We recently sent a survey about our product suite to a number of prospects in the search marketing industry. The (anonymous) results told us a lot about the profile of a typical search marketer, from job title to PPC spend to favorite tools to size of company.
One of the questions was "What are the most annoying, time-consuming and/or challenging aspects of search marketing? (Select all that apply.)" Here are the results:
The winner? (Or loser, as the case may be?) Link building . More than a third of search marketers (37.5%) find link building to be a time-consuming, challenging and altogether aggravating chore. This jibes with advice from link building expert Arnie Kuenn  of Vertical Measures, who told us that 60% to 70% of your SEO time should be spent on link building!
From this virtual kaleidoscope of a chart, you can see that link building isn't the only search marketing task that gets under your skin. Other annoying and time-consuming tasks that eat away your day include keyword research (32%), bid management (30.9%), content creation (26.6%), content optimization (23.9%) and competitive intelligence (22.4%).
We also asked respondents to name the most annoying/challenging aspect of keyword research:
It seems that almost every aspect of keyword research is extremely annoying, but editing and updating keyword lists took the lead by a nose, irrtating more than half (55.8%) of our respondents. Keyword brainstorming and discovery (54.8%) and keyword organization (48.1%) weren't far behind.
Do these results match your experience? Does link building tend to be the biggest time suck of your search marketing duties? Does editing and updating your keyword lists give you regular headaches? Or do other duties drive you mad? What tools and tactics (and/or medications) do you use to ease the pain?