’t possibly succeed in that goal if we didn’t have a good sense for who you are and what you’d like to (and need to) see, so we did what anyone would do to get that sense: ask.

This summer, we released a survey to ask you all about yourselves, your work, and your thoughts about the Moz Blog. This is the second time we’ve done this in the last several years, which makes these results all the more exciting—now we have trending data.

The results from the survey are below, with a list of key takeaways at the end of the post (feel free to scroll for the tl;dr). We’ve included stats, where available, from the 2013 survey as well, giving the data a historical benchmark.

We’ll use what we learned to keep making the Moz Blog more relevant, more actionable, and more valuable for you all, and we’d like to extend our sincerest thanks to the more than 750 of you who responded.

Let’s get down to it!

Who our readers are

What is your job title?

Back in 2013, as as we expanded our products to emphasize areas of marketing outside of just SEO, we all thought our community would expand along with them. When we released this survey in December of that year, more than six months after rebranding from SEOmoz and a few months after we rolled out our new suite of software, still very little had changed.

Now, nearly two years later, after countless blog posts about content marketing, local search marketing, social media, branding, and more, we’re only just beginning to see a shift.

I’m normally not a huge fan of word clouds, but they’re fairly effective in illustrating things like this. Here’s a cloud made from all of your job titles in this year’s survey:

JobTitles.png

And here’s the cloud from the 2013 survey, nearly two years ago:

Job Title Wordle 2.PNG

It’s remarkable how similar the two are, but we can begin to see the change.

Our audience is clearly predominantly marketing managers with a heavy emphasis on SEO. The word SEO is smaller in this year’s cloud, though, and “digital” and “content” are larger. It definitely looks as though we’re seeing more content marketers among our audience, and the numbers back that up.

In a numerical breakdown of the words we see most often (and the total number of responses in each survey was nearly identical), “seo” drops from 233 to 194, and “content” jumps from 34 to 51. Here are the rest of the most common words seen, along with the number of times they occurred in each year’s survey:

Word

2015 survey

2013 survey

seo

194

233

marketing

235

169

manager

137

154

specialist

84

55

director

61

52

analyst

38

44

online

35

43

consultant

24

42

strategist

44

37

content

51

34

ceo

15

31

search

21

30

marketer

19

26

owner

20

24

social

15

9

chief

3

3

What percentage of your day-to-day work involves SEO?

The idea that our audience is finally broadening is supported by another statistic: the amount of SEO that our readers do in their day-to-day work. Whereas the 2013 survey skewed a bit more toward the high end of the scale, there’s a significant spike in responses between 0-10% this year. The median value reported dropped from 60% to 50%.

On a scale of 1-5, how advanced would you say your knowledge of SEO is?

The plot thickens, though, when we turn to actual SEO ability. We asked everyone to self-report their knowledge of SEO, on a scale from 1 (“I’m a beginner”) to 5 (“I’m an industry expert”), and the similarity to the 2013 survey is staggering:

There are fewer people reporting themselves as industry experts, but not many. So, people have the same skill level, but SEO is less a part of their day-to-day work. To me, that implies their skill sets are growing, and the industry is simply demanding a broader gamut of work from them. They’re becoming more and more T-shaped.

Do you work in-house, or at an agency/consultancy?

One note before we dive into this one: There should have been an additional option on the survey for independent freelancers. Without that option, we assume (since those folks do some of their own work and some work for clients) that most of them fell into the “both” category below, but we can’t really be sure.

With that grain of salt in mind, there are clearly more in-house marketers than agency/consulting marketers in our audience:

At the same time, nearly half of our readers have some work for external clients. It’s good to know that the set of skills unique to that type of work are relevant on our blog.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your work today?

As it was in 2013, this is my favorite question we asked. It was open-ended, and thus was such an easy question for respondents to skip (not many people usually want to type their own answers in a survey), but 621 people responded out of just over 750 total times the survey was taken. There were some easily visible recurring answers, and the top 20 are as follows:

Challenge

# of Mentions

Constant changes in the industry/technology

73

Lack of knowledge and unrealistic expectations of colleagues/clients/bosses

65

Convincing clients of value of the work

60

Lack of time

53

Content creation/curation

35

Link building

33

Team/resource constraints

33

Analytics

30

Proving ROI

28

Overwhelmed by too much content, too many tools

26

Budget constraints

23

Finding and promoting to the right audience

22

Communication/trust issues, politics

18

Rankings

17

CRO

14

Juggling different kinds of work/clients

14

Diversifying skill sets and proritizing channels

14

Complexity of work

14

Integration of siloed marketing teams

12

Reporting

12

Of note, half as many people noted content marketing as a great challenge this year as noted it in 2013. If that’s any indication, we’re getting better at it, or at least are better able to wrap our heads around it than we were before.

Above all, though, the top issues are largely the same: The industry is constantly changing, and it’s incredibly difficult to find time to stay abreast of those changes. There’s too much shoddy content to sift through (likely thanks to the rise of content marketing), and clients and bosses still largely don’t understand the value in our work, as it’s quite difficult to prove the ROI of what we do.

How our readers read

How often do you read posts on the Moz Blog?

We asked readers how often they read the Moz Blog (which has a new post published nearly every weekday), and there’s definitely a difference from 2013:

In all likelihood, this is largely due to the broader gamut of topics we include in our editorial calendar these days. We now have content marketers in our audience who aren’t always interested in advanced SEO, and technical SEO veterans who aren’t interested in brand strategy. For that reason, more people are reading regularly, but fewer are reading every day. This also likely has something to do with the lack of time we noticed in the question above.

On which type(s) of devices do you prefer to read blog posts?

This was surprising in 2013, but the numbers were even more extreme this time around:

A whopping 71% of blog readers prefer to read posts on a desktop or laptop machine, up from 68% a couple of years ago. Just about all the numbers are the same here; it seems as if a group of folks who switched between laptops and tablets decided they’d rather stick to full machines.

Of note here is a theory we had last year that Moz Blog readers decided they preferred desktops because our blog wasn’t mobile-friendly. We had, in effect, trained them to prefer reading on full screens, because it was just plain difficult to read on mobile devices. By the time this year’s survey was sent out, though, the blog had been mobile-friendly for more than two months. There’s always the chance that habits take more than two months to break, but if you ask me, that’s evidence that our readers really do prefer to read posts on a laptop or desktop.

What our readers think of the blog

What percentage of the posts on the Moz Blog would you say are relevant to you and your work?

While there’s not much change from the 2013 numbers, we’re still quite happy to see that the majority of readers say that the majority of posts are relevant to their work. There’s a slightly greater concentration of posts in the 11-40% range than there was before, which we can expect to go along with a broadening of post topics. Interesting to also see an increase in responses in the 91-100% range—I’d guess an increase in marketing generalists, and fewer folks with narrower sets of skills, leads to that change. (I’d love to hear any other theories in the comments!)

Do you feel the Moz Blog posts are generally too basic, too advanced, or about right?

One thing we regularly wonder is whether the posts we’re publishing are too basic to actually be valuable, or if they sail right over the heads of our readers. As it turns out, it’s pretty well balanced:

The inner circle in the donut chart above is data from 2013. The numbers from this year (the outer circle) are nearly identical, moving a few (statistically insignificant) responses from “Too basic” to “Just right.”

We also asked readers who didn’t say posts were “just right” to quantify the extreme to which they thought the posts were either too basic or too advanced:

This is interesting—people who see posts as too advanced feel more strongly about that response than the people who see posts as too basic. That implies we have some true beginners among our readers who would benefit from coverage of the basics in easy-to-digest formats.

In general, what do you think about the length of Moz Blog posts?

This is a question we didn’t ask last time. We wanted to get a sense for whether readers had any strong feelings about the length of posts. Our suspicion was pretty well confirmed:

More than 1/5 of responses indicated our posts are too long, a much greater percentage than we’d like to see. This is really good feedback; we do tend to err on the comprehensive side, but could certainly put more effort into removing extraneous text from posts.

What, if anything, would you like to see different about the Moz Blog?

We also asked an open-ended question about whatever you all would like to see different about the Moz Blog. Reading through the responses was one of the most heartening things I’ve done in my time as the manager of the Moz Blog—a heartfelt thank-you to everyone who offered words of encouragement and ideas for how we can make this blog even better.

Here were some of the most common themes:

Request

# of responses

More step-by-step / how-to guides

37

More WBF / video-based content

27

More case studies

22

Too wordy/verbose; more to-the-point

18

Shorter posts

18

More posts

11

More Rand, Dr. Pete, Cyrus

11

More international content & translations

11

More accessible for beginners

9

More explicit takeaways for each post

8

More interactive elements

8

Better categorization / IA

7

More technical posts

7

More posts from respected influencers

6

More news / timely analysis

6

What our readers want to see

This was a telling question when we read through the responses in 2013, and not a lot has changed:

Which of the following topics would you like to learn more about?

Search engine trends, Mobile SEO, and CRO are all new categories we added this year. Other than that, the top three remain the same—advanced SEO, content marketing, and data analysis. Social media was bumped down a few spots, and branding was bumped down a few more spots. Design/UX was bumped up significantly, and one of the biggest gainers was basic SEO—something that, until recent years, we didn’t see a lot of demand for on our blog.

More than anything, it’s pretty clear that SEO and content marketing are still the hottest topics, and there’s far more demand for advanced SEO than there is for basic SEO. That said, we’re definitely seeing demand for a wide spectrum.

Which of the following types of posts would you most like to see on the Moz Blog?

We added a few options to this question this year to try and get a better sense for your preferences. Two of the strongest categories weren’t chosen quite as often, causing a general flattening of the graph, but it’s still quite easy to get a feel for what you all like to see by checking out the results:

A word we often use to describe great posts is “actionable.” If readers can finish the post and immediately have a new tool or tactic at their disposal that they’re excited to use, we’ve done our jobs well. It’s easy to see that reflected in the above results. Making people think is good. Getting them to put their own work in new contexts is great. But the posts that really win are those that show instead of telling, offering readers a quick lesson that helps immediately improve their work.

What happens now

Now we go to work.

This is a wealth of data that can help us continue to improve the Moz Blog, and the next step is to put it all into action. Here’s a good start:

Primary takeaways

  • The greatest challenges faced by our audience haven’t changed much in two years. Keeping up with a constantly changing industry. Convincing other people (clients, bosses, etc.) that channels like SEO and content marketing — while long-term investments with fuzzy ROI — are worthwhile investments. You all are constantly battling to have work in the first place, let alone actually get that work done, and there isn’t enough time to get all that done. Our job now is to take those challenges (and the rest that you all named above) and find industry experts who can help you through them.
  • The traditional blog format, where all posts are published to a single channel to the same audience, is no longer cutting it. Our range of topics is broad enough and our audience diverse enough that we need to find better ways to deliver our content to readers, helping them filter out what they don’t need and more quickly hone in on what they do.
  • The vast (vast) majority of our readers still prefer to read blog posts on desktops and laptops, so while we’re happy the Moz Blog is finally responsive, we won’t shy away from developing features because they primarily benefit desktop/laptop users.
  • We have a growing contingent of beginners in our audience. While the majority of readers are more experienced and advanced, we should focus on making all of our posts as accessible as possible, reducing unnecessary jargon and linking to additional resources. Nobody should feel like a post goes straight over their heads, or like they’re not experienced enough to glean value from it.
  • Two full years after the rebrand from SEOmoz, our audience is shifting ever so slightly toward a broader skill set than its SEO roots. It is continuing to become more T-shaped, as even the experts among us are finding less of their day-to-day work to do with SEO. Our posts (while never forgetting those roots) should continue to reflect that diversification.
  • Through their self-identification as agency employees or consultants as well as their predominant challenge in convincing clients their work is worth time and money, it’s clear that agency professionals with client-based work make up a large portion of our audience. We haven’t posted much to specifically help this group, and will likely make more of an effort along those lines.
  • There is a general call for shorter posts, but it’s not simply shorter: It’s more concise. More compendious. We’ll work on continuing to hone our editorial rigor to ensure we’re cutting verbose language and off-topic rambling. We certainly don’t want to make you all read things you don’t need to.
  • With that concision in mind, we’ll address the clear demand for more case studies and more actionable how-tos and step-by-step guides.

All of that, combined with your stated preferences for topics and styles, gives us a great place to start making improvements.

Thanks again to everyone who sent us their thoughts; we couldn’t do what we do without you. =)

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