Digital Marketing Doesn’t Work Without SEO

why digital marketing doesn't work without seo

The most fundamental definition of digital marketing is using electronic devices to market products or services. These days, digital marketing almost exclusively involves the internet, and every business — nearly regardless of its industry, its market, its audience, etc. — must participate in digital marketing to find success. 

Fortunately, most businesses do invest in digital marketing; unfortunately, many businesses equate digital marketing with generating content and paying for ads, but not optimizing their webpages for search. SEO is essential to completing the puzzle that is digital marketing — here’s why. 

What SEO Is And Does 

SEO stands for search engine optimization, a practice that involves modifying webpages to better suit how search engines crawl and index the web. Typically, the goal of SEO is to improve a webpage’s rankings on a search engine’s results page for a specific query. This can increase a business’s visibility and make it easier to gain new site visitors and new customers. 

Take, for example, an interior design business in San Diego — let’s call it Sunny Spaces. Sunny Spaces has a website and social media pages on a few relevant platforms, like Instagram and Pinterest, and it participates in rudimentary content marketing by posting design tips and trends to its blog. However, when someone searches for “interior design San Diego,” webpages belonging to Sunny Spaces don’t show up on the first page, meaning the company misses out on that potential business. With proper SEO practices, Sunny Spaces can increase its rank to appear not just on the first page of results but among the top few, dramatically increasing its likelihood of gaining a client. 

Among the most important SEO practice is building links, which Google uses to calculate how important a webpage is. Businesses need internal links connecting different webpages and easing navigation for website visitors, but they also need links on other web domains pointing back to their pages. Links on authoritative websites, like Forbes or Moz (or Houzz, for our fictional interior design company), are weighted more heavily in Google’s algorithm, helping businesses jump higher in rank; in contrast, low- quality links, like those spammed in comments sections or on forums, can harm a business’s rank. 

Additionally, SEO commonly deals with keywords, which are words or phrases used in search queries, which search engines use to find relevant webpages. When SEO was young, it was common practice to cram a webpage full of keywords — as many as could possibly fit. These days, keyword stuffing reduces the quality of a page’s content and tends to draw the ire of Google and other search engines, who penalize such pages with lower rankings. 

There are many different SEO tactics, and not all businesses need to participate in all of them. Businesses should work with an SEO agency to better understand what SEO practices are available and applicable to their digital marketing strategy. 

How SEO Fits Into Digital Marketing 

Unfortunately, too many businesses, upon hearing of SEO, shift the focus of their digital marketing campaign to page optimization and link building. While SEO is a powerful tool for gaining visibility online, it shouldn’t be the beginning, middle and end of a business’s digital marketing strategy. This is because improving a business’s search ranking should be merely one element of a larger, more important goal — goals like acquiring new leads, increasing sales or building an engaged online community. Increasing search ranking is a step toward growing the business, but it doesn’t directly contribute to growth the way more customers and profits do. 

Ideally, SEO efforts should coordinate with larger digital marketing efforts. It might be worthwhile to search out a digital marketing firm that has an experienced SEO team on staff. Then, as various types of digital marketers work at developing a business’s brand online — through website design, social media management, content development, email marketing, advertising and more — SEO professionals can focus on the more technical task of increasing organic visits to webpages through increasing search ranking and outside link placement. 

As elements of digital marketing gain popularity, many businesses are tempted to scrap a larger, broader digital marketing strategy in favor of the buzzy, new tactic. Yet, digital marketing is a puzzle; focusing on just one or two pieces won’t get businesses closer to completing the picture and achieving their goals. Generating content is important, advertisements are important, social media is important, and SEO is important — so businesses need to invest in them all to find success.

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