The search engine marketing industry is expected to hit $19.3 billion this year, according to the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO). In its State of Search Marketing Report (conducted by Econsultancy), SEMPO found that 86 percent of search professionals invest in SEO, making it the top search marketing tactic.

Search engine optimization is the clear leader in terms of search marketing activity, used by nearly nine in 10 marketers, and paid search comes in second with a 79 percent adoption rate. Social media marketing is a close third, used by nearly three-quarters of marketers (74 percent), and SEMPO notes that the social sectors showed annual gains over its 2010 survey.

When asked about the primary objectives of SEO, 42 percent of marketers said bringing traffic to their sites is the main goal. Nearly one-third of respondents said they aim to generate leads via SEO (29 percent) and 18 percent said they use SEO to boost their online sales.

The study also found that businesses are increasingly outsourcing SEO. Fourteen percent of companies say they now spend 91 percent to 100 percent of their SEO budgets with agencies – up 3 percent from 2010.

Perhaps more marketers are turning to search professionals in light of new trends and technologies that are impacting search marketing. Thirty percent of respondents believe that the rise of personalized search results has “highly impacted” their search efforts, 26 percent say local search is now key to search marketing and 25 percent cite real-time search as a search marketing game-changer (which perhaps explains why more are turning to SEO for social media marketing).

Still, the rise of the mobile internet has had the biggest impact on search marketing, according to 40 percent of respondents.

Brafton has reported that mobile search is steadily increasing. Plus, a recent study from Google shows that mobile shopping is now a routine behavior among smartphone owners, and mobile commerce is quickly rising. Internet marketers should plan mobile local SEO campaigns accordingly.