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Search Engine Optimization: The Key to Online Marketing


Search engine optimization (SEO) is essential to digital marketing success because online consumers conduct trillions of searches each year to learn about products and services. SEO refers to the process of making incremental website improvements to increase visibility following user search queries related to a website’s business or topic. Best SEO practices include smart, relevant keyword research, developing high-quality content that matches consumers’ search queries, linking from high-authority websites and tracking results.

The stronger your website’s visibility to search engines, the stronger your digital properties perform in attracting attention, commanding engagement and driving revenue. Just consider these statistics:

  • Search engines are the starting point for 68% of online experiences. (BrightEdge)
  • Organic search drives 53% of all website traffic. (BrightEdge)
  • Google owns 91.94% of the search engine market share. (Statcounter)
  • A #1 organic position in Google can result in a click-through rate (CTR) of 34.2%. (Sistrix)

How SEO Works

Search engines such as Google and Bing crawl website pages using bots and collect information for their indexes. Algorithms analyze pages in these indexes, accounting for hundreds of ranking signals to determine which pages are most authoritative for any given query. Ranking signals are proxies for understanding a website’s user experience (UX) in relation to its competitors. Optimizing web pages to incorporate ranking signals drives higher rankings, which sets the stage for accomplishing the following digital marketing objectives:

SEO Brings in Targeted Consumers and Amplifies the Consumer Voice

SEO can reduce the cost of customer acquisition by 87% according to Terakeet. Because SEO data offers clear consumer intent and user behavior signals, what marketers learn through query data, SERP analysis, analytics data and AI insights can guide them to attract more highly targeted consumers. The better the match between searching consumer and landing website, the greater the potential for interest, engagement, bookmarking, repeat visits, sales and long-term loyalty. Capturing highly targeted consumers at a cost that decreases over time is perhaps the most significant power of the organic search channel, which is why smart brands allocate so many resources to SEO optimization.

The major search engines continue to get better and better at producing relevant search results, which benefits both consumers and marketers. As a result, consumers feel heard and marketers have an effective way to respond when consumers request information. One of the latest examples is Google’s introduction of a new component to its core algorithm, RankBrain, which uses machine learning and an interpretation model to determine the searcher’s true intent.

SEO Builds Visibility, Authority, Trust and Engagement

According to Terakeet, SEO ROI can be as high as 12.2x marketing spend. Search engines connect consumers to the companies that can meet their needs during the research stage. Search engines accrue and recognize website authority over time. The calculation comes from a combination of natural links to the site, length of user stays, engagement on the site, machine learning signals and optimized on-page elements and content. In the eyes of the consumer, the process of building authority, trust and engagement begins with visibility.

When search engine users see your web properties after executing a query, the message they get from your high ranking is clear — your company has the answers to their questions and the information they need to become educated consumers. When their initial user experience (UX) is positive, it confirms that their action in clicking on your web property was correct. That initiates the process of building trust and engagement through a positive user experience (UX).

SEO and user experience (UX) work synergistically to generate targeted leads and increase a website’s visibility. Positive experiences result in more traffic and engagement, increasing brand authority and SEO rankings. It is a cyclical process.

SEO Keywords Support Content Marketing

Terkeet also notes that SEO can increase the business value of a blog visit by 429%. Marketers place strategically researched SEO keywords in website content because they match the search queries of target consumers. Prominent keyword placement in headlines, subheads and body copy enables websites to immediately establish credibility and trust, and from there, content quality and features build engagement. Strong content balances SEO with writing quality and readability, addressing customer needs and presentation style with data-driven analytics to optimize SEO.

Content comes in various forms, including blog posts, articles, videos, downloadable reports and user-generated content such as forums. The content marketing strategy must prioritize consistency of on-page optimization so that visitors consistently have their expectations met for relevant information, quality presentation and a positive user experience. According to HubSpot, video has become the top form of media used in content strategy, which works on websites and across digital platforms, including Facebook and YouTube, driving interested consumers to company websites.

Both marketers and consumers appreciate SEO because it is an intentional, data-driven approach to matching consumers with the companies that can meet their needs. As such, it is the most cost-effective way for marketers to reach consumers in moments that matter and to deliver on many of their most fundamental long-term objectives. An advanced business degree can equip professionals with the necessary SEO skills to help businesses thrive.

Learn more about Lamar University’s online Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing program.

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