Learning Digital Marketing it means that we have to aware with SEM and SEO. Why? Because to be successful marketer today, you need to understand how to show up your target market’s search engine activity in the search results. To make this things work, we have to understand keywords and content that your target market would use the most (Hemann and Burbary, 2013).



Keywords and content are the key of SEM or even SEO, and the first important step to define the keywords or making the marketing content is find out the behavior of your target audience. However, just having the right content is not enough, content needs to include the right keywords that could effectively scanned by search engine.

Knowing the difference between SEM and SEO.

Just like we know that SEM and SEO are important tools, helping to promote the business or even their website. A lot of online retailers are rely on search engine to promote their business. While some people thought that SEM and SEO are the same thing, but actually SEO is the really first step in Search Engine Marketing (SEM). SEM not only includes SEO tactics but methods for immediately increasing a site’s traffic and visibility through paid inclusion paid advertisingg, and pay-per-click (Voltolina, 2008).

Search Engine Marketing strategies have five components (Parkin, Godfrey, 2009)

  1. Natural Search Engine Optimization (SEO): This engine to ensure that your pages will achieve great rankings in the search listings.
  2. Contextual Advertising (PPC / Pay Per Click): This system is to ensure that your pages will appear on search results pages within the advertising or sponsored listings.
  3. Paid Inclusion: This one is to make sure that search engines index your site quickly often.
  4. Conversion Enhancement Strategies: These strategies to ensure that more visitors who take the actions, and of course, you want them to take once they arrive to the site
  5. Web Analytics: This is to allow you to measure and improve on the results generated  from your search marketing campaigns.

To knowing which keywords and phrases are being searched the most or commonly, we could do the research for it with online tools, such as google trends or google adwords.

google trends

Google trends shows you the most popular search terms at Google. Carolyn Nicander Mohr, a lawyer with personal technology for over 20 years, wrote on her website that Google trends could provide you with valuable information, especially for the business marketers that can help for what people are searching for (Mohr, 2014)

This video was showed the most popular search on Google Searches in 2013:

Google trends would shows the graphs for the specific terms: Time periods (daily week, monthly, since when) and also Geographic locations. The Geographical trend data may assist in 3 (tree) points:

  • Pinpointing the geographic (areas/countries) locations which show less/more interest in the product / business category.
  • The geographic locations should be targeted differently, because it has different culture/elements/channels of target market
  • Positive search activity in geographic locations which are not currently being targeted.

Google AdWords is similar with Google Trends, it also could shows you what the most popular keywords in the specific area and even in the specific time. If you already have a couple of option of the keywords, but still confuse, which one is the popular, Google AdWords is going to shows you. The performance of Google AdWords varies considerably depending on the language and the location of the target audience.

google adwords


But, before your planning your keywords, you have to create your own Google AdWords ID first, then you can start with your campaign. Choose 2 or more keywords, and see which one is the most popular.


adwords keyword plannerFor example, you have 2 keywords that you want to put it to your marketing content. That 2 keywords are Digital Marketing and Online Marketing. Which one is the most searched.

adwords keyword exampleFrom that example, we could know that the words of “digital marketing” is the most popular than “online marketing”. Then, we decided to using “digital marketing” as a keyword.

“Once the brand or the company understands the keywords which will allow them to build a strategic marketing campaign, they need to apply this knowledge to their online channels (ex: social media)” (Taylor, Natalie, 2014)


SEM (Search Engine Marketing)

As we know that online or digital marketing is quite different with traditional marketing forms of marketing, and to originally  optimize the Search Engine Results, you definitely need a good Google ‘quality score’, it means, good content, and high rank on Google.  Godfrey Parkin even gave a quote in his book, Digital Marketing Strategies for Online Success, that if you want your website or page to get into the top three out of thousand for any keywords, your webstire/page has to be one of the very best in its field (Parkin, Godfrey, 2009).

From his book, Godfrey explained that there are basically two ways  to make your website/page is classified and indexed by search engine marketing:

  1. This is the oldest one, by directories. Directories are run by human who determine where each site belongs, and each site can only occupy one slot. Godfrey said that there is only one directory that marketers should worry about, it called DMOZ ( DMOZ is the foundation of the web, and all the major search engines build off it. So, basically, you just need to submit your website/page to DMOZ , and then wait for many weeks, for someone get to look it.
  2. The second way is with Google, but, it can take a very long time to find you. Google is not the directory, it is a search engine, that information is sorted and identified on the web. Google (search engine) is automated . The fieldwork is done by small bits of code called bots or spiders. When a spider absorbs a web page, it takes the visible text, the hidden code, the names and addresses of pages and files that the page links to, and the details of pages that link into it from elsewhere. Then the indexer takes all this information and crunches through it in detail. It then comes up  with an understanding of what the page is about.

Keyword is very important element in this case. Search engines use it to classify what a page is about, searches use it as a search query to find pages that may solve their problems, and for marketers use it as a trigger to advertisements that will lead searchers to their site.


SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

As it mentioned above, that SEO is one of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) strategy components. SEO is a structured approach used to increase the position of a company or its products in search engine natural or organic  results listings for selected keywords or phrases (Chaffey, 2012)

So how is exactly the main processes of SEO? Chaffey explained that there are 4 main processes (Chaffey, 2012):

  1. Crawling. The purpose is to identify relevant pages for indexing and asses if that pages have changed. Crawling is perfomed by robots or spiders. The bots or spiders are the software processes running on a search engine’s server.
  2. Indexing. This is created to enable the search engine to rapidly find the most relevant pages containig the query typed by the searcher. The index information consists of phases stored within a document and also other information characterizing a page (document’s title, meta description, PageRank, trust or authority)
  3. Ranking or Scoring. The process has produced a lookup of all the pages that contain particular words in a query, but they are not sorted in terms of relevance.

The benefit of SEO is not only could make your website/page become the top 3 (three) list of search engine, these are another advantages of SEO (Chaffey, 2012):

  • Significant Traffic Driver. It showed that the searcher come from natural and paid search (AdWords)
  • Highly Targeted. The visitors are certainly searching for particular brands/products/services, so will often they are the qualified visitors.
  • Potentially Low Cost Visitors, and
  • Dynamic. Search engine has a robot/spider that will crawl  the home page of popular sites DAILY, so new marketing content is included relatively quickly for the most popular pages of a website.

Unfortunately, SEO also has the disadvantages that we should worry about:

  • Lack of Predictability. SEO is very unreliable and it is very difficult to predict the results for a given investment and is highly competitive.
  • Time for Results to be Implemented. This is not the fast feedback, the results from SEO may take a months to be achieved, especially for new sites.
  • Complexity and Dynamic Nature. There is no direct correlation between marketing action and results, because the search engines take hundreds of factors into account.
  • Ongoing Investment. Investment needed to continue to develop new content and generate new links.
  • Poor for Developing Awareness in Comparison with Other Media Channels.

For all of those reasons, investment in paid search may also be worthwhile.



  • Parkin, Godfrey. (2009) Digital Marketing Strategies For Online Success. London, UK : New Holland
  • Voltolina, Vanessa. (2008) Folio: The Magazine Management. Vol. 37 issue 12, p22-23. 2p
  • Mohr, Carolyn Nicander. (2014) Google Trends. What is Hot? .
  • Taylor, Natalie. (2014) Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Power Point Material
  • Chaffey, D. & Ellis-Chadwick, F. (2012) Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practices. Harlow: Pearson.




4 thoughts on “SEM & SEO

  1. Sayangnya di Indonesia SEO dan SEM seperti dipandang sebelah mata. Kalau Ruth lihat web lokal semacam Bhinneka, SEO dan SEM nya super berantakan dan sangat terlambat mengaplikasikan SEO dan SEM, mereka hanya mengandalkan pamor dan ketenaran.

    Bahkan tidak ada kelas magister digital marketing untuk universitas sekaliber UGM atau UI sekalipun. Parahnya, bahkan di kelas magister komunikasi sekalipun, sosial media hanya diajarkan 1 hari, boro-boro SEO dan SEM…LOL 😀

    Sorry to reply in bahasa :p


  2. Hi Fajrie, it’s ok.
    Iya betul saya setuju sekali. Di Indonesia ilmu ini masih sangat umum, padahal di Indonesia e-commerce sudah mulai banyak, dan sangat popular belakangan ini. SEO dan SEM adalah hal dasar yang harus diketahui untuk online business.

    Terima kasih untuk masukannya 🙂


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