Digital marketing has evolved through the years. Today a website is just a slice of the pie, and digital marketing has become an entire segment of advertising. It’s not just one particular activity anymore. It’s a whole category just like print advertising or broadcast advertising, encompassing a number of different mediums and digital marketing strategies.   

I’d like to start the conversation by addressing the elephant in the room “what even is digital marketing”? It’s pretty common to hear people using terms like digital, online, internet and web interchangeably when referring to this type of marketing. To get all deep on you, I’m just not sure that’s quite right.

What is online marketing?

You can pretty much use the terms web, internet and online advertising interchangeably – they mean the same thing. I consider these to be the things that I have to access online or need the internet to see and/or implement. Web/internet/online marketing is digital marketing, BUT(!) digital marketing is not web/internet/online advertising. Still with me?

Are digital marketing and online marketing the same thing?

If you’re asking me, that’s a big NO. The reason I don’t think you can use the term digital interchangeably with web, online or internet is because digital marketing isn’t always online. It can take place in many places. Digital advertising could be an ad on an electronic billboard, on a waiting room TV or an app on my phone. You don’t necessarily need the internet to engage in this type of advertising, but it does encompass online mediums as well.

My definition of digital advertising is all the types of marketing communication I can’t physically touch. They live in my computer or in my phone, heck they live in anything with a microchip. I think of digital as the big bad mamajama category that all those other things fall into.

When people talk about digital marketing they are often referring to one or more of the big six:

What about SEO?

Now, I know what you’re thinking. What about SEO? If you’re not thinking “what about SEO” then you’re probably thinking “what the heck is SEO?” For you newbies, SEO stands for search engine optimization, which is really just fancy for how your website shows up on search engines like Google.

Is SEO digital marketing?

Yes, for sure. Part of digital marketing is online marketing. Anything that allows people to come in contact with your brand on the internet falls under the umbrella of online marketing.  

So why didn’t I list it as one of the big six?

SEO is a giant beast. There are a boatload of things that culminate into SEO. Most of the activities you have to do to achieve good SEO are actually listed IN the big six.  Yeah I know, I’m nesting categories here but I mean the same pair of shoes can be kids shoes, tennis shoes, girls shoes and pink shoes right? Regardless of the categorical implosion I just initiated, I advocate that good SEO is an outcome of effective implementation of your online marketing activities. So, I don’t list it the big six.  

I do, however, want to illustrate what the heck I’m talking about.

Thanks to our friends at Moz.com for polling SEO professionals every year, we can see what’s affecting rankings most and what’s trending.  

What is digital marketing? - Chart of How SEO Ranking Works

I took liberty regrouping some of this stuff to put it in simpler terms, so my chart isn’t exactly the same as theirs. The takeaway is still the same good – SEO all basically boils down to the following:

Website Content & Behavior – The stuff on your website and how people interact with it. This also includes how people interact with your organic search listings,which are all those links that show up on the Google search results page. Listings and their content are formatted from the content on your website so I consider it part of the website package.

Links Coming into Your Site – Links to your website from other people’s websites, as well as the quality of those websites and the words they link from.

Consistent Listing Information – Moz calls this Citation Signals – it’s the number of directories you’re listed in and how consistent your name, address and phone number are in each of those listings.  

Google My Business Listing – When I refer to your Google My Business listing I don’t just mean the listing itself, Google ties this listing into Google Maps, search results, and your knowledge graph. For those not familiar with the knowledge graph, it is a database that Google uses to organize and enhance the value of search information. That’s a long story for another day. This Google My Business listing is responsible for almost 9% of your local organic SEO. Even more, it’s 25% of whether or not you’ll show up in the coveted 3-5 listings attached to the map on the top of the search results page known as the local pack.  

Reviews Your reviews can come from all over the place: Facebook, Google, Yelp, etc. How many you have, how often you get them and how good they are all play into your local SEO.

Social Media – Last is social media. On social media, it’s not as much about the number of followers that you have but more about the quality of content that you post. Search engines want to see good engagement –  people interacting with your content.

It might seem counterintuitive, but I don’t list SEO as a pillar of the big six components of digital marketing. I want to reiterate that the things that build good SEO are the pillars of the big six elements. That said SEO certainly plays a big hand in the success of converting business through your digital marketing campaign.

Get a Bigger Piece of the Pie: Learn More About Digital Marketing

If you’re interested in reading more about the big six components of digital marketing, check out our other blog posts, or find them in our new e-book, Planning your Online Marketing, available by free download.

More about the Author

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Monica Pitts

Monica is the creative force and founder of MayeCreate. She has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with an emphasis in Economics, Education and Plant Science from the University of Missouri. Monica possesses a rare combination of design savvy and technological know-how. Her clients know this quite well. Her passion for making friends and helping businesses grow gives her the skills she needs to make sure that each client, or friend, gets the attention and service he or she deserves.

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