Although all marketing channels appear to be struggling because of the economy, a new study finds search engine optimization (SEO) will continue to grow in 2009 and beyond.

According to figures from the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization (SEMPO), search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) are expected to reach $14.7 billion in 2009, 9 percent higher than 2008.

While the industry is expected to grow over the next five years, the prediction for 2009 is a reduction over previous estimates that had the industry growing to $18.8 billion by the end of this year.

Kevin Lee, CEO of Didit and SEMPO chair said the drop in the 2009 estimate is due to the state of the economy and the overall fall in the retail industry.

"If consumers are less likely to make purchases, they are less likely to do searches related to commercial products," he told MediaPost.

It does appear, however, that search engine optimization (SEO) and SEM are overtaking traditional forms of advertising and marketing. According to the Wall Street Journal, the SEMPO report finds that more than 25 percent of advertisers are shifting dollars from print into online marketing.