This is everything you need to know about using search engine optimisation in your small business marketing mix
SEO marketing is more than just search engine optimisation. You see, SEO increases sales by improving search visibility and driving more, better-qualified search traffic to websites where visitors can see sales messages. But SEO marketing goes a step further and directly increases sales by conveying value to the target market. Here’s everything you need to know to get started.
What is SEO marketing?
To understand what SEO marketing is, you first need to understand what marketing is.
Oxford Languages defines marketing as “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including racket research and advertising”. The American Marketing Association defines marketing as “creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners and society at large”. The Australian Business Solutions Group defines marketing as “the process of how a business, product or service promotes its key features and benefits to its customers, which ultimately generates sales for the business by satisfying its customers’ needs”.
Advertising, on the other hand, is telling people to buy a product or service.
The key things to note with all these definitions are that marketing includes advertising, but it’s so much more than just advertising. And a key part of marketing, outside of advertising, is communicating the value of the business, products, and services to the people who will most benefit from the offerings.
So with that in mind, what is SEO marketing?
In my introductory guide, What is SEO?, I define SEO as the process of optimising websites and content so humans get the best experience and search engines can find and understand the value of the content. Putting the two together we can infer that SEO marketing is all about optimising websites and content so that humans and search engines understand the value of a business and its products and services.
There isn’t a universally accepted SEO marketing definition, so I’ve created a really practical definition.
SEO marketing definition
SEO marketing is the practice of optimising websites and content for increased search visibility, and in the process, ensuring those marketing assets clearly convey the value customers receive from products and services as well as the value of doing business with the organisation that sells those offerings. This further increases visibility in search results and leads to even more sales.
Now, that’s pretty dense, so let’s unpack that SEO marketing definition a little.
SEO marketing meaning
At the most basic level, the meaning behind this SEO marketing definition is that SEO marketing is a subset of search engine optimisation that focusses on conveying value.
In my guide How SEO works to drive traffic and profits, I talk about how search engines aim to provide the best value to their users (which are internet searchers) by displaying the content that will best solve the users’ queries, so they can earn more ad revenue. To do this, they do three things:
- Categorise content, so they know which search queries it could answer
- Rank content, so they can display the content in order of most to least likely to satisfactorily resolve each search query
- Monitor the performance of content, so they know how their search users are responding to the content and so they can adjust content rankings based on the fluctuating quality of content and the changing needs of their users
As a content creator/publisher, you’ll enjoy massive benefits if your content:
- Shows up in relevant search results, so that you get the right kind of traffic (people from your target audience)
- Is as visible as possible in search results, so more people know about your brand and so you get more traffic
- Engages and eventually converts incoming traffic into loyal customers, so you get more customers and those customers spend more money with you in the long run
There are three key ways you can successfully achieve those aims in the context of SEO marketing.
By proving you’re an authority on the topic your content relates to, search engines and your human visitors will know you know your stuff. As a result, you’ll achieve better search rankings and humans will be more likely to consider their queries solved after having consumed your content. And in terms of SEO marketing, visitors who appreciate the value of doing business with an organisation that’s knowledgeable on key topics in the industry will see value in choosing you over a competitor that isn’t as well informed.
By proving your content is topically relevant to particular search queries, search engines can rank your content for those queries and human visitors are less likely to go back to the search results after consuming your content. In terms of SEO marketing, your job is to demonstrate the value the search users will get from consuming your content over the other pieces of content being displayed in the search results by convincing those searchers that your content is more relevant than that of your competitors.
By proving your content and brand are trustworthy sources of information, more search users will click through to your content, which sends positive ranking signals to search engines. In terms of SEO marketing, by positioning your brand and content as trustworthy, searchers are more likely to see the value of doing business with your brand.
Note that SEO marketing is not search engine marketing (SEM). SEM is all about marketing a business on search engines using paid ads and is a completely different kettle of fish.
The role of SEO in marketing
So, bearing all that in mind, what is the role of SEO in marketing? I would argue there are three main jobs SEO performs when it comes to marketing:
- SEO helps you reach your target audience with your marketing messages
- SEO helps you provide a good experience to your target market when you deliver your marketing messages
- SEO helps you convey the value of doing business with your brand as well as the value of your products and services
How to do SEO marketing
The key to doing SEO marketing is to incorporate clear statements of value into your SEO process. Sometimes, you might hear SEO marketing content referred to as conversion-driven, SEO-friendly content, and that’s a great way to think about how to do SEO marketing — create content that’s optimised for search engines and conversions.
How to do SEO marketing when creating your SEO tags
When you’re wordsmithing your SEO title, think about how you can include your primary SEO keyword and brand name while also conveying the core value of the information conveyed in your content. Or, if you’re writing a product description or creating a product video, think about how you can convey the value of the product or service while still including your brand name and primary SEO keyword.
When you’re crafting your meta description, include your primary and some secondary keywords, and try to include the most valuable benefits visitors will receive when they consume your content, or the most valuable benefits customers will receive when they use your product or service. Tell searchers why they should click on your search listing instead of any of the others displayed on the page of search results.
The same thing goes for your URL or slug. Include your primary keyword and see if you can include a word or short phrase that conveys the value of your content, product or service. This is usually easier to do if you’ve successfully incorporated the value into your SEO title but if you have too much trouble with this task, know that it’s more important for the URL to remain short and include the primary keyword.
How to do SEO marketing when you’re crafting your main content
The way you apply the principles of SEO marketing to your main content will depend on the type of content your creating. But all types of content will have a title, so let’s start there.
In many cases, your content title will be the same as your SEO title minus your brand name. But your h1 content title can be longer than your SEO title if you want, so you may take that opportunity to expand on the value of your content.
The most important places to convey value, after the title, are the introduction and conclusion. If you’re creating a blog post or other written informational content, try to tell your reader what benefits they’ll receive from reading the content as soon as possible in the first paragraph, and then reiterate those benefits in the conclusion. I’ve also had great success when describing the benefits of each section in the first paragraph of that section.
If you’re writing a product description, describe the primary benefits of the product or service in the first 100-150 words of the description. And when you’re listing the features, include an explanation of the benefit of each feature.
If you’re creating an image, include a relevant primary or secondary keyword and describe the value of the image in the image alt text. You may also describe the value of the image in a caption if it makes sense to do so, but ensure you always have an alt tag regardless of whether you include a caption. This is because screen readers read the alt text, the alt text is displayed if the image doesn’t load for some reason, and search engines use the alt text to understand the value of the image.
If the image you’re creating is an infographic, you’ll likely get better results if you also include the benefits of consuming the infographic at the top of the infographic.
If you’re creating an audio file, follow the same guidelines for images as well as the guidelines for written content if your audio includes spoken words (as in a podcast, for instance). So create an alt tag for your audio file that contains a relevant keyword and describes the value of listening to the audio, and then apply it when you’re embedding the audio on your site. And if the audio includes spoken words, describe the value of listening to the audio at the beginning and end of the audio, just like you would do when writing the introduction and conclusion of written text.
The same goes for videos. Create an alt tag that includes a relevant keyword and describes the benefits of watching the video, and then apply the alt text whenever you embed the video on your site. In almost all cases, it’s best to describe the benefits of watching the video at the beginning and the end in an introduction and conclusion. This will encourage people to watch your video, and importantly, watch it through to the end.
TLDR — SEO marketing
SEO marketing is all about optimising websites and content for improved search results and in the process ensuring humans and search engines understand the value of the business and its products and services. You can do this by creating content that demonstrates your authority and expertise on topics related to your brand, is relevant to the search queries of your ideal customers, and inspires trust in your brand.
Doing this helps you reach more members of your target audience, provide them with a good user experience and convey the exceptional value of doing business with your brand as well as the benefits they’ll receive when they buy your products or services.
When done well, all of this helps you win more sales and consistently grow your business.