State of Search Engine Marketing in Indonesia

In 2013, Indonesia had 71.19 million Internet users, about 28 percent of its population₁. The country also has the fourth largest number of active Facebook users at 62 million₂.

Indonesia ranked fifth with 29 million Twitter users last year, where people in the nation’s capital Jakarta alone account for 2.4 percent of all global tweets₃.

More than 99 percent of Indonesia’s population owns a mobile phone₄, and the country seems destined for further digital marketing growth in the coming years.

In this blog post, I will dive deeper into the Indonesia search engine market space, including client case studies in the region for both SEM and SEO programs.

Google is the most widely used search engine for both smartphones and PCs

According to Think with Google₅, the search engine giant is the leading engine used in Indonesia, both on PCs and smartphones, followed by Yahoo.



More than 700 regional languages are spoken in Indonesia

A unique aspect to note here about Indonesia that users in the country search from a variety of settings. More than 700 regional languages are spoken in the country₆ of which Indonesia (technically Bahasa Indonesia) is the official language and the most widely spoken.

The pie chart (a) completed by our internal team below for a major high tech device firm shows that 50 percent of the keywords ranked in top 30 are from Google Indonesia English (Indonesia).

In this chart, Google Indonesia English (Indonesia) refers to users searching on Google Indonesia ( with English language and Indonesia geo settings.

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 1.48.21 PM
Achieved 9,600 percent increase in monthly traffic year over year through SEO

One high tech company worked with us on search engine optimization for the Indonesian market with a specific focus on smartphone-related terms. The objective was to drive awareness and consideration of the brand by attaining high visibility on the search engine results pages (SERPs), and driving traffic to the company’s website through brand and non-brand keywords.

Through the selection of target keywords based on the search query volume opportunity, and pages based on company’s key product and opportunities seen in the pages – as well as content marketing efforts – we were able to achieve a monthly increase in traffic year over year of 9,600 percent through smartphone-related keywords and 510 percent through non-brand keywords.


Some 69 percent of the search queries were brand keyword terms

Additional investigation by our team into consumer search behavioral trends in Indonesia for the smartphone category indicated that high tech brand keywords combined to make up 69 percent of all keywords used as query terms. Unlike other regions around the globe, Indonesians seem to search primarily for specific smartphone brands versus generic high-level keywords like “hand phone” or “smartphone.” The chart (b) below shows the keyword count by type for competitive high tech device firms in the region.

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 1.48.29 PM

Now, let’s take a look at the trends seen in SEM.

Tablet category averaged 4 percent CTRs and CPCs of 30 cents in 2014 Q1

In the tablet category specifically, based on regional insights from Google, Indonesian click-through rates (CTRs) for the first quarter of 2014 averaged 4 percent and the average cost-per-click (CPC) was 30 cents. Impressions during the same period averaged 50,000 weekly.

Considering that Google is the leading search engine in the country, these datapoints should be used as a benchmark for digital marketers running campaigns in the tablet category in Indonesia.

SEM generated 22 and 35 percent improvements in CTRs and CPCs, respectively

We were engaged in a SEM program for the tablet category where the main objective was to drive quality website traffic to improve on page engagement metrics.

Keywords were carefully selected and custom ad copy written to reach the target audience in the category. The ads were localized to the regional Indonesian language to align with the content of the website. We also made optimizations around match types, adding negative keywords, adjusting ad rank through bid management, and continuing to activate performing ad copy that was implemented throughout the optimization process.

As a result, we saw strong results through the course of the program in the front-end metrics of CTRs and CPCs, which had 22 percent and 35 percent improvements, respectively.  At the time of our report, there was not sufficient data to analyze the on-page engagement performance. I will address this in a follow-up post on the state of search engine marketing in Indonesia.

Actionable Insights for SEO and SEM Programs in Indonesia

  1. Focus on Google, the nation’s No. 1 search engine.
  2. Localize your website to the primarily regional languages of Bahasa Indonesia and English.  This will maximize the opportunity to increase visibility and share of voice in the SERPs across different types of settings.
  3. Stick with the latest best practices and basic tactics of SEM and SEO. There shouldn’t be much in the way of surprises. We stuck to optimization fundamentals and we were able to see improvements in the program.
  4. Brand terms should be a key area of focus for smartphone device-related terms.


  1. Jakarta Post (
  2. Slide Share (
  3. Tech Asia ( )
  4. Wikipedia ( )
  5. Google Think Insights (
  6. Wikipedia ( )