How to use email marketing to boost your SEO
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Did you know, email marketing is a powerful SEO tool? Email marketing can boost your search engine rankings AND help you get more benefit from your SEO traffic. Here’s how…
The benefits of email marketing are well documented. In fact, the reckoning is that for every $1 you spend on email marketing you will get $36 back in the US and $41 back in the UK and EU – that’s an impressive ROI!
But did you know that email marketing can also improve your search engine rankings AND help you get more benefit out of your SEO traffic? Email marketing done well can be a powerful SEO tool!
Here’s how to use email marketing to boost your SEO…
The problem with SEO…
SEO is a great way of getting traffic to a website. In fact, I would go so far as to say SEO the best and most reliable way to drive traffic to a website.
However, there are a few fundamental problems with SEO traffic:
1. SEO traffic is transient
By its very nature, SEO traffic is transient. People arrive on your site because they searched for something in Google. Even if you did a really good job of solving that user’s problem, the chances are, once they’ve got their answer, they will leave… and never come back!
For example, let’s say you have a vegan dessert blog. A user might arrive on your site after they did a Google search for ‘easy vegan caramel sauce’. But once they’ve made the recipe, most likely they will leave your website… and next time they need a recipe for something else they’ll go straight back to Google and do another search.
Don’t believe me? Look at your % returning visitors. If you are like most bloggers, you’ll find that % is surprisingly low!
2. SEO traffic is inefficient
In fact, because of its transient nature, SEO is an enormously inefficient way of driving traffic to a website. You work hard every day to drive Google traffic to your website, but the vast majority of that traffic will only visit your website that one time, then disappear… never to be seen again!
I call this phenomenon ‘Leaky Bucket Syndrome’.
Your website is like a bucket that has massive holes in the bottom. Every day Google pours water (traffic) into the top of your bucket… but every day almost all that water flows right out again through those great big dirty holes!
3. SEO traffic is borrowed traffic
While SEO traffic is generally a very good source of long-term, reliable traffic, it is still borrowed traffic. Borrowed traffic is any kind of traffic that is ‘borrowed’ from another business.
For example, Facebook traffic is borrowed from Facebook, Pinterest traffic is borrowed from Pinterest, YouTube traffic is borrowed from YouTube… and SEO traffic is borrowed from search engines (mainly Google, which has an 85% market share)
And the big problem with borrowed traffic is that YOU DON’T OWN IT – you are at the mercy of someone else’s business decisions. So you can be getting great Google traffic one day, but then Google decides to make a big change to their algorithm and ‘poof’ your Google traffic halves overnight…
Or worse, Google decides that you have violated one of their terms of service, so they hand out a big fat manual penalty and you lose all your Google traffic in one fell swoop.
4. SEO is getting increasingly competitive
As blogging is getting increasingly professional, and as more and more bloggers are wising up to the power of SEO, search engine rankings becoming increasingly competitive. In fact, in some niches, such as recipe blogging, the competition right now is fierce.
Unless you are a big player, with big budgets for writers, photographers, designers etc. (or you’ve found an underserved niche that no one else has discovered yet!), it’s getting harder and harder to compete.
5. SEO is less passive than it used to be
Because of the increased competition, SEO is becoming less and less passive. These days, to stay competitive, bloggers need to be churning out lots and lots of new high-quality content, as well as updating old posts and keeping up to date with the latest requirements from Google (e.g. Core Web Vitals).
Those with big budgets can afford to pay a team to do all of this at scale, churning out multiple blog posts each week as well as keeping on top of algorithm updates and staying on top of updating old blog posts.
Meanwhile, the ordinary blogger is exhausting themselves trying to keep up!
Email marketing solves the problems
If this all sounds a bit depressing, I have good news for you! There is a solution. And that solution is email marketing!
1. Email Marketing converts SEO traffic into regular readers
While SEO is an excellent way to GET traffic, email marketing is an excellent way to KEEP that traffic. Email marketing converts that transient traffic into repeat visitors, fans and customers.
Now, instead of traffic that arrives on your site, gets what they want and pings away, with a good opt-in offer you can capture the email addresses of a good chunk of that traffic.
This gives you the ability to pop into their inboxes each week, reminding them that you exist and encouraging them to come back to your site – thus increasing repeat visitors.
Better still, with a good welcome sequence, you can begin to build rapport with your new subscribers. And by continually popping into their inboxes each week, you can slowly get your subscribers to know, like and trust you… turning those repeat visitors into fans, advocates and customers.
2. Email marketing plugs the holes in your leaky bucket
In my analogy above, I likened your website to a leaky bucket, with Google pouring in lots of lovely SEO traffic into the top, but sadly most of that traffic pouring straight out of the bottom through the big holes in your bucket.
Well, the good news is that email marketing is the best way to plug the holes in your leaky bucket, helping you keep more of that SEO traffic you’ve worked so hard to get in the first place!
This also means, over time you will become less and less reliant on Google to fill your bucket up each day.
3. Email marketing makes you less reliant on borrowed traffic
Email marketing is also a brilliant way of converting ‘borrowed’ traffic into ‘owned’ traffic.
Email marketing takes website traffic from any source (Google, YouTube, Pinterest, social media…) and converts it into traffic you own – your email list.
Over time, this makes you less reliant on Google for traffic and makes you less vulnerable to algorithm changes and other factors that can affect search engine traffic (Covid, economic shocks, privacy legislation etc.)
4. Email marketing protects you from increased competition
Email marketing can also cushion you from the effects of increased competition. A competitor can easily come along and steal one of your biggest keywords from you… but they can’t steal a subscriber so easily!
Better still, the longer someone is on your list, and the more of a fan they become, the more they will go directly to your website first when they have a problem or do a branded search (a Google search with your website name + their problem – more about branded searches below.)
A loyal fan is much harder to steal than a casual Google user!
5. Email marketing is a more passive business model
Finally, email marketing can help you build a more passive business model, especially when combined with a digital product and an evergreen sales funnel.
It goes back to the leaky bucket… by plugging those dirty great big holes with email marketing, your bucket gradually fills up instead of emptying each day, this makes you less and less reliant on Google… meaning you don’t have to work as hard to keep churning out blog post after blog post.
Better still, if you can create a digital product and you build an evergreen sales funnel to automatically convert a percentage of those new subscribers into paying customers, you will become less and less reliant on the content hamster wheel / high-volume traffic / ads model of blogging, moving instead towards a lower volume / better quality traffic model, which is much more passive.
This works because the RPMs from digital products are much higher than RPMs from ads, meaning you don’t need huge traffic volumes to earn a full-time income from digital products.
And with this model, it’s far more about building up rapport and differentiating yourself from the competition – something that’s actually easier for smaller bloggers to do than for big websites with multiple authors and a more ‘commoditized’ approach.
How email marketing can improve your Google rankings
But it gets better… So far, we have looked at how email marketing can be used to get the most of your existing SEO traffic. But did you know email marketing can actually BOOST your SEO efforts and get you better Google rankings?
1. Email Marketing improves brand recognition and trust
If you are consistently showing up in your subscribers’ inboxes each week with brilliantly helpful emails, your subscribers will remember you and come to know, like and trust you more.
Now, next time they do a Google search related to your niche, they are much more likely to click your result (because they know and trust you!) and, better still, much more likely to stay on your site longer and visit more pages (again, because they know and trust you).
All of this will send positive signals back to Google, which will in turn have a positive effect on your Google rankings.
2. Email Marketing increases branded searches
But we can go one better, because loyal subscribers who have got to know and trust you via your weekly emails are quite likely to do ‘branded searches’ – either searching for your blog by name (e.g. ‘Easy Peasy Foodie’) or your blog name + keyword (e.g. ‘Easy Peasy Foodie curry’).
Obviously, users who do a branded search are highly likely to click on your result and spend time on your website, again sending positive signals back to Google.
But also, the fact that a user searched using your brand name sends positive signals to Google and can boost your E-A-T too.
Here’s how Moz puts this in their Google E-A-T guide:
“Building a brand is a good idea for many reasons, not least for SEO authority. Branded search volume is a good measure of how your brand authority is doing. If more and more people are searching for your brand name, this is amazing news. If they’re searching for your brand name with a relevant keyword attached, that’s even better.”
In fact, brand name + keyword searches may give you a rankings boost when people search for the non-branded version of that keyword in Google.
And it’s not just your loyal subscribers who perform these branded searches… If you do your email marketing well, your subscribers are likely to become loyal fans who share your fabulous website with their friends and family… who in turn will do their own branded searches for the things they have been recommended.
READ MORE >>> How to optimize for branded organic search traffic
READ MORE >>> Why your SEO focus should be brand building
3. Email Marketing results in more social shares
One way that your loyal subscribers will share your website is via social media, so the better you do at email marketing, the more social shares you should receive.
While there is not a direct relationship between social media shares and search engine rankings, social media is widely considered to have an indirect positive effect on Google rankings.
4. Email marketing results in more reviews
Email marketing gives you a direct way to ask for reviews, comments and ratings. And loyal subscribers / fans are much more likely to leave positive comments and reviews.
All of this User Generated Content (UGC) can have a positive effect on your rankings.
5. Email marketing gives E-A-T a boost
E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, Trust) is becoming an increasingly important factor in SEO. Email marketing helps you build E-A-T, which in turn can have a positive effect on your Google rankings.
(This is especially true if you combine email marketing with selling a digital product, such as an ebook or an online course. Bloggers who have authored a book or course are generally seen as more authoritative than those who haven’t.)
6. Email marketing gives you a better understanding of your target audience
Email marketing gives you really good opportunities to get inside your readers’ minds and better understand what they are struggling with.
For example, you can ask your subscribers what they are struggling with and have them reply directly to you, or you could even run a subscriber survey.
This will give you great ideas for topics you can cover on your blog (potentially underserved keywords to target that you may never have thought of otherwise!) AND it will help you understand searcher intent better (meaning you will write better quality content which better serves your readers’ needs.)
Both targeting underserved keywords and writing better quality content that better meets searcher intent will have a positive effect on your Google rankings.
Email marketing is a powerful SEO tool which, when done well, can improve your Google rankings, make your SEO efforts more efficient, help you beat the competition and ultimately make you less reliant on borrowed traffic.
But to achieve all this, you need to take email marketing seriously and do it properly. Half-hearted attempts at email marketing will not achieve the desired results!
If you want help building an email marketing strategy that will boost your traffic and earnings, check out my email marketing course: Email Marketing Jumpstart, which teaches how to …
- pick the RIGHT email marketing platform (and why that matters!)
- create HIGH-CONVERTING forms and landing pages that will TURBO-CHARGE your list growth
- make awesome OPT-IN OFFERS that your readers will go CRAZY for
- write NEWSLETTERS that your subscribers CAN’T WAIT to receive
- MASSIVELY IMPROVE your open and click rates with ONE SIMPLE TRICK
- use tags, custom fields and segments THE RIGHT WAY
- how to actually EARN MONEY from your email list (even if you don’t have a product to sell!)
- how to AUTOMATE your email marketing so it takes up WAY LESS TIME (but brings in way better results)
- PLUS, all the legal stuff you need to know!
You’ll also get a ton of bonus material, including swipe copy, example automations, templates, tech tutorials, printables, progress trackers and more… Everything you need to totally ROCK email marketing!
Not quite ready for a course yet? Then why not grab my free 30 day list building challenge to get your email marketing off on the right foot.
Over to you
Has email marketing helped you amplify your SEO efforts? I’d love to hear about it!
Or perhaps you have some questions about how this can work in practice…
Either way, let me know in the comment section below.
- 10 reasons why people are NOT signing up to your email list
- 10 easy ways to improve your email open and click rates
- How to stop getting unconfirmed email subscribers
- How to reactivate cold subscribers
- 31 Email Marketing Mistakes to avoid
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Really useful post love your leaky bucket analogy. I’m feeling a bit more confident I’m on the right track with my subscribers. They certainly are loyal to me and that means the world.
Glad you liked the post and found it helpful! Your newsletters are fab, and must be so useful for your audience – you are doing a great job at building that know-like-trust factor 😀
This was great info really enjoyed reading. I haven’t given much focus on email marketing but I should. I just find the process tedious. Funneling I need to do and landing page I need to make and edit. But I hope to get on this soon. Thanks for the reminder and nudge. Xx
Isa A. Blogger
Good to hear you found my article useful and it’s given you the nudge you needed to focus more on email marketing! Eb 🙂
Thanks for this great information. I read about 90% of your material that comes in front of me. Always very informative.
Question! I currently have a small email list from a brick and mortar business I have. Would it be suggested if I add that small email list to my blog in reference to email marketing?
Hi Jose, Thank you for this lovely feedback. So good to hear you are finding my advice helpful. I’m not 100% sure what you are asking me? Are you asking if you should add your brick and mortar business email list to your blog email list? So that, when you send out emails about your blog, your brick and mortar list also get those emails? If so, the answer depends on whether they are basically the same business, or two totally separate businesses. If your blog and your brick and mortar business are the same business, then yes, it makes sense to combine your two email lists. If not, then no – people have not signed up to hear about your blog, so they shouldn’t be added to your blog email list. One final point, depending on the nuances of the situation, and where you are located, there may be some legal issues too. For example, in the UK / EU, according to GDPR rules, you are not allowed to email things people have not signed up for. For example, if you run a shoe shop and you asked me to sign up for offers on shoes, it *might* be breaking the law to email me about your shoe blog. (It really depends on what they actually signed up for, and where you and your customers are based.) Obviously I am not a lawyer, so I can’t give legal advice, but that is my understanding of the situation. Hope that helps! Eb 🙂