Post updated 20 April 2022
Marketing shouldn’t be a question of SEO or Email marketing. But I understand why some folk think like that. Both are marketing functions, but require very separate skill sets.
Like Email Marketing, SEO is an area which is constantly evolving and needs a specific level of expertise and effort to get results.
But marketing rarely relies on one channel alone, it works best as a team effort across several marketing channels.
So how can you apply SEO principles to your email marketing, when creating content or driving traffic.
The question isn’t SEO or email marketing.
Email marketing is a great way to keep in touch with your customer base. Sending the right email at the right time puts the customer in control of their buying. Which makes you a lovely business, instead of an annoying one.
You’re like a helpful butler, popping up to remind them they’re out of butter, so would you like to buy some more? Rather than the used car salesman who is only out to sell.
But email marketing has its limits. The biggest problem with emails is that search engines can’t index them. From automated emails to full-on newsletters, they’re hidden away in inboxes.
Link your SEO and Email Marketing.
Why does indexing matter? Search engines like to poke around your content to decide what’s relevant. Then they use that to work out where to put your website in their search results.
This is where email marketing and SEO cross paths. At first glance, they look poles apart. Email marketing is more about the personal touch. You speak to your customers regularly. Using your data, you can figure out who they are.
SEO is impersonal. It’s about optimising your website to tell Google you’re worth a second look. Or Bing, if that floats your boat. It means using the right keywords. Provide value to keep visitors nosing around your site. Generate inbound links to you from other sites to say ‘Google, this site is worthy’. You don’t know who the visitors are.
But you can use SEO within your email marketing. And you can use email marketing to improve your SEO.
The Cycle of Traffic to your Websand.
At a basic level, your emails send traffic to your site. Because subscribers know you, it’s likely that they will more engaged once they get there. They’ll spend longer on the site because they knew what to expect when they clicked the link. That leads to lower bounce rates, which refers to how long a visitor spends on a page. A lower rate tells search engines the content is worth sticking around for.
It also leads to more internal clicks on your website. Someone who takes time to click a link to your website wants to see more of your stuff. That leads to them spending longer on your whole site. Which also tells search engines you are a trusted and relevant place to send users.
For SEO maestro Neil Patel, email traffic accounts for 41% of his blog comments. But it only accounts for 14% of his website traffic. That shows newsletter subscribers are more engaged with him as an authority. Replicate the results and engaged subscribers would be the ones to take action on your site.
And if your content is good enough, it can lead to more social shares. While Google denies that social shares impact your search rankings, they can’t hurt. Plus. that gets your website in front of even more people you can help with your product or service.
All these factors lead to better SEO. And you only had to put good stuff on your website and send your subscribers there.
The link between SEO and email marketing is a two-way process. We’ve looked at the email to website direction. Going the other way, new visitors to your website like your content and subscribe. Or they buy a product and sign up.
But how else can you leverage your emails to help improve your SEO?
Turn Newsletters into Online Content
If you send a newsletter, consider posting content on a blog to get it indexed. Search engines can pick up the content and it’ll contribute to your search rankings.
Create a digest of popular posts and send that out.
Or you can create a newsletter archive on your website. New visitors to your site can see the content you send to subscribers. Think of it like ‘try before you buy’. That’s a good way to build trust with new subscribers. And in the wake of GDPR, it’s easier to give consent when you know what you’re giving consent for.
As an alternative, post content on your company blog. Put links in your email to let subscribers know it’s there. If you receive our Sunday Supplement, this model will be familiar. If you’re not yet subscribed, why not sign up below and get blog posts like these in your inbox?
Check out our guide to linking email and content marketing for more handy tips.
Next, Apply SEO Principles to Your Emails
For many people, SEO means keywords. And keywords still play a part. But Google’s use of the RankBrain algorithm means it’s much better at working out the context of your content. It even understands synonyms. No more keyword-stuffing!
With that in mind, write your emails for human readers. Write your website content the same way. In the bad old days of SEO, people wrote web pages to suit Google. While the robots crawling websites loved them, they were unreadable for actual people. Thanks to RankBrain, Google prefers content written from one person to another. Apply that to your emails.
Personalise your email content
For example? ‘Your product has been dispatched’ sounds so robotic. Try ‘Your item is winging its way to you now – good choice, by the way’, instead.
And you can still use the principles of keywords in one major area – subject lines. Make it clear what the email is about. Let the subscriber know what benefit they’ll get for opening the email. CoSchedule even provides a free tool to test subject lines.
But I don’t send a newsletter! What do I do?
Maybe you are more on the SEO side of the SEO or email marketing debate. All the advice applies to companies that write blog posts or send newsletters. What if you don’t send emails like that?
Do you rely on automated emails, triggered by specific customer actions? Leverage sending traffic to your website instead. Focus on the time they spend on your site. Add ‘you may also like’ links to your store to recommend extra products to your customers. Or consider adding a review section to let potential customers find out more.
It all adds up to more time spent on the site which helps boost your domain authority. That tells Google to put you higher up the search engine results. Which leads to more traffic and potential customers.
Your emails become the way you send existing customers back to your site. Then regular SEO kicks in to help win new visitors.
Or consider adding product tutorials to your website. Add a link to the tutorial to any automated purchase emails. It sends buyers back to your site and helps them get the most out of their new product.
If you’re a hotel or an event space, consider adding ‘best places to visit’ posts to your website. Direct people who book back to these pages.
Think about how you can add value to purchases or bookings. Add your solutions to your website (where Google can index them). Then link back from your automated emails.
Be relentlessly helpful and provide useful content to your customers. And if optimising this content helps boost your reputation with Google?
Well, then everyone’s a winner.
And if that nasty GDPR has you running scared about collecting email addresses, read our guide on collecting marketing consent.
Don’t over-complicate your SEO or email marketing.
A lot of gurus make both marketing activities sound harder than they need to be. But the basic principle of both is the same. Provide what the customer needs when they need it.
But if you can connect the two, you can 1-up your marketing strategy and halve your efforts. Which gives you more time to spend helping your customers or developing new products.
Want help setting up your email marketing to boost your SEO? Get in touch. We’re here to help you make your customers’ inboxes a better place.
And we’re standing by!