Hey! I’m Marissa, a freelance web designer and digital marketer. I love working with clients to take the overwhelm out of getting their business online. Thanks for stopping by and taking a look at my blog!

Part 2 Fundamentals of Digital Marketing: SEO, SEM and Display Advertising


This blog is the second in a five-part series all about digital marketing. In this post, we’ll dive a bit further into Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engine Marketing and display advertising.

In Part 1 of my series on the different aspects of digital marketing, we covered a brief overview of all of the elements that make up a well-rounded digital marketing plan. In the rest of this series we’re going to go a bit further into each of these elements so that we can get a better understanding of each, and then use them to create our own digital marketing strategy.

How can I improve my SEO?

SEO is the fine art of optimising your website so that it organically appears higher up in search engine rankings. There are many different ways you can improve your SEO, and therefore lots of things to take into consideration. Many website designers will do an initial SEO optimisation when building your site, or may outsource this to an SEO specialist. When building your site with SEO in mind, there are some important factors to work on such as:

– Heading tags

– Keywords included in written copy

– Image optimisation

– Alt tags

– Meta tags

– Link optimisation (internal and external)

I really like this visual representation from Moz about the many different parts that make up a website’s SEO strategy:

SEO can also be divided up into two separate camps: on page SEO or off page SEO. On page SEO relates to the items listed above, and consists of the parts of your website that can be optimised for better SEO results. Off page SEO is built on other web pages linking to or driving traffic to your website. For example, posting your content on other sites such as MediumFacebook or Twitter and then linking these to your site.

As you can see, SEO (similar to all aspects of digital marketing) is made up of many moving parts. You can optimise initially to include many of these factors, but ideally you will have someone working on your SEO on an ongoing basis. This could include working on improving keywords, page titles and headlines, tweaking blog titles, publishing good quality content, building links and tracking progress of your results. SEO is a long-term game though, and can take a while to see good results. Many people don’t have the patience to invest in this on a long term basis, but if you want to gain traffic online from your organic search results, good SEO is a must.

One of my favourite go-to SEO resources is Neil Patel. He puts out so much high quality, long form, and  useful written content and videos; there is always a ton to learn from him. He also has a great podcast with Eric Siu called Digital Marketing School, with a short episode every day that’s packed with tips from their many years of marketing experience. I would definitely recommend following Neil and subscribing to their podcast for lots of great, actionable info about SEO and many other aspects of digital marketing.

A good working knowledge of SEO is important for your digital marketing strategy, but there are many people who specialise in this field. If you have the income and are willing to invest, you can find a number of freelancers or agencies who offer a variety of SEO services that will be of great benefit to your organic results. In practice, your SEO efforts should create a website experience that is easy and effective for search engines to understand, but also creates a good experience for your users.

Do I need to do SEM too?

As we covered in Part 1 of this series, you don’t have to do every single aspect of the elements that make up digital marketing. However, an effective digital marketing strategy will involve a well-rounded and omnipresent approach. Search engine marketing can be a very effective way to get more traffic to your site. The cost of this will depend on your industry and what keywords you want to use.

Again, this is an entirely bigger subject on its own to delve into, and you will find many people specialising in aspects of SEM, such as Google Ads experts. Google itself has great free resources to work through all the parts of their platform and get started with their ads. This requires the initial work of setting up your ads, and then also requires ongoing tweaking for optimised results and to keep an eye on results and ad spend. Utilising their platform, you will be able to research keywords and the traffic generated by each, set up a variety of ads, track your results, and continually optimise each aspect of your ads. To properly track your results and search traffic you’ll also want to have Google Analytics set up (best practice and minimal analytics for any site!). There’s a great article here that walks through tips to run an effective search campaign.

How does display advertising factor into things?

Display advertising is different than search engine marketing, and has a lower conversion rate (less than one percent across all industries). You can see here the difference between search engine advertising conversion rates and display advertising conversion rates:

The simple reason for this is that search engine ads are displayed when people are searching for a service or product with intent (i.e, being served an ad for Nike running shoes when searching for ‘best running shoes for women’), and users being served display ads are typically browsing websites and not in the intentional search phase of looking for a new product or service. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try display advertising, but to help you be conscious of your target customer’s mindset and how you will grab their attention with your adverts. Neil Patel has a great article here that dives into exactly how and why this difference really matters, and how it can affect your approach to display advertising.


SEO, SEM and Display Advertising work best hand in hand

Ultimately, you would ideally work on each of these aspects as part of your wider digital marketing strategy. SEM and display advertising have the advantage of quicker results, but can be expensive and require ongoing optimisation to see a good ROI. SEO is a longer term game, but essential if you want your website to rank well within search engine results and therefore, for your audience to find your site.

Up next: best practice and pointers for SMM

Next we’ll move on to Part 3 in this series, where we’ll take a look at social media marketing. As always, I welcome your comments and questions below!

More to explore