SEO marketing

SEO marketing is an essential part of online marketing. SEO is also called search engine optimization. Optimize a website for search engines such as Google so that it becomes more findable in search results. This brings more traffic to website.

In this article, I will discuss the content of SEO marketing and why it is of value to a website.

What does SEO marketing mean?

SEO marketing includes all actions performed for the optimization of online content or a website. The goal is to improve visibility and ranking in search engine result pages (SERPs) for specific keywords and phrases(1).

SEO marketing aims to get more and higher quality traffic to a website. This is through search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo. For best results, use a combination of on-page and off-page optimization. On-page optimization refers to the content, structure and HTML of a Web site. Off-page optimization deals with the actions that are not performed on a website itself. It’s all about getting high-quality backlinks. Building more engagement in social media also plays a big role.

SEO marketing is essential to digital marketing. It helps companies with their goals in several ways. SEO marketing, for example, helps increase your online presence and visibility to potential customers. The right SEO marketing strategies lead to more traffic to a website. This can increase leads and sales.

SEO marketing summarized

The video below clearly summarizes the meaning of SEO marketing.

The connection between search engines and SEO

SEO marketing is strongly related to search engines like Google. Search engines use complex algorithms to index and rank Web sites. Several factors play a role in this, consider relevance, authority and usability.

To know how SEO marketing works, it is important to first have a good understanding of how search engines work. When someone makes a query to a search engine, think “restaurant Amsterdam,” the search engine starts searching its index. The search engine presents the most relevant results at the top of the search results pages (SERPs). SEO marketing aims to optimize a website. This way, the website will rank higher in Google or other search engines for relevant searches.

Search engines consider a wide variety of factors to rank Web sites. For example, the relevance of content and the quality of inbound links play a big role. Also important is how fast a website is and whether it is mobile-friendly. Good usability is also essential. Optimize a website to optimize all these factors to rank higher in the search engines. This leads to more traffic to a website.

The workings of SEO marketing

SEO marketing is about combining on-page and off-page optimization techniques. This aims to improve a website’s ranking and visibility in search results.

On-page optimization involves optimizing a website’s content, structure, and HTML code. This makes a website more search engine friendly. Use relevant keywords, good website architecture, internal links, meta tags, header tags and image tags, among others, to get the best results.

Off-page optimization has to do with techniques applied outside the website itself with the goal of improving search engine ranking. An essential component in this is link building. Link building involves obtaining high-quality backlinks from other websites. Make further use of social media marketing. It is important to promote a website on social media platforms.

The cost of SEO marketing

SEO marketing takes time and resources. It also requires skills. SEO marketing does not necessarily have to be expensive. It is possible to implement effective SEO marketing strategies without incurring costs to advertise on search engines. This is an investment organic – or non-paid – SEO.

If no one within a company has sufficient knowledge or skills to perform SEO optimization themselves, it is wise to hire a professional SEO specialist or agency. This does come at a cost. The amount of the cost depends on the size of the website, the optimization needed.

There are also paid marketing methods such as search engine advertising (SEA) and paid promotions on social media platforms, which help optimize a website. This requires paying to rank higher in search results or to promote content to specific audiences. Paid methods are suitable for those looking for a quick way to increase the visibility of their website. Paid SEO methods are generally more expensive than organic SEO.

SEO marketing can be either free or paid. This depends on the specific methods. The skills and resources needed also play a role. A Web site owner must weigh the costs against the potential benefits to arrive at a good choice. Moreover, a strategy should always fit within a budget and personal goals.

Responding to search engine algorithm for better ranking

A good SEO marketing strategy can have a big impact on a website’s ranking. SEO marketing aims to help the search engine understand the content of a page. It also aims to provide relevant content to Internet users seeking certain information. In SEO marketing, search engines are not manipulated. It is a method of increasing the relevance and value of content for users.

Search engines do see certain strategies as manipulation. These are the so-called “black hat” SEO techniques. Some examples include keyword stuffing, cloaking or purchased backlinks. The above examples are not only unethical; they also lead to penalties from search engines. This negatively affects a website’s ranking and visibility.

‘White hat’ SEO techniques are techniques that search engines value. An SEO marketing with these methods out optimizes a website’s content ethically. Thus, search engines better understand what a website has to offer. This ensures that a website presents itself better to Internet users looking for certain information.

Components of SEO marketing and their influence

SEO ComponentImportance (1-100)Difficulty level (1-100)
1. Keyword research9580
2. On-Page SEO (meta tags, HTML structure, etc.)9070
3. Content creation and optimization9585
4. Link building (getting backlinks)9090
5. Technical SEO (website speed, mobile-friendliness, etc.)8580
6. Local SEO (Google My Business, local backlinks, etc.)8070
7. Social media integration7560
8. Analytics and reporting (Google Analytics, Search Console).8065
9. User experience (Site navigation, design, etc.).8575
10. Voice search optimization7080

Three pillars in SEO

There are three main pillars within SEO: technical SEO, content creation and link building. I discuss the pillars in more detail below.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is about optimizing the technical aspects of a website. Technical SEO helps make a website search engine friendly. This has a positive impact on visibility and ranking in organic search results. Below are some examples of how technical SEO can be applied:

  • Improve website speed: website speed is one of the most important aspects within technical SEO. Web site speed is important to both users and search engines. Speed can be improved in several ways. For example, it helps to reduce the size of images and videos, minimize HTML, CSS and JavaScript files, and reduce redirects(2).
  • Use SSL certificate: an SSL certificate ensures that the connection between the website and the user is secure. This is a positive signal for search engines. A website with an SSL certificate can be identified by “https” in the URL. Websites without an SSL certificate begin with “http” in the URL(3).
  • Website architecture optimization: a website architecture deals with how the pages of the website are structured and organized. When this architecture is optimized, search engines can more easily index a Web site. Ensure a logical and hierarchical layout of a website and a clear internal link structure.
  • Structured data: structured data, including schema.org markup, allows search engines to better understand a Web site’s content. In this way, they better present search results and are optimized for users to read. Structured data has a positive effect on website visibility in search results(4).
  • Good mobile display: more and more people perform their searches on their mobile. A mobile-friendly website is therefore essential. Search engines rate mobile-friendly websites rank higher in search results for mobile devices(5).
  • Robots.txt and sitemap.xml files: robots.txt and sitemap.xml files help search engines crawl and index a Web site. Robots.txt files give search engines instructions. This clarifies which pages search engines may and may not crawl. Sitemap.xml files are provided with list of all pages on a website to be indexed by search engines(6).

So technical SEO involves a lot of technical aspects. Optimal technical SEO increases a website’s visibility and ranking in search engines. Like standard SEO, technical SEO is an ongoing process. Monitor regularly and add adjustments as needed. This is the best way to stay compliant with the constantly changing algorithms of search engines. This allows a website to maintain a favorable position in organic search results.

Quality content

Content is also an important part of SEO. Content tells search engines what a website’s content is. It also provides relevant and valuable information to users.

The content must be high quality and premium. Moreover, a website’s content must be relevant and valuable to users. This can cause a website to rank higher in search engines. Optimize not only textual content, but also multimedia, including images and videos. Use keywords that are relevant to the target audience. It is important to incorporate keywords naturally into the content.

Sharing valuable and relevant content – think blog articles, videos or infographics – can contribute to off-page SEO. This increases the chances of quality backlinks and increased engagement on social media.

Write valuable SEO content

To write valuable content for SEO, a good balance between relevance to the target audience and optimization for search engines is necessary. Here are some tips for creating valuable and relevant content for SEO.

  1. Conduct keyword research: keyword research can reveal which keywords are relevant to the target audience. These keywords must be used in the content.
  2. Emphasize quality: create high-quality content that is useful and relevant to the target audience. Content should be informative and well-written.
  3. Long content writing: writing long content over 1,000 words can increase ranking in organic search results. However, relevance and quality of content are still the most important factors(7).
  4. Optimize title and meta description: Add relevant keywords in the title and meta description. This makes a page more attractive to both visitors and search engines(8).
  5. Use subheads: subheads give structure to content. Visitors and search engines can thus scan and read the content more easily.
  6. Add visuals: images and videos make content more appealing. They also increase reader engagement.
  7. Write for the user, not for search engines: create content that adds value for your target audience and don’t focus only on search engines. Good writing style and understandable content are important.
  8. Add internal links: internal links to other content are an important element of a successful Web site. Internal links offer 2 benefits: they increase reader engagement and improve navigation on a Web site.
  9. Promote content: it is necessary to promote content on social media and other channels. This way, the reach is increased and more traffic comes to a website.

The above tips help create valuable content creation. This content is both relevant to the target audience and to search engines. Content must be well written. Moreover, the texts should be informative and relevant. Keywords and optimization techniques are also important. This way, both visitors and search engines find the content more easily.

Link Building

Link building is an off-page SEO technique. Other websites may link to a company’s website. Link building increases authority and credibility of a website. This makes a website more visible. Also, the website will rank higher in organic search results.

Below are examples of ways to obtain link building:

  1. Natural links: natural links are links that other websites post to a website of their own accord. This happens when they find the content relevant.
  2. Outreach: this refers to actively approaching other websites. Request a website to link to it. For this, approach webmasters, bloggers and journalists, for example.
  3. Guest blogging: writing guest articles can lead to more links to the website.
  4. Link exchange: this involves exchanging links to each other’s Web sites. Both parties gain from this.

Not all links have the same value. The quality of links is judged by search engines based on several factors. Among other things, the relevance and authority of the linking page and the anchor text used (the text used to describe a page) are assessed.

Link building should also be done in an ethical manner. So do not use black-hat techniques – these include buying links or placing spammy links on irrelevant websites. Black-hat techniques lead to search engine penalties. The search engines will actually rank a website lower in this case.

Link building is an off-page SEO technique of great importance. It can lead to high-quality links to a website. Link building can help increase a website’s authority and credibility. Moreover, it can increase ranking and visibility in search results.

How can you collect backlinks?

Backlinks are links that point to a website from other websites. Backlinks are also called “inbound links.” These links are an important factor for search engines to determine a Web site’s authority and credibility(9).

However, the quality is not the same for every link. The authority and relevance of a linking website are very important. The points below are examples of factors by which search engines judge the quality of backlinks:

  • Relevant links: a backlink that comes from a website relevant to the topic has more value.
  • Website authority: backlinks from websites with high authority are more valuable than links from lesser-known websites. Backlinks from news websites or universities are some examples of high authority websites.
  • Anchor text: the anchor text of a backlink determines how valuable a backlink is. An anchor text is text that another Web site uses to link to a page. An anchor text should always be relevant.
  • The number of backlinks: the number of backlinks pointing to a website can increase a website’s authority. However, the backlinks should always contain high quality content to get a higher rating from search engines.

Backlinks should always be obtained ethically. So do not use black-hat techniques, including buying backlinks or placing spammy links on irrelevant websites. This can result in a penalty from search engines. A website’s ranking and visibility also drop.

Collecting backlinks can be done in the following ways:

  • Create valuable content: publish valuable and relevant content on a website to gather more backlinks. Other websites are more likely to link to websites with useful and informative content.
  • Outreach: approaching webmasters, bloggers and journalists active in your industry can lead to more backlinks. Ask them if they want to link to the website. Approach potential partners in a personal way. The people approached are also important; they should be individuals from specific, relevant companies or websites.
  • Guest blogging: write guest articles for other websites in the same industry. Refer by link to your own website. This leads to a greater number of visitors.
  • Social media: social media is excellent for promoting content on it. Include a link to the website in the profile information. Not only does this bring more visitors to the website, this is also an effective way to get more backlinks.
  • Link exchange: exchange links with other websites in the same industry.
  • Branded content: creating valuable branded content with a mention of the brand and website is key. Think infographics or white papers. This may encourage others to refer to the website.
  • References: check whether other websites mention the brand. If this is the case, ask them to link to the website.

It takes time and effort to get backlinks. The most important thing is always to collect high-quality backlinks from relevant and reliable websites. Black-hat techniques such as buying backlinks should be avoided. These actually cause search engine penalties.

Monitoring SEO

An important part of SEO marketing is monitoring a website’s performance. There are several tools for this:

  1. Google Analytics: this free web analytics service from Google can measure and analyze traffic to a website. It creates important statistics, including the number of visits, bounce rate and average session duration of visitors.
  2. Google Search Console: This is a free tool from Google. This helps manage a website. This tool also contributes to search engine optimization. Google Search Console provides insights into search performance. Among other things, the number of clicks, impressions and average position in search results are measured. Google Search Console also helps troubleshoot technical problems with a Web site.
  3. Rank trackers: Rank trackers allow you to track a website’s ranking for specific keywords. There are both free and paid versions. Some examples of well-known rank trackers are SEMrush, Ahrefs and SERPWatcher.
  4. Backlink analysis: quality and relevance of backlinks should be kept track of. Several tools are suitable for this purpose, think Ahrefs, Majestic and Moz.
  5. Website speed and mobile friendliness: a website’s speed and mobile friendliness have a major impact on SEO performance. To measure these aspects, tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights and Google Mobile-Friendly Test are appropriate. By being aware of areas of concern, it is also possible to improve them.

Monitor the performance of a Web site regularly and make any adjustments to improve it. It is important to comply with the changing algorithms of search engines. This ensures continued increased visibility and higher search engine rankings.

What websites is SEO marketing suitable for?

SEO marketing can be applied to almost all types of websites – from a small blog or personal website to a large corporate website or e-commerce store. SEO can contribute significantly to website findability. This helps strengthen the online presence. It also makes a Web site easier to find in search engines.

SEO marketing helps reach a target audience and ensures online growth for all types of website – for owners of a local business to entrepreneurs operating globally. The most important aspects remain creating valuable content, optimizing a website and building high-quality links. SEO marketing is an effective and sustainable marketing strategy for all types of websites.

SEO for local websites

SEO can be used in several ways for local websites. These are examples of commonly used methods:

  1. Local keywords: local keywords in content and meta tags are very important. These ensure that a Web site is displayed in local search results. For example, use keywords like “restaurants in Amsterdam” instead of a general search term like “restaurants.
  2. Google My Business: register a business with Google My Business. Please complete all information in full. This way, a website is more easily found in local searches. In addition, this is a good place to share useful business information (e.g., address, phone number, hours of operation and photos).
  3. Local directories: register a business with local directories. Yelp or Tripadvisor are some examples.
  4. Local link building: build links with local websites and blogs. This improves local SEO. Approach local businesses and organizations and ask if they would like to post a link pointing to the website.
  5. Reviews: ask customers to write reviews on Google My Business and other review sites. Not only does this contribute to better local SEO, it also leads to a better and trustworthy online reputation.
  6. Local content: create content regarding local topics and events. Some examples are festivals or nearby attractions. This way, more local traffic will come to the website and SEO will improve.

Focus the local SEO strategy on attracting local visitors. Local keywords, Google My Business, local directories, local link building, reviews and local content contribute to better local SEO. Optimal local SEO leads to more targeted visitors to a website.

SEO for international websites

SEO can also be appropriate for international websites. It can help make a website more visible to different countries and languages. For example, use the methods below to do this:

  1. International keywords: use keywords relevant to the specific target audience in different countries and languages. To determine the right keywords, conducting keyword research is important. Pay attention to local search customs and language.
  2. International domain name and URL structure: it is important to use an international domain name and URL structure. This will best optimize a website for international searches. For example, go for ccTLDs (country code top-level domains) such as .de for Germany and .fr for France.
  3. Optimized content for different languages: a website’s content should be optimized for different languages. Local keywords contribute to this. In addition, have the content translated into the language of the relevant country.
  4. Hreflang tags: hreflang tags inform search engines of the language and country for which the pages were created. Search engines thus better understand which pages to display in search results in specific countries and languages(10).
  5. Use local backlinks: Obtain local backlinks from different countries to gain visibility and authority in different countries.
  6. Using local social media: local social media channels are an appropriate platform to increase awareness of a brand and website. In this way, SEO performance is increased in the countries in which a website operates.

Tailor an international SEO strategy to the needs and habits of target audiences in different countries and languages. Uses international keywords, an international domain name and URL structure, optimized content for different languages, hreflang tags, local backlinks and local social media to improve international SEO.

SEO vs SEA

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEA (Search Engine Advertising) are two methods of getting more traffic to a Web site. What does vary is how they do it and the associated costs.

SEO is all about improving organic search results. These are the unpaid search results. To do this, optimize the website’s content, structure and HTML code and build backlinks and social media engagement. SEO makes a website more visible and rank higher in search results. This does not require paying for advertising space in search engines.

SEA involves paying for ads on search engines for the purpose of higher ranking in search results. This requires paying a certain amount for each click on the ad. The payment aspect is the biggest difference with SEO. SEA aims to get direct results in search results.

Here are the main differences between SEO and SEA:

  • Cost: SEO is usually cheaper than SEA. With SEO, a website does not pay for ads.
  • Time: With SEO, it takes more time to get results. SEA, on the other hand, provides quick results.
  • Sustainability: results from SEO are generally more durable; they retain impact longer than SEA results. The optimizations have a more permanent impact on the website. In the case of SEA, it is necessary to pay to maintain SEA results.

SEO and SEA both aim to generate traffic to a Web site. While both ways are effective, there are differences in how to achieve the goals. The main difference concerns cost. Choose which method best suits the business, as well as the budget.

SEO marketing: a sustainable process

SEO is primarily focused on the long term. Therefore, results will not be immediately visible. When these are visible varies by situation. It also depends on several factors, such as:

  1. Competition: the more competition there is in the market , the longer it takes to see results from SEO efforts.
  2. Keyword difficulty: using keywords with high competition and difficulty can cause results to be seen later.
  3. Technical aspects of the website: technical problems on a website affect SEO results. So solve these problems quickly.

It can take anywhere from several months to even a year to see the results of SEO efforts. So some patience is definitely required. In addition, monitor the strategy regularly and make adjustments as needed.

SEO is an ongoing process. The results of your SEO efforts change due to changes in search engines’ search algorithm, changes in the market or changes in competition. To keep track of results, monitoring is key.

Summary

SEO marketing is an indispensable part of online marketing strategy. This applies to all websites. To optimize SEO marketing, it is important to use the right techniques. Optimize the technical aspects, create valuable content and obtain high-quality links.

SEO is an ongoing process, not a one-time investment. Continue to monitor results and make adjustments as needed. This makes it possible to increase online presence and brand awareness. This can lead to more conversions and revenue.

Senior SEO-specialist

Ralf van Veen

Senior SEO-specialist
Five stars
My clients give me a 5.0 on Google out of 75 reviews

I have been working for 10 years as an independent SEO specialist for companies (in the Netherlands and abroad) that want to rank higher in Google in a sustainable manner. During this period I have consulted A-brands, set up large-scale international SEO campaigns and coached global development teams in the field of search engine optimization.

With this broad experience within SEO, I have developed the SEO course and helped hundreds of companies with improved findability in Google in a sustainable and transparent way. For this you can consult my portfolio, references and collaborations.

This article was originally published on 27 March 2024. The last update of this article was on 27 March 2024. The content of this page was written and approved by Ralf van Veen. Learn more about the creation of my articles in my editorial guidelines.