What is SEO in Digital Marketing?

Last updated:
May 8, 2021

Many business owners see Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as a mystery, an enigma that only those with inside knowledge can solve. The truth is that SEO is an essential part of any marketing strategy, and it doesn't have to be complicated. Read on to find out what SEO is and why your business needs it.

SEO can be complicated to understand how your website ranks varies on multiple factors. Just remember that good SEO = organic traffic (based on search volume). Basically getting free leads to your website by offering good piece of content. We will explain below what SEO is and how it affects search engine rankings.

SEO isn't complicated

What Does SEO Stand For?

At its most simple, SEO is an acronym that stands for Search Engine Optimization (to increase organic search traffic). Let's look at each component more closely.

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RELATED: Why Do You Need SEO for Your Business? 12 Reasons


One of the most common ways to find information on the internet is to use a search engine. On a site like Google or Bing, users will enter a search term or question. Then, using a complicated algorithm, these sites return what they think are the most relevant and useful results.

It is different from browsing a news site or scrolling through social media, looking for information. Users are actively looking for a specific answer, which you should keep in mind when creating compelling content.


The search “engines” that people use to find information are essential because they return prioritized results for users. The first uses crawlers to explore the web; then they record everything they find in databases (or indexes). When you perform a search, the engine is returning results from its index rather than the live internet.

The critical thing to remember is that all these engines use specific criteria for returning results. They look at factors like keyword density and meta tags to understand what your pages are about. Also, they keep track of which pages have linked to your content, and they use that information (along with other factors) to determine what page has the most authority.


For users to find you via search, you need to show up on the first few results pages (usually the first) for their search terms. That's why you need to optimize your content for search engines. It doesn't have to be complicated, but it does require some attention.

If you want to rank highly in search engines, you need to make sure:

  • The search engines can find you. (ranking factors that may dictate your ranking)
  • They can tell what your web pages are about. (Understand the search query that users are making)
  • Do you produce high-quality content? Not spammy content?
  • Are your internal links broken?
  • How's the mobile version of your website? It should be Mobile friendly.
  • They believe your page/site has authority and credibility for the content you're promoting (search rankings)

RELATED: Why is SEO Important for a Business?

How Does SEO Work?

Ultimately, SEO is about working with the search engines. You both have the same goal: providing valuable information to visitors when they need it. To do that, you have to understand SEO and how it works.

What SEO is Not SEO isn't a single tool or process. It's not a series of tricks (like keyword stuffing) or secrets (like link trading) you can use to fool search engines. It's also not a series of shortcuts that allow you to buy your way to the top of the search results.

All of these tactics have been used in the past by businesses and search engine “professionals” trying to game the system. Many of them achieved results, but only temporarily.

As search engines become smarter at indexing, they get better at returning real results instead of low-quality articles stuffed with keywords or supported by cheap backlinks. The engines now actually penalize these techniques and reward content that is truly optimized for search engines.

What is SEO?

SEO is a combination of activities that help search engines find and trust you, organize the information you're publishing, and present it to users searching for it.

More and more, SEO means writing for humans. It involves performing keyword research first to determine what your audience is looking for and how. Then, your content should incorporate those keywords in a natural and useful way. Finally, you should promote your content, so it gets shared and linked to by others, increasing your authority. Basically you are trying to optimize your website to increase search listing hits on the major search engines.

When SEO Is Working

When you're SEO strategy works, it means good things for you and your visitors. It also creates a cycle that reinforces itself.

For one, your website rank improves, which means more visitors will find your pages in search results. With broader exposure and traffic to your high-value content, more sites will link to your pages. This increases your authority and credibility, which leads to improvement in your website rank. Moreover, so on.

RELATED: What is Local SEO & How Does it Work?

Why Does My Business Need SEO?

Many businesses believe that SEO strategies do not apply to them. Either they see it as too complicated, or they think their brick-and-mortar business doesn't see any benefit from search engines. Both are untrue. SEO helps your business in many ways and is an essential tool in your marketing and outreach efforts.

Everyone Uses Search Engines

Internet users rely on search to answer questions, to learn more about products and services, and to find companies. If your focus is local, potential customers still use search engines to look for reviews and directions.

Even if a customer is already familiar with your business name, they are likely to type that into a search engine rather than trying to remember your domain. At the very least, then, you'll want to make sure searchers can find your site when they're looking for you.

SEO Increases Traffic

If you provide valuable information and make it easy for search engines to find and organize it, they will reward you with higher rankings. This increased exposure means more visitors to your pages.

As with most marketing, you want to get your content in front of as many eyeballs as you can. Especially when your audience wants what you have, and SEO is an excellent tool for targeting.

RELATED: What is Enterprise SEO in Digital Marketing?

SEO Brings You FREE Leads

Since search engines return results to users, who are actively searching for a particular term or phrase. Getting to the top of that stack means you're providing information to the people who want it most when they need it.

Unlike advertising, you aren't trying to push information in front of people who might not be interested at the time. So, you have an active audience, and you don't have to pay to get the message to them.

Overall, search engine optimization is one of the most effective and sustainable ways to build an online presence. By following best practices at the start, you'll create engaging, useful content that potential customers want (or need) to read. Then, the search engines will be happy to put you in front of a broader audience.


Factors that Influence Website Rankings

  • Mobile search: Is it easy for mobile users to navigate to your website? Recently, Google has updated their search ranking criteria (search engine algorithms) to include mobile experience scores.
  • Target keywords: Are you using the right keywords for your industry?
  • Relevant keywords: Are your keywords related to your website, content, industry etc?
  • Link building tactics: Are you adhering to best practices?
  • Broken links: Are there any broken links?
  • Blog posts: Are you utilizing blog posts?
  • Bounce rate: Are there are of people bouncing on your website?
  • Competitive keywords: Are you competing for the correct keywords?
  • Search engine crawlers: Is the search engine crawlers able to crawl your website?
  • Types of content: What kind of content are you posting? Videos? Text? Pictures etc?
  • High-quality backlinks: Are your website linked to high quality backlinks?
  • Schema markup: Does your website have correct schema markups?
  • Technical aspects: Does your website load fast?
  • Click-Through Rate: How many people are clicking on your website?


How Do I Monitor Search Engine Traffic?

There are various tools out there to monitor and analyze your SEO and website traffic. You can use

Google Search Console to find relevant searches, traffic from search, search history, and types of search.



Instead of seeing it as something to “fix” after you've created content, keep SEO top of mind from the beginning. It might to longer, but you are always better off getting it right the first time than wasting time fixing it later.

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