What Is SEO Marketing?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn about SEO marketing, discover why it’s important, and explore five steps you can take now to improve your site’s SEO and start seeing results.

[Featured image] An SEO marketer presents a chart to a group at a conference table.

SEO (search engine optimization) marketing is the process of optimizing your website and its content for visibility. An SEO-friendly site ranks high on a search engine results page (SERP) for relevant search queries (also called keywords), such as “ice cream near me” or “how to choose a career,” without the use of paid ads. In other words, optimizing your site for SEO makes it easier for internet searchers to find your content, products, and services.

SEO consists of several elements that help search engines like Google and Bing determine what a website is about and how it should rank on a search engine results page (SERP). These elements fall into three categories:

  • On-page SEO refers to a webpage’s content and how its creators craft it. Search engines look for content that is relevant to the keyword, satisfies searcher intent, is well-structured and easy to navigate, and offers authoritative information within an industry. 

  • Off-page SEO refers to the backlinks a site acquires. Backlinks occur when other sites link to pages on your site. The more authoritative and relevant, the better for SEO. Over time, backlinks can contribute to your site’s authority and exposure.  

  • Technical SEO refers to the backend aspects of your site, including title tags and meta descriptions that appear in a webpage's source code, the site’s structure and navigation, how pages within a site link to one another, and the site’s loading time. 

The goal is to optimize elements in all three categories and have them operate harmoniously. In this article, you’ll learn why SEO marketing is so essential and the steps you can take to improve your SEO content marketing efforts.  

Why is SEO marketing important?

An SEO-friendly site can lead to better rankings in SERPs, increase organic traffic, and attract more consumers in your target market. Here are three additional reasons why you should prioritize your SEO marketing efforts.  

1. An SEO-friendly site provides an engaging user experience.

When you’ve optimized your website, visitors are more likely to enjoy their experience in the following ways:

SEO elementUser experience
Optimized site architecture and navigationClicking from one page of the site to another with ease
Optimized content on every pageReading a webpage easily, absorbing authoritative and relevant information, taking actions such as subscribing to emails, filling out a contact form, or making a purchase
Faster load timesClicking and scrolling faster with minimal delays in viewing information

2. Ranking well in search results brings more (free) traffic to your site.

You’ll want to build a solid SEO marketing strategy considering recent digital advertising trends. Using one, you can rank well in search results and attract more organic traffic to your site, meaning people find and click on your content without paid ads. In addition, you can become a trusted source of information in the marketplace, increasing the effectiveness of your paid ads.  

Did you know? Improving your site’s organic search traffic can reduce the costs of acquiring customers by 87 per cent, according to a report by Terakeet, a marketing technology platform [1].


3. SEO insights can help you understand what customers want.

Much of running a successful business is knowing what customers want. You can gain customer insights throughout the SEO marketing process, including: 

  • Keyword research about the terms customers are searching, from questions asking how and why to the names of products and brands

  • Understanding searcher intent or why customers search for particular keywords 

  • Learning what content drives actions such as subscribing or purchasing products 

Your guide to SEO content marketing

In this section, you’ll improve your website’s content, domain authority, and technical elements. The goal is to make your site more discoverable and helpful for your target audience. Follow the steps below to get started.   

1. Analyze your competitors’ SEO.

Just as you perform a competitive analysis to identify market gaps and differentiate your products and marketing efforts, you’ll need to investigate and analyze competitors’ SEO. That way, you can give your site and its content a competitive edge.

  • Make a list of your competitors, including ones you’re already familiar with and ones that rank at the top of SERPs for keywords related to your products and services.

  • Audit competitors’ web content, site structure, navigation, and user-experience features like call-to-action buttons and page design. How authoritative is the content? How easy is it to click around, find information, and take action?    

  • Find out what secondary or related keywords your competitors rank for and the monthly search volume for each.

  • Find out what meta tags your competitors are using by right-clicking anywhere on their sites and selecting “view page source” from the menu that pops up.  

  • Use an SEO tool like SEMRush, Ahrefs, or Moz to determine what keywords these competitors rank for on each webpage. 

Did you know? Finding out a keyword’s monthly search volume, or the number of times the keyword has been searched online in a given month can make it easier to discover popular topics in your niche.



2. Understand your target audience from an SEO perspective.

In this step, you will gain a deeper understanding of your audience, including what they search for online and the intent behind it, so that you can generate content your audience finds relevant.

  • Install a Google Chrome extension, such as MozBar or Keyword Surfer, to explore relevant keywords. These tools allow you to conduct keyword research from your browser while viewing SERPs.  

  • Use SEMRush to determine searcher intent for each keyword, including navigational (looking for a specific site), informational (looking for information or answers to a question), transactional (intending to complete an action or make a purchase), and commercial (intending to investigate products).  

  • Analyze SERPs to discover what questions searchers ask, related searches and questions, featured snippets that Google predicts searchers will click on, and more. 

3. Create SEO-friendly content.

Consistent effort is required to create SEO-friendly content that your target audience finds valuable. You’ll want to optimize every page of your website, including the home page, about page, and other static pages, as well as blogs, articles, sales pages, and lead capture landing pages.

  • Written content should include unique, authoritative information that satisfies searcher intent for a particular keyword. 

  • Integrate the keyword and related keywords into your subheadings and text seamlessly and grammatically without overusing them. 

  • Structure the content on each page to provide a logical and easy-to-navigate reading experience. Use subheadings, bullet points, and numbered lists to organize information into smaller sections that are easy to find and skim.  

  • Embed relevant images, graphics, and videos to enhance the reading experience. 

  • Include links to other relevant pages of your site in anchor text.

  • Include helpful calls to action to make it easy for site visitors to subscribe, fill out forms, and purchase.

4. Improve your technical SEO.

Businesses often work with web developers or IT professionals to improve their sites’ technical SEO. If you have access to your site’s admin panel, you may be able to make these improvements or fix issues yourself. Start by logging into your website’s admin panel, where you’ll find different options for updating your site’s settings, including metadata and navigation menus. 

For each webpage, follow these steps: 

  • Craft a title tag that includes the keyword you want the page to rank for and clearly describes the content of each page in 50 to 60 characters.

  • Create a page description that contains the keyword, summarizes the page, and conveys the page’s unique value in up to 160 characters.

  • Reduce the size of images so that they load quickly. For example, if your image is 5,000 pixels wide, reduce it to 2,000 or 1,200 pixels. 

  • Name image files with keywords and descriptions and separate each word with a hyphen. For example, if the image is automatically saved to your device as “image1.jpg,” rename it to “dark-roast-coffee.jpg.” 

For the site as a whole, follow these steps: 

  • Set up a straightforward navigation menu to help site visitors find pages.

  • Make a site map with information about your site’s pages, videos, and files and the relationship between them. 

  • Create a Google Search Console account and submit your site map so that Google can crawl your site more effectively.  

5. Acquire relevant, authoritative backlinks.

To improve your off-page SEO, create a plan for getting other sites to link to your content. 

  • Make a list of sites relevant to your website, not competitors, with high domain authority. 

  • Reach out to these site creators or content managers to request backlinks. Be sure to offer an incentive, such as high-quality content to improve upon what they’re currently linking to, or propose a topic for a guest blog post you want to write for them. 

  • Post pages from your site to social media and include links in your email marketing to get more clicks and increase the chances that other sites will choose to link to your content. 

SEO marketing key takeaways and best practices

Remember: SEO marketing is a crucial part of your digital marketing efforts. It can increase organic traffic to your site and entice potential customers to subscribe or purchase. Be consistent with your SEO marketing efforts over time and keep these best practices in mind: 

When using different SEO tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs, and Moz, pay attention to new features or updates to existing features that can improve your SEO marketing efforts. For example, SEMRush offers a Google Chrome extension called PageImprove, which allows you to make quick SEO improvements from your browser.

Stay current on how search engines like Google and Bing rank web pages. Periodic changes can affect how your pages will rank and how you should address SEO. For example, in March of 2022, Google rolled out updates establishing criteria for determining whether a product review can rank high in a search [2]. Product reviews must:

  • Show reviewers’ knowledge about and experience with products through visuals, audio, or other links. 

  • Detail the benefits and drawbacks of a product based on the reviewer’s original research.

  • Describe how a product compares to its competitors in quantifiable terms.

Improve your SEO marketing strategy with Coursera.

If you’re ready to master SEO practices for the long term, consider taking online courses. Doing so can be a great way to build SEO skills, produce authoritative content in your niche, rank higher in search results, and attract more potential customers to your site.

Explore these options: 

Article sources


Terakeet. “The Compounding Value of Organic Search, https://insights.terakeet.com/rs/680-HEX-994/images/Terakeet_MarketingValue_Report_2022.pdf.” Accessed May 21, 2024.

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