There’s a lot of confusion around the terms “online marketing” and “search engine optimization.” In fact, the two are such close cousins that it’s often hard to tell them apart. But it’s more than semantics; in order to succeed as an online marketer, you need to understand the differences between the two strategies.
Traditional Offline Marketing
If you’ve ever been involved in marketing at all, you’ll know that traditional offline marketing is what came before the internet. Essentially, it consisted of large, expensive magazines that were mailed to potential customers. So although the methods might have changed, the goal remains the same: to get people to buy your product or service.
The most effective (and free) tools for SEOs to use are Google’s own search engine and their free Google Analytics tool. By combining the power of Google’s index with the insight of analytics, you can track the performance of your campaign, identify opportunities for improvement, and determine the success of your investment in marketing.
Modern Online Marketing
Since the dawn of the digital age, marketing has changed, and so has SEO. Where traditional offline marketing focused on garnering audience attention through print publications and expensive trade shows, online marketing shifted to focus on getting attention through paid ads, often in the form of a sponsored link.
This paid-link approach made digital marketing, as it’s known, highly measurable and, as a result, scalable. As long as you have a web browser, you have a digital marketing platform. You can test, analyze, and optimize your performance from any device, anywhere. And if you’re using Google Ads, you can even see your performance from inside the Google interface.
While some businesses, such as Uber and Airbnb, have turned to digital marketing to gain popularity, the majority of businesses continue to rely on traditional marketing channels. Why? Well, you can’t put a price on brand loyalty and word of mouth marketing. But that doesn’t mean that these strategies aren’t effective. In fact, in some instances, they are more effective than ever.
The Importance of SEO
With the increased use of mobile phones and the growing number of online businesses, SEO has become an important, if not vital, part of any marketing plan.
If you’re reading this article on the web, chances are you’ve heard of SEO. You might know that it stands for search engine optimization, or that it’s often confused with PPC (pay per click) marketing. While those are both parts of the service, SEO is much more than that.
So what exactly is SEO? Put simply, SEO is the practice of getting website traffic, or customers, from search engines such as Google.
Why should you care about SEO? You should care about SEO because without it, you can’t have good digital marketing. If you don’t rank high on the search engine results page (SERP) for your keywords, then you’re not going to appear often enough in the spot that many people will click on your ads to find what they’re looking for.
Here’s an example. Say you’re a car dealer and you want to promote your vehicle sales online. You might want to use some of the following keywords in your SEO marketing:
- auto dealership
- car dealer
- purchase car
- make a purchase
- new car
- vehicle sale
If you don’t have the budget for paid ads or you don’t want to risk them on keywords you don’t know much about, then you have two simple options: try SEO or find a reputable, affordable SEO company to help you.
The first step in the SEO process is to create a keyword list of phrases that relate to your business and are popular among your target audience. Next, you need to determine which pages on your website you should focus your attention on (this is called your “SEO niche”), bearing in mind the type of content you already have and where you want to see your site in the search engine results.
For example, if your niche is real estate and you want to become a leading resource for property investment opportunities, you might want to consider creating content around the following topics:
- foreclosure investing
- revenue generation
- property checklist
- property market
- property management
- mortgage loans
- single-family home buying
- renting property
- Estate Agent
- Real Estate Agent
As you can see, this is a pretty long list. However, don’t worry; creating content around all these keywords isn’t going to happen overnight. It will take time to build credibility and establish yourself as an expert in your chosen field. But once your SEO is set up, it will be worth it.
As for the second step, figuring out which portions of your site to target, that’s pretty much a personal choice. You might want to start small and identify the pages that get the most traffic, or you might want to look for pages with valuable content that you can highlight and build upon. It’s all about what’s meaningful to your business.
As for the last step, measuring the success of your campaign, that’s pretty easy. You can track the growth of your website over time through Google Analytics, which, as we mentioned earlier, is a free tool. Using the keywords you identified in the first step, you can track the volume of traffic generated by your campaign, the conversion rates for each keyword, and the position that your website holds in the search engine results page. You can even set up automated alerts for new keywords or combinations of keywords that you might want to pursue in the future.
So there you have it, two separate but closely related fields that work together to make your business more visible to the right audience. Without the proper education and a clear understanding of the difference between SEO and digital marketing, it’s easy for marketers to get confused and not know which tools to use or how to use them. Luckily, we’re here to clear up any confusion.