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Search Marketing Integration: A Cross Between Digital Marketing and SEO

You’ve heard of SEO and you’ve heard of digital marketing but what are the differences between the two? More importantly, how can they be tied together to create a powerhouse marketing strategy?

Over the years, I’ve observed similar misnomers and often wondered how or why. For example, some think of sales and marketing, link building and content marketing , or marketing and advertising as one in the same. Yes, they are related, but why aren’t they thought of as the unique individuals they are? There are clear distinctions that give each of these things their own clout, yet instead they get stuck on a cruise with the wrong group. I must be feeling protective this week because I don’t want this same thing to happen to SEO and digital marketing! They each deserve their due justice before ending up with a lifetime of inaccurate labels. Besides, nobody likes to be misunderstood.

Like misnomers before their time, SEO and digital marketing (DM) are closely related but they are not identical twins, or, as Jon Ball of SearchEnginge Journal says, they are two different peas in a pod. While SEO is a form of digital marketing, it does stand on it’s own three letters. An SEO company is hired to ethically manipulate a website’s search engine rankings and an SEO expert is trained to execute said optimization, thus increasing both traffic and revenue. A digital marketer may use SEO as one of its many tools.

Where their two cross paths most often is in areas such as content, email, social media and mobile marketing. In the past, SEO was as simple as keywords, backlinks and directories but that just isn’t the case today and "old SEO" might actually do more harm than good. In today's digital landscape, an arsenal of varied content is essential for securing SEO success. These days, what search engines want out of your website is much more closely aligned with what consumers want out of your website. And it has to be ongoing output that people actually see which then leads to sharing and conversation. It's not just a one and done type of deal - that would be too easy. We like to think of it as digital conversation which leads to conversion. 

Digital media encompasses more than just what is mentioned above, though. Its reach extends to billboards, TV, PR, video, radio to name a few. In fact, its goal is reach. The target is not solely web visitors but an increased online presence leading to increased overall visibility. Its power comes from combining the right media at the right time.

As we transition into the combination of SEO and DM, a fairly recent trend, we also get a new term – Search Marketing Integration (SMI), which some refer to as the "new SEO". It’s all fun and games until new acronyms are thrown into the alphabet soup! Digital Marketing expert Brad Miller of Fathom states,

Over the next couple of years SMI will become a pre-requisite for a first-page listing on Google. SMI will revolutionize the entire organization’s approach to sales, marketing, PR, branding and everything in between. For an SMI practitioner, success will be tied to the ability to integrate SEO tactics across an organization’s marketing department. Politics, leverage, and action will be equally as important as title tags, link building, and keyword themes.

You always knew that combining marketing efforts had the potential to produce higher results but now you know of at least two that go really well together. DM + SEO = SMI for life.