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Search engine marketing has often been defined as attempting to rank web pages in the search engines through means such as pay per click advertising, paid placements and paid inclusion. But this is a little bit of an antiquated definition.

With Microsoft taking over Yahoo!s search business and incorporating it into Bing, at least two of those strategies are nearly no longer valid. Yahoo! trumpeted paid inclusion years ago, but since search engines have gotten better at crawling and ranking web pages, paid inclusion has not be all that necessary. Any search engine marketer worth his weight in salt ought to be able to get a web page ranked without it.

So what will SEM of the future look like?

My guess is will still involve contextual advertising, or pay per click, but it will also involve some form of social media advertising. As the Web grows more into a social web with search functions, as opposed to a searchable database with social features, the search engines themselves will take on a more social role. Search engine marketing could actually become more social in nature. What do you think?

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