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Search Engine Marketing: Overview and Trends in 2013

Search Engine Marketing


Search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) are two of the most common terms in Internet marketing that are often used interchangeably. Both SEM and SEO use search engine channels to improve site’s ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). SEO is the natural, organic and unpaid ways to increase website’s visibility on search engines. However, these activities are also considered as part of SEM strategy.

SEM is the process of using either the paid search advertising method or the organic method (aka SEO) or both methods to be found by both search engine bots and human searchers. In other words, SEO is under the SEM umbrella. SEO is cheaper than paid search advertising because obviously it’s free. However, website owners may use any of the two ways or may use both.


1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - SEO may involve on-page and off-page optimization. On-page search engine optimization includes using of targeted keywords on page title, meta-description, text content, images, sitemap, navigation, URL. On the other hand, off-page search engine optimization is done through link building to increase ranking in SERP. Activities like press release and free online directory submission, article marketing and guest blogging, blog and forum commenting, engagement and integration of social media, and content marketing are examples of off-page SEO.

2. Paid Search Advertising- It is sometimes called as “paid inclusion.” It is the method of placing ads on search results page. Advertisements can be placed on the top and right side of search engines once they generate search results. Using this method, a website owner is assured that his/her site will be included in the search engine databases, which is less hassle than SEO. However, as the name implies, paid search advertising is done for a certain fee. Paid search advertising maybe done in the form of pay per click (PPC) or paid for placement (PFP). In PPC, website owners will only pay the agreed amount for every click on their website link, whereas in PFP, a website is given an exposure on the search results page for a certain fee and time. PFP ads have the heading of “sponsored links,” which is usually separated from organic listings.


This year, focusing only in one method of SEM is not enough to keep uphold in the growing competition in online marketing. Varied methods of SEM must be applied. Moreover, with the updates in search algorithms,  growing numbers of social media users and changes in the online users’ behavior, new trends for search engine marketing are also emerging. Hence, this year is the best time to start coping with the latest SEM activities.

Content Marketing- The days of too much self-promotion in web content are gone because the focus of SEM in 2013 is more on content marketing. This trend changes the way web contents are being produced. More than just being a platform to promote one’s company and website, content marketing becomes a stage where expertise is being demonstrated through the created web content, which can be in the form of articles, webinars, research papers, newsletters and other content creation activities. The key factor of success in this trend is focusing on the quality of the content and not on the quantity.

Use All Search Channels to Create Conversion- According to Covario’s research and cases, using digital channels (like social bookmarks, blogs, microblogs, image sharing sites, music, video, social media etc.) to create content and conversations is the new trend for SEM 2013 (Craver, 2013). Use all these channels to spread your content and be found by your target audience, but make it sure that your content is compelling enough to engage your users with it.

Social Media Integration- It is not enough that you have a profile from various social media like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest etc.; you must also integrate it to your website. Be an active social media user by posting engaging text and visual contents that your target audience could relate to. You can also use social media marketing by sponsoring promoted posts or advertising your fan page on Facebook.

Whether you are using SEO, paid search advertising or both, you can still use the above mentioned trends to strengthen your SEM campaign.

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