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The role of SEO in digital marketing

Article Highlights

What is SEO?
What is SEO?

What are the types of SEO in digital marketing?
What are the types of SEO in digital marketing?

Why is SEO important in digital marketing?
Why is SEO important in digital marketing?

SEO can sometimes end up in a silo, separate from digital marketing efforts, or even worse, treated as an afterthought. While some people don’t understand the SEO meaning in business, it’s actually essential – whether you sell online or not.

Not only is SEO part of all great digital marketing strategies, but good SEO also complements and even accelerates results from other marketing channels. SEO should be integral to any marketing plan.

What is SEO?

SEO (search engine optimisation) is the process of making a business website more visible on search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, and the rest. In theory, SEO applies to all search engines, but Google is the one that’s most commonly referred to in terms of SEO. This is for a couple of reasons:

  1. Google is the most popular and used around the world. Nielsen figures from December 2021 indicated global search engine market share as follows: Google (91.94%), Bing (2.86%), Yahoo (1.5%), with all others accounting for the final 3.61%.
  2. Due to the volume of searches handled and their ongoing market-leading position, Google has the most complex (and accurate) machine learning and algorithms of all the search engines.

However, there are opportunities for SEO on other search engines. They each have their own benefits and drawbacks – your target audience may dictate the best choice for your business.

What are the types of SEO in digital marketing?

There are three core forms of SEO that are used in digital marketing.

On-page SEO

On-page SEO covers everything that’s on your website: copy, content, images, keywords, and metadata.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO focuses on the user experience and function of your website. It’s important that your website rarely suffers downtime, is responsive on all devices, is fast to load, and is easy to navigate.

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO covers everything outside of your website. This mainly comprises backlinks from other websites. These are a signal to search engines that your content is accurate, relevant, and up-to-date.

Why is SEO important in digital marketing?

The ultimate goal of digital marketing efforts is to drive traffic to a website. The next step is for the website to drive the desired action or conversion from the user. This could be a lead form submission, a purchase, a newsletter subscription, a phone call, a video view, or another action.

While it’s technically possible to create a digital marketing strategy that doesn’t involve SEO, you may be forfeiting opportunities to connect with your target audience. SEO can play a vital role in digital marketing, and without it, you could miss out on:

Missing out on organic traffic

Even if your site ranks in the top 100 results for any search query or keyword, most search engine users don’t go beyond the first page of the SERP – search engine results pages. The first page of results only has 10 organic spots, and position 100 means the bottom of page 10. But research has shown that 74% of users never click past the first page of results. By not taking SEO seriously and aiming for the first page, you’re unlikely to benefit from any organic traffic.

While paid results are positioned on the SERP, research has shown that organic search results are responsible for 51% of visitors to most websites. Paid results are responsible for 10%, and social media delivers 5%.

Local customers and visits

This is particularly appropriate for small service-based businesses as well as retailers with brick-and-mortar locations. By not focusing on SEO, you’re missing out on local searches by potential customers nearby. For example, with an optimised Google My Business account for a bakery, the business will appear in searches such as “bakery near me”, “local bakery” and “nearest bakery” from local searchers.

A better customer experience

Ultimately, search engines want to deliver the most relevant results for their users to ensure they return. There are hundreds of factors that go into the ranking process, but the majority focus on useful information that performs well and meets user expectations. Websites delivering a good experience give the user what they are looking for. They load fast, offer easy navigation, simple checkout or conversion processes, and are responsive on all devices.

By just focusing on social media, PPC (pay-per-click advertising), or podcasts, traffic sent to your website may be greeted with an irrelevant web experience. That means wasted time, resources, and opportunities – because potential converters will quickly leave. SEO should, therefore, be a central part of the wider marketing strategy – whether digital, traditional, or offline.

Bolstering other marketing efforts

One of the benefits of optimising SEO as part of a digital marketing strategy is that it can support and accelerate other efforts.

Paid search and SEO work can have synergy:

  • A strong organic position will enhance the CTR (click-through rate) of PPC
  • The markers for good SEO and an effective PPC ad are very similar – working on your SEO will enhance your paid search ads. A higher quality score and ad rank lead to lower cost per click, more competitive bidding, and an improved ROAS (return on ad spend)
  • The data gained from your paid ads will give you plenty of keyword insights that can help inform and prioritise your ongoing SEO strategy.

Social media and SEO complement each other too:

  • Any links from social media posts, ads, or shares will help create backlinks to boost SEO
  • Social media content can be shared on your Google My Business account to support local searches and to keep the content fresh
  • An effective social media strategy can drive quality traffic to your website, improving user metrics and driving traffic while you’re working on SEO
  • On Bing (but not Google), social shares are directly linked to organic rankings
  • Posting on social media can help your page get indexed quicker by search engines.

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