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SEO and Digital Marketing: What's the Difference?

November 11, 2020

There are some misconceptions in SEO and digital marketing.

One group will tell you the two go hand-in-hand. Another group swears by separating them. The only thing you need to know is that they're both essential.

A business building an online presence won't do it without search engine optimization. At the same time, one could happily get sales through digital marketing and never touch SEO. The trick is finding a middle-ground.

Where does one draw the line when budgets and resources are tight?

This article shares the difference between SEO and digital marketing. It then goes into how you can tap both to build a stronger online presence. Finally, it will share valuable resources if you're torn between investing in the two.

What SEO Is and Isn't

Search engine optimization is the culmination of web ranking best practices. Truth be told, it isn't an exact science because Google keeps its algorithm under lock and key. SEOs make informed decisions based on tracking data.

That said...

SEO is:

  • A way to optimize a website for keywords and phrases
  • Crafting an experience to meet user's needs
  • A grand strategy to build an online presence and brand exposure

SEO isn't:

  • A replacement for lackluster offers, content, and experience
  • Meant to "game" the system either by ranking or sabotaging others
  • A defined process as it changes almost every day (at random)

SEO is best seen in a holistic sense where small changes add to its whole impact. Most work gets done on the website as it offers a "base" for the work. Then, external factors add to the efforts (eg. link building).

What Digital Marketing Is and Isn't

Digital marketing is the culmination of one's outreach and inbound efforts, online. Digital marketing is no different than traditional methods except it's done online. Marketers tap channels to convince and convert interested parties.

That said...

Digital marketing is:

  • Using online platforms to influence, create sales, and build a brand
  • Build authority by sharing one's expertise and knowledge
  • A "shortcut" in reaching the market by way of paid campaigns

Digital marketing isn't:

  • Confined to paid advertising channels and campaigns
  • A broad "blast" like you'd find via mailers, radio, and TV
  • Always inexpensive and dependant on your efforts and competition

Here's the thing, SEO is part of digital marketing but it's not the biggest component. Digital marketing can include anything from email and social to PPC and affiliates. Digital marketing, in that way, is the "big picture".

SEO and Digital Marketing Go Hand-in-Hand

The easiest way to understand digital marketing and SEO is like this:

  • You're applying marketing strategies in a digital world
  • You have tools and resources to track campaign performance

Let's get into the various ways you'll explore digital marketing campaigns.

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization can include (but not limited to):

  • On-page optimization
  • Link building
  • Outreach

The core efforts involve finding keywords and using them on the website. You'll also use keywords and market research when rolling out campaigns.

Great SEO helps your site rank, helping build its authority. The digital marketing cements your brand's placement in its niche. As more people visit the site, you'll gain more data used in building out the SEO efforts.

Email Marketing

Email marketing brings these benefits:

  • Captures website visitors
  • Funnels subscribers to sales pages
  • Incentivizes interaction

Traffic gained from SEO/marketing campaigns funnel visitors into the email marketing channel. There, you'll use emails to engage the audience. This could include sales or content emails.

The effect: Builds better communities where users share and link to the site.

Content Marketing

Content marketing has several purposes:

  • Share your knowledge and expertise
  • Tap keywords and phrases for SEO
  • Convert researching parties into customers

Content, marketing, and SEO are intertwined. You'll use SEO research to build-out the content plan. Then, craft and promote the content through marketing channels once published.

Video Marketing

Video marketing is the same as blog content but (obviously) in video format. Here, you'll tap keyword and analytical research to discover topics. Then, you'll shoot and publish video appealing to your audience.

A video is effective in your digital marketing campaigns. People are typically more engaged through video. Plus, it's easier to share on social media.

Social Media Marketing

Social media indirectly impacts SEO:

  • Helps people discover resources they may link
  • Builds authority and connections later used in campaigns

Content and communication are central to social media marketing. Digital marketing plays into it either through outreach campaigns or paid ads. 

How does this all interlink? Well:

  1. SEO delivers more site visitors and website data
  2. Website data and social verification directs your efforts
  3. Your efforts get amplified through digital marketing campaigns

Paid Advertising/Marketing

Don't discount paid strategies in the SEO and marketing efforts -- explore:

  • Native advertising and sponsored campaigns
  • Banner ads and interactive media on social channels
  • Influencer campaigns and endorsements

Paid campaigns are rather inexpensive if you're selective. Try Facebook or Instagram to build awareness. Then, capture email and use feedback to refine content and marketing efforts.

And Many, Many More

Any new online platform becomes a new channel to explore digital marketing. Whether you want to invest in the channel is up to you. But, you should keep it on your radar especially if you see the market shifting to it.

Online Growth Options for the Budget-Minded Business Owner

So... what are your options when exploring SEO and digital marketing? It comes down to your budget and how much "sweat equity" you'll invest. You may DIY it but take months/years to see an ROI or use services for faster returns.

The upside of DIY SEO and marketing:

  • You control the message and tone
  • Smaller expenses while scaling at a pace you want
  • Build skills in-house, creating long-term benefits

The upside of SEO and marketing services:

  • Faster turn-around and optimized campaign efforts
  • Tap experts in their field with a wealth of experience
  • Diversification with your outreach efforts if you lack skills

The in-between with the two could fall in the content efforts. Crafting content gives you the resources used in SEO and digital marketing campaigns. 

You could:

  1. Poll users and tap analytics to discover topics for content
  2. Create the content and add supporting media sourced in-house
  3. Outsource the optimization, link building, and outreach with services

With this strategy, you gain the benefits of building authority through your words. But, you also get help spreading the information. While services spread the message, you'll continue building on the content marketing strategy.

Plus: You're free to interact with people through social media!

Creep Up On Competition from the Shadows

Competition is though when businesses understand the value of SEO and digital marketing. Even with a great offer, your site can get drowned by others doing SEO/marketing well. What can you do when the budget can't handle it?

Get in touch with our digital media ninjas.

We'll devise a marketing plan that'll let you creep up on the competition. Then, overtake them in search and marketing through effective campaigns. Give us a call at 432-934-9470 or use our contact to start, today.

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