How SEO can inform your email marketing efforts

** This post was co-authored by Yury Byalik and Natasha Smith.

Email marketing and search engine optimization are usually thought of independently, as two distinct marketing channels. However, few realize the powerful benefits of utilizing search insights for email campaigns.

While email engagement doesn’t have a direct impact on a website’s organic ranking, strong email marketing can drive positive subscriber behaviors—such as content sharing and web engagement—which will more directly impact search rankings.

Here are just a few ways that SEO can help inform email campaigns:

Identify popular content topics


1. Backlink analysis of your own content. A backlink is when another site links to your website. The number of backlinks a piece of content has—and the number of domains referring to that content—are ways to measure content’s credibility and are comparable to a social share (social shares do not directly influence SEO, while backlinks do). Content with a large number of referring domains is usually an indicator of high-quality content that is interesting to readers. One strategy is to share this popular content with email subscribers (as long as it's relevant). 

2. Backlink analysis of competitor content. Exactly the same method as above except the focus here is on competitors. A large number of unique referring domains directing to competitor pages indicate a strong interest in that content. Including popular content topics that competitors offer on their websites can help you rank for new keywords and provide for interesting topics to include in newsletters. However, be sure you’re providing new information or a unique perspective on the topic instead of repeating what competitors are saying.

3. Time on site. Analyzing traffic trends on Google Analytics or other analytic platforms will help identify content where visitors spend the most amount of time or gauge general interest in topics. More time spent on a page implies that the content is engaging and interesting to readers. Including this content in emails may make your email campaigns more engaging to readers. To take it to the next level, aim to use individual site behavior to inform what personalized content goes in your emails.

Identify content gaps


1. Competitor gap analysis. A competitor gap analysis can reveal keywords that your competitors are ranking for but you are not. If these keywords are relevant to your business and you want to rank higher for them, you may consider adding content on these topics to help build your ranking.

2. Low ranking keywords. Similarly, keywords that appear lower in the search results page may indicate topics where you have lower awareness or brand consideration. Focusing on these topics within email campaigns will help make up for the lower organic traffic and build greater awareness. Again, be sure the topics are relevant to your subscribers.

3. Difficult to find pages/low visit pages. Because websites can be extremely large in size, some great content may not get the attention it deserves because it’s difficult to find or navigate to. First, use your site analytics tools to find your least visited pages. Then, explore ways to refresh or move this content to be easier to find. Finally, consider incorporating this content into monthly email campaigns or as secondary modules in promotional campaigns where appropriate.


Now that we’ve covered how SEO can help inform email campaigns, let’s discuss how email marketing can be used to drive traffic, increase content visibility and improve SEO.

Google and other search engines use a variety of rules and logic to measure a site’s reputation, including the number of backlinks to a site. Email marketing can increase visibility to content, which can then be shared via social media and linked to from other websites. This is especially useful to help promote pages that are not ranking well organically.

Here are a few tips to improve the chances of increasing visibility:

  1. Encourage social media engagement by placing social icons alongside the content. Create a “connect with us” banner to more directly drive social media engagement and encourage visitors to share your content within their networks. You should also incorporate calls for engagement within the content. For example, ask readers to comment on a blog or to share the content through LinkedIn.
  2. Focus on relevance and including content in email campaigns that provides value to readers. Readers are more willing to share valuable content on their own websites or social media pages, increasing the content’s visibility and the chance for someone else to link to it from their website.
  3. Publish unique email content on the website allowing it to be indexed and to rank for new keywords. If the content is short, multiples pieces can be combined to create one in depth piece as search engines favor long form content.

Google also uses user-experience signals, such as time on site, to help determine a page’s organic ranking. Promoting interesting content in emails can lead readers to a site from branded search queries on Google, where they will spend more time with the content and visit other pages. Strong email campaigns help build trust and authority with readers, encouraging them to more frequently visit your website and recommend it to others. By creating great, valuable content, you can explore getting subscribers “hooked” on the content so that they begin to visit the site regularly, even without an email campaign to remind them.

SEO tools can provide a new source of data that is not available within email marketing platforms and can help inform content strategy and identify content gaps. Well-crafted email campaigns can provide long-term benefits to SEO by promoting the content and increasing user engagement.

One thing is certain, removing the silos that usually exist between email marketing and SEO can help ensure a cohesive strategy that benefits both channels.